March 20 heralded the first day of Spring. Even though in some parts of the country there may still be a threat of snow, for vintage car owners, Spring marks the time of getting the car out of storage and getting it ready to hit the open roads. We have tips for how to prepare your vintage car for Spring.
It may be tempting to pull your antique auto out of its storage facility and just take it for a tiny spin around the block, but the vehicle specialists at Wrenchers LLC urge you to resist until you properly prepare your beloved antique car, vintage truck or hot rod.
For those car owners who took the steps to properly store their vehicles over the winter months, the Spring prep should be a breeze. Here are a few steps you need to take:
- If you removed your battery, you will need to reinstall it.
- If the battery wasn’t on a trickle charger over the winter months, now is the time to get it attached and charged.
- Check the tires for any cracks or air leaks.
- Gently lower the car off its jack stands.
- Give the wires under the hood a good going over. No matter how well your vehicle was stored, critters sometimes wriggle their way in and gnaw on wires and insulation. Make sure there is no rodent damage.
How To Prepare Your Vintage Car For Spring
Now we’re on to the “fun stuff” for getting your vintage car ready for that summer road trip.
- Check the fluids. Is the oil in your vintage baby a golden honey hue? If it’s black, change it. If it’s milky, it has moisture in it and needs to be changed.
- Radiator fluid levels need to be checked. You can use a 50/50 antifreeze mix when you’re topping it off.
- Check the fluid levels in the battery. Fill it to the proper levels with distilled water if it’s low. Check and clean battery terminals and charge the battery fully.
- Belts and hoses need to be checked – as mentioned above, for rodent damage – but also for wear and tear and dry rot. If you notice that, change the belts and hoses. If the hoses are not taut, tighten or change them. In fact, when you’re under the hood, check all the wiring for corrosion or brittleness.
- Check the wiring to ensure nothing is loose or dangling. That is a fire waiting to happen. Tighten any loose wires; you can use electrical tape or zip ties.
- The fuel lines and hoses leading from the carburetor to the tank and/or the throttle body need to be inspected for corrosion, dry rot or leaks. Replace all fuel lines that are suspect.
- Check your brakes. Disc brakes can be checked without taking the car apart – you should be able to check the thickness of the pads quite easily. If your vintage truck has drum brakes, check the brake lines and brake fluids. If you see brake lines or bad calipers, don’t drive the truck. Pump the brake pedal – does it feel normal? Not spongy? Not so stiff it won’t move? If you experience either of these extremes, it’s a problem, and you don’t want to drive it.
- Slide behind the wheel and… turn it on.. but don’t put it in gear. Resist the urge until the operating temp rises to optimal temps and they’re high enough to get the antifreeze flowing through the heater core and radiator. Listen to that engine purr.
- Now get out of your antique truck or vintage car and do a walk around it. Do you see any fluids leaking? Are you hearing any noises that you shouldn’t be hearing?
- If it all checks out, get back behind the wheel, slide the vehicle into drive and ease your way out of the driveway and onto the highway for a brief test drive.
Owners of vintage and antique vehicles who live in Michigan count down until Spring so they can get their vehicles out of storage and enjoy the open roads! If you need assistance getting your vehicle road-ready, give us a call.
At Wrenchers LLC, we are classic, antique and hot rod enthusiasts, and that shows in the craftsmanship of our vehicle restorations. Whether you choose a full frame-off, traditional restoration or custom work for your vehicle, our experienced restoration professionals listen to you and work on your vehicle with the same care they take with their own. When your keys are handed over and you slide behind the wheel after your car has been restored, you will be hitting the road in the vehicle of your dreams.