Taking Your Hobby Car Out of Winter Storage
It’s that time of year, well for most of us anyway. The days are longer, and while in reality the weather is unpredictable at best, we wake most mornings expecting sun, not snow. Time to crack open that garage door, dust off the cobwebs and crank over our hobby cars, for the first time in months. For those of you that live in locales that allow you to drive your hobby car year round, we hate you. For the rest, follow along as we share some tips on taking your hobby car out of winter storage the safe way.
Of course, through the winter the battery was hooked up to a battery tender, a car cover was carefully draped over freshly polished and waxed paint, the car lifted onto jack stands, and a dose of fuel stabilizer poured into the gas tank-riiiight?
“Even with best intentions it’s easy to forget our summer romances, come the long dark nights of winter”
Ya right! If you are like us, you drive your hobby car every chance you get until the first snow. By that point the garage is too cold to work in. Even with best intentions it’s easy to forget our summer romances, come the long dark nights of winter. It happens, but don’t let any minor neglect turn worse by not taking some precautions before starting and driving your hobby car after winter storage.
What’s Under the Hood?
Opening the hood seems like a simple and obvious first step, but don’t skip it. Over the winter critters could have made a cozy home in your engine bay, worse yet the intake. Check that the filter is intact and make sure no nest material or baby critters can get sucked into the engine.
Opening that hood would likely have scared away any creatures, but keep in mind for the next while that this might have been home for wayward animals and vermin for the past few months and they won’t give it up easily. If there was any evidence of interlopers, for the next few weeks pop the hood for a visual before starting the car so no animals are about to get entangled in the belts.
Speaking of belts, check them and wires for signs of having been chewed and any natural wear you may have neglected during those cold fall days before tucking your baby away.
Before starting the car, check the oil. If you haven’t had a chance to run the car over the winter, it might be a good idea to pull the plugs, and squirt a few drops of oil into each cylinder. Disconnecting the plugs from power (usually by pulling the main coil lead) will allow you to rotate the engine in a controlled manner using the starter to build up oil pressure. You could opt to turn the engine over by hand too . Turning the starter for about 10 secs two or three times should provide sufficient oil circulation. If you have an oil pressure gauge watch to see what it reports.
With oil pressure built up, and the ignition system back into play start the engine. Once the engine is running, let it idle to warm up, I know you are dying to hear the engine at full song but don’t rev it. Once the car is at operating temperature, observe the other gauges and idiot lights to see if any problems have come to light (see what I did there?). Take a look under the car for any leaks. Now is a great time to change the oil.
If you are really diligent you’ll check all the fluids, but if you aren’t terribly diligent at least check the brake fluid level, and look for leaks at each wheel along before setting off on your first cruise of the season. While you’re at it make sure windows and mirrors are clean, and brake lights are working, and tires are properly inflated, safety first!
Speaking of the first cruise, it would be wise to keep the first few short and sweet to flush out any mechanical issues while you are still close to home. Don’t forget to bring along your cellphone and auto club membership.
Of course there are many more checks you should be doing but we perform those checks before every outing right? Maybe you’ve spotted some glaring omissions, if so please let us know.
If you have a spring routine of your own worth sharing, let’s hear it. We’d especially like to hear about any surprise engine bay encounters! Those are always good for chuckle or two!