Driving Your Classic Car after Long Term Storage

June 21st, 2022 by

Classic car being cleaned

Picture this: you are just getting out of the cold winter months and wish to cruise the spring away in your elegant classic vehicle.

Not just yet! Classic cars that have sat un-started for ages, perhaps even without oil, don’t respond kindly to an abrupt shake-up. They can be as savage as a grizzly bear suddenly jerked out of hibernation, and you will suffer the price of its displeasure.

Whether a car has been in short-term storage for a few months or out for a long time, there are certain procedures that must be followed before leaving the classic car storage facility and driving down the road, especially if you want to guarantee many happy years on the road. Before starting up, check for leaks, corroded fittings, rotten hoses, and weakened seals. Inspect everything from leaks in the power steering system, engine, transmission, rear axle, and brakes.

Here are quick tips to ensure you get the best out of your classic cars:

Visual Inspection

Before rousing your prized possession from its nap, take a walk around the vehicle and look for any weather damage or unusual presentations. Look around for creatures snuggling up in areas such as the engine compartment. Animals will seek refuge from the cold in any crevice they can find. Starting the engine with a creature inside can be problematic and take a long time to clean up. If you had placed any covers over the exhaust or air filter to keep the animals out, remove them.

Also, look out for tire issues such as tire pressure. Air pressure constantly fluctuates as the outside temperature causes air pressure to change frequently; air expands in hot weather and contracts in cold weather. Look out for any other unusual signs, such as stuck windshield wipers, then proceed to a mechanical inspection.

Mechanical Inspection

There are several steps to conducting a mechanical inspection:

Replace Fluids

The need for fluid replacement will be dependent on your car’s storage period. The length of time your car has been sitting will determine what fluids must be drained and replaced. For instance, if your classic has been in long-term car storage, you’ll need to empty or flush all fluid systems before refilling them.

Check your fuel tank. If your car has simply been hibernating for the winter, do a full oil filter change, then empty the gas tank and carburetor. Drain, flush and replenish the radiator coolant after flushing the fuel lines. Replace your engine oil and brake fluid and check to ensure all other fluids are filled to the proper levels, the oil filter is restored, and ensure your tires are properly inflated.

Check the Battery

Dead batteries are a common problem with stored cars. Hopefully, if your classic was parked away for an extended period, the battery was disconnected, uninstalled, and stored carefully away from moisture. In this case, all you have to do is clean the battery terminals and connections with a baking soda and water solution, charge it, and reinstall it.

If, however, the car has been sitting for a long time with the battery still intact, you should replace it with a new battery and fresh wires. As for battery cable’s age, their copper loses conductivity.

Prepare for Ignition

Your car’s spark plugs are at risk of rust and corrosion as the ethanol in gas attracts moisture. If the car has been resting for 90 days or more, mark each plug wire before removing the spark plugs, then remove them. After they have been removed, inject a lubricant into the cylinders. Inspect the spark plugs and replace any that have minor rust spots or appear corroded, white, or oily.

After returning the spark plugs, filling your fuel tank, and ensuring the oil pressure gauge reads normal, fire up your engine and let it warm up a while as you check underneath the car for leaking fluid and any other inconsistencies. You can then give it a short 20-minute drive to loosen your classic up and check for any engine rattles, knocks, and misses.

Once you get back home, make a list of your observations and any potential problems. You can take a longer cruise with your reborn classic only when you’ve solved the issues. Don’t forget to take it for regular maintenance afterward.

Why Choose Lafontaine?

LaFontaine Classic Cars are the best and most reputable classic car dealership for all your classic automobile and truck needs. Our team has extensive experience dealing with classic automobiles for sale. Whether you want to sell your classic or purchase one from us, you can count on us to go all the way for you.

We are also a highly ranked and reviewed vehicle dealership, having a 4.6 out of 5-star rating on Autotrader and a 5-star rating on Facebook. All customers wishing to purchase or sell classic vehicles and trucks may count on us to provide excellent service.

Your Key to the Best Classic Cars & Trucks

Lafontaine Classic Cars is your ultimate home for everything that involves classic cars, from American Chevrolet to German Volkswagen and more. Do you want to purchase a classic car but don’t wish to sift through classified advertisements and wonder how your car runs? 

At LaFontaine Classic Cars, you don’t have to sweat through all that. We proudly sell high-quality classic automobiles across Michigan and the United States as a reliable and trusted classic car dealer.

As a family-owned and operated business, LaFontaine is dedicated to offering professional yet client-friendly services. It is not only about the vintage appeal. It’s also about the smile you leave with. Contact us today for the finest classic car and truck services.

Image Credit: Virrage Images/Shutterstock

Posted in Classic Cars