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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 steps to bring your car out of storage for spring driving season | Hagerty Media

No amount of lamp light will cure the car lover's seasonal affective disorder, suffered when the weather is too cold or the roads too salty for driving a classic. Luckily, spring is upon us, which means many of us are champing at the bit to get our cars out of storage and onto our favorite roads.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/5-steps-spring-driving-storage-2021/
43 REPLIES 43
Flashman
Technician

I love to see someone correctly use "champing at the bit" (not chomping). I confess, I took my old car out of the garage just this week and skipped many of your recommended steps. It survived the nighbourhood test drive, so today we go for a real drive.
Tinkerah
Technician

I second your compliment of "champing". It's not intuitive or commonly used correctly so it really sticks out when it is.
DUB6
Gearhead

   My standard practice is to change oil and filter when I put it away for winter, and we're pretty lucky to have fairly mild weather mixed in during Nov-Mar, so we can move it a bit to keep the juices up and the flat spots off.  It's stored in a fairly dark garage.  Last week, I took the battery tender off, checked the dipstick and coolant (with a keyring flashlight), then put miles on both the car and my shoulders (think: "wax on - wax off"), and figured it was ready for anything.  Until I stopped at a drive-in and someone asked to see under the hood.  It was then that I realized that I had a LOT more work to do - that engine bay was embarrassingly filthy.  Sigh - more elbow grease to be applied this weekend!

   Good article...

colsteve
Pit Crew

Even if you change the oil when tucking your car away for the winter, oil gets contaminated inside your engine. Best to change in the spring when you can exercise your engine to proper temperatures and actually drive the car.
When I am at a car show and judge a vehicle, I always pass on it if the hood is down or the hood area is filthy. same for dirty wheels. If you were wearing a tuxedo would you were combat boots that are scuffed up? Clean sells on the car lot and on the show field.
DUB6
Gearhead

I think you must be advocating changing before putting the vehicle away, and then again when taking it out in the spring (which if fine with me) - otherwise, you would be suggesting that one should put a car away for the winter with a belly full of dirty oil, with all sorts of nasty chemicals and yuck for the lower end mechanicals to soak in for 4 months?

highschoolmusta
New Driver

After the 1st drive ........check the garage floor for leaks
GRP_Photo
Instructor

Another method for pre-lubing the system is to drain the oil, remove the oil pressure sensor, and pump the new oil in under pressure.
Tinkerah
Technician

This is a terrific idea I wish I'd thought of! Going through the distributor hole is enough of a hassle that I've only done it for years-long dormant and brand new engines. I figure mechanically pumped carbureted engines generally prime the fuel and oil systems at about the same rate so by the time they fire the oil is ready. Once the light is out or there's pressure on the gauge you know you're safe.
GRP_Photo
Instructor

In the '60s and '70s, Sears sold rebuilt engines, and this was the method they recommended for lubing the system before first startup. I bought one of these engines about 1974 and dutifully scrounged a Freon tank, filled it with five quarts of oil (a very slow process), pressurized it with a compressor I picked up somewhere, connected it to the sensor port on the engine, turned it upside-down, and opened the valve. A few minutes later, I was ready to go.
97Cobra
Intermediate Driver

Good list simple things are usually forgotten. Can appreciate not checking the brake pedal.
drhino
Technician

I refuse to take the bikes out until all the salt residue has been washed off the roads. Not there yet!
avideo
Intermediate Driver

Living here in Arizona there is really no "off season" for driving your old or collector car. Ever on those sizzling 100+ degree days, it's OK to take the car or truck for a spin in the early morning hours when the temperatures are usually in the 70s or 80s.
Needless to say, I don't miss Oregon's wet, gray and nasty winters at all.
OttoSkorzeny
New Driver

Same here in Atlanta.
Waterboy1KHY80
Intermediate Driver

I dont even touch them until we have had at least two good hard rains, it makes it too tempting (for me) especially sense once you fire them up (post inspection) they really need to get up to operating temp and put a few country miles on em. Here in the God-forsaken, frozen wasteland of N. MI. they just spread "more" salt this last week. Enjoy your work Kyle, Thanks.
JimR
Instructor

Had the old Chevy on the lift late this winter resealing the pan. I second the brake line inspection. I confess I wasn’t really inspecting but luckily happen to notice a hard line had broken loose and was lying against the frame. Fortunately caught it in time with no damage. But I’ll really “inspect” next time. Good tip. 👍
VWbusman
New Driver

I just did a disc brake conversion on my 1965 VW Camper Bus. Can't wait to install my engine and take it for a spin!
jonZ
Instructor

Good article and good timing. The weather here in south Alabama allows me to use our classics weekly, but the information in this article is appropriate for all seasons. I must confess. I'm guilty of using "chomping". (See above south Alabama reference).
Numberscruncher
Detailer

Living in SA, there are only a couple of weeks out of the year when driving my baby isn’t advisable, so she never goes into storage, but Spring is a good time to check things out. Thanks for the tips.
OCULUSNY
Intermediate Driver

Ah, that last shot "Drive:" Note he is doing two lost rituals as he drives: clutching and shifting.

Paddles don't count.
Tinkerah
Technician

Yes, and no they don't.
02-orignal-ownr
Detailer

The easiest way to get your oil pressure up and going before that first stop (presuming your engine has an oil pump) is to pull the coil wire and then crank the engine until either the oil pressure light goes out or you're showing pressure on the gauge. That has the secondary benefit of pulling gas into the carb (again, presuming a mechanical pump).

Dunno about US or Japanese carbs, but both Solex and Weber downdrafts have accessible float chamber vents. With a small funnel, squeeze bulb (like an ear syringe) or small squirt bottle you can fill the float chamber with gas via this vent. Then the engine will start almost immediately--no long cranking periods to draw gas the length of the car.

Mr_Fix_it
Pit Crew

Great safety tips to live by. Speaking of which I couldn't help but notice a see through fuel filter. As much as it's nice to see the contents of the filter, IHMO, these are not a good quality filter and are suspect to the cause of engine fires in the past. Another common issue is that the paper filament inside can come loose effectively bypassing the filtering process allowi9ng dirt into the carburetor(s).
The steel cased filters are a much safer option & not any more expensive than the filter shown here. I personally change mine out once at the beginning of every driving season.
Mr_Fix_it
Pit Crew

Not speaking for everyone here but some of the readers may not have the experience required for removing a distributor to prime the oil system. A simple way thought would be to disconnect the coil wire and bump the engine over for a few seconds then repeat for a few times.
Once done plug the coil wire back in then away you go starting the engine. Alternatively, if you are a member of a local car club, chances are you will have a local car guru to assist with the recommendation of R&R'ing the distributor as written here above to prime the system.
Maestro1
Instructor

Well done, Kyle. My 41 year old Chrysler Mitsubishi left the garage two days ago and has been on a 6 mile round trip without issues, and went to the parts store later on. It was cranky on the first lap but
ran like a Prince thereafter. I don't like the way the oil looks so it will get an oil change this coming week. 0-60 in five years, but we love it and it's part of the family. Thank you for the article.
MattK
Detailer

I love it, lol, Chrysler/Mitsubishi. 41 years? Is it a Colt?
McNeat
Pit Crew

Mine is a 35 year old Plymouth Voyager LE with the notorious ( head gasket ) 2.2 Mitsubishi. Nice quasi Woodie Wagon wire wheel covers et al
Corvair1965
Pit Crew

Extremely gratified to see the Corsa! I'll have to rebuild the carbs on mine first, unfortunately.
Kyle
Moderator

I've got to finish up the exhaust system I have planned on this one, it's been sitting nearly two years now and that is simply not acceptable!
Ruby
Pit Crew

If your coolant is more than 5 years old, change it. It will save you time, money and grief in the long run!
Mogowner
Intermediate Driver

The rites of spring, for me, as soon as possible after the road salt is washed away, start with a ritual de-inhibiting of the toys. Unzip the carcoon, remove power to its fans and disconnect from the car battery, a walk around to ensure no hazards, then pull/push out into the sunshine (ever hopeful). Up with the bonnet, remove power from the coil and take out the plugs. Crank on the starter until oil pressure comes up (clean oil and filter installed prior to storage), then re-connect power to the coil and re-install the plugs. Check brake pedal to confirm no in-storage failure and then fire it up--usually only a couple of turns of the crankshaft before it's running. Set to +or- 1000rpm until temp gauge moves, then out for a bit of a toot. Luckily, two of them already done, and, just waiting for this little cold snap to leave Ontario, for more of the same.
toddh9
Pit Crew

I like your Corvair. Nice wheels! I put some similar Panasport 4 bolt Triumph wheels on my ‘64 Monza. It was transforming. 😀
ChevyDave
Intermediate Driver

To add to mogowner’s comment, I also squirt a bit of fresh oil into each cylinder after removing the plugs and a few hours before cranking, use a flat-panel infrared heater to warm-up the oil pan/oil. Don’t know how much it helps, but makes me feel like I’ve done as much as I can to ease the shock of that first Spring fire-up.
4wheel2wheel
Intermediate Driver

Another preparation I have used for 40+ years, after an engine overhaul, I first, verify clean engine oil full to the mark and a good battery.
Simply remove the spark plugs and crank the engine ( on manual transmission cars push the clutch pedal down to reduce the cranking load) a until either the oil pressure gauge reading comes up and holds or the oil pressure indicator lamp goes out. Reinstall the plugs and fire it off.
Magnumcello
Pit Crew

When I do my autumn oil change before storage, I refill the crankcase a half quart shy of the full mark.
Just before the first startup in the spring, I top up the oil. This guarantees that my top end will have sufficient lubrication right away.
DUB6
Gearhead

   Assuming that you either have one central oil fill spot (as on a straight 4 or 6 cylinder), or fillers on both valve covers (as on a V-6 or V-8), that would have some merit.  For instance, on my V-8, the oil fill is on one side only, which would mean that head would get some oil - and probably some would make it to the cam - but the other side would still be dry.  And that doesn't do anything for timing chain, distributer bushings, and a few other places, like crank bosses and bearings.  At least 1/2 of your rod bearings are going to be above oil levels, so they are getting nothing.  Additionally, if your car or engine is sitting on a backward slant, 1/2 quart may not even be enough to flood the places ahead of your filler (again, on my car, the fill hole is about 1/2 way back in the valve cover).

   So while this would be "better-than-nothing", it's still not a great replacement for "oiling under pressure", which generally is going to require spinning the oil pump or otherwise moving oil through the engine using one of the other methods cited here.  I wouldn't recommend just pouring some in the top end to be adequate for a motor that has sat dry for 3-4 months of winter storage.  Couldn't hurt, but I doubt it'd do much to help either.  Just my 2 cents-worth here...

samholman
New Driver

My first step will be to assemble the engine on my CX GTi 25.
colsteve
Pit Crew

Last weekend the weather was nice. I have eight cars to maintain so I called my local quick oil change shop. said they, "without a mechanic present we won't do ay classic cars." So, I went to my corner Carquest store and spent some $180 on oil, filters and STP (for the ZZDP).
I own an 8,000 lift so I went to work. The challenge was to get to the lube zerts with my hand pump lubricator. I must buy one for my air compressor!
With the need to move cars around, up and down on the lifts this project took me two days. What was my lesson learned? As some may suspect, these quick oil change shops don't do the services I once learned working at Shell station some 55 years ago. All of my zerts needed to be lubed. With the aid of my wife and some contortionist moves we got them done. This must be how they qualify their expertise as quick. they skip important steps of maintenance. Maybe the fact that a mechanic needed to be present tells you the quality of the employees?

I still have two more cars to go. Both are in the "shop", one for upholstery re-do and the other for repairs to the body when my car suffered a wheel coming off the studs. I guess somebody tried to steal or molest the car while it was at the body shop for some spot painting. I got one mile from the shop, going slow at a curve when the wheel dislodged. The brake rotor gouged in to the aluminum wheel keeping it from falling on the road. Another lesson. Carefully inspect your cars when retrieving from a shop and whenever you're checking air pressure. As the damage was over $8,000, it could have been worse if that wheel fell off and the frame ended on the road. I was about three blocks from a busy intersection and street where it could have been real disaster if that was where I had the incident.

Good thing for Classic Car insurance. they understood my needs for the work. As a cautionary I replaced the rotor hub on the right hand side of the car too. Finding the identical rotor assembly was a chore. the major company I used for the original disc brake couldn't give me a build date nor do they answer the phone in New York state. Summit Racing was excellent to work with for the parts needed.
MrBill-1943
Detailer

Excellent article at just the right time. My 87SS goes in and out storage every other month but I still do an engine fluid as well as brake check every time I pull her out. One of the best suggestions already made is when you pull her out check the floor for any leaks etc. as it is one of the best signs that something is wrong. Another thing I do is use Ethanol Free Gas as it prevents moisture build up in the lines, It may cost .50 to .75 cents more a gallo0n but well worth it. My greatest frustration is dry rot on the tires, just went for a new set for almost $800 yet they still had 30,000+ miles of rubber left on them...any suggestions?
64jeepsrt
Intermediate Driver

Hello MrBill-1943, in response to the dry rot problem you described in your post. Do you use tire dressing on your tires on a regular basis? I have had dry rot problems on good tires also and have found that alcohol based tire dressing was drying out the side walls of my tires and causing them to get dry rot early in the tire life. I switched to a non-alcohol based tire dressing abd havent had this issue.
Edumil1
New Driver

Last video (Drive!)
Dangerous situation: Container rolling around in the back of the driver. In an accident that would be a flying weapon. It could also roll into the floor compartment of the driver and lodge itself under the accelerator or, worse yet, brake pedal!
ALWAYS remove or secure loose items before hitting the road!
OttoSkorzeny
New Driver

The best solution is to move out of the freezy azzed North and move to someplace nice. Collector car season lasts 12 months in Atlanta.

I don't even own a modern car and drive my 42 - 65 year old vehicles year round, every day. The best thing my folks ever did was move our family from Cleveland, Oh to Atlanta, Ga. I bought an unrestored '66 Mustang in high school that looked like it just rolled off the assembly line. Meanwhile, my cousin in Cleveland had a rust bucket with quarter panels so rusted out around the wheel wells they flapped in the wind. You could stick a screwdriver through the frame. He also paid over three times what I paid for the Mustang.

To heck with driving your nice car 3 months out of the year!
DUB6
Gearhead

OttoSkorzeny, can I please ask you to make your pitch to all of SoCal?  'Cause a ton of those folks from that particular sunny clime are moving up here to the freezing northland of Idaho every week, and helping to drive housing costs so high that the normal folks can't afford to live here.  So if you'd please talk them into coming to Atlanta instead, a bunch of us natives would be very grateful.  😈

DLP
Pit Crew

I love your Corvair. In 1965 I bought a Corvair Corsa 180hp Turbo from the dealeshio I was working for. It had been one of the owners demo. At 900 miles the transmission went out, but they fixed under warranty. 900 miles later, it went out again, but they would not warrant it because they said I was drag racing it. (True, one time, Turned a 14.88 @ 88 mph) So i paid for the repair. Long story short, a fellow Corvair owner and I went down to vist Don Yenkos dealership to see the Yenko Stinger he was building. He took us out for a ride in a stage II and impreesed the crap out of us. He then took my Corsa out for a drive, and was really impressed with its performance. We had done a few simple tricks like insulating the exhaust up to the turbo, elliminating the muffler, and screwed the flaps on the heat exchangers shut to keep the heat up. We told him about the gearbox issues, and he said if it happend again to call him. Well at 900 miles again, the tranny let go. His dealership came up to where my car was sitting along side the highway, picked it up, took it back to Cannonsburg,(30 plus miles) and repaired it at no cost. Turned uot the differential was like a trapazoid, putting stress on the input shat, and after 900 miles would break and fall into the transmission. He was my hero from that day forward. And I am a Mopar guy.