Whether you’ve had your classic in short-term storage over the winter, put your car in the garage while the salt’s on the road or are just getting ready to use your pride and joy more during the spring months, the Classic Motor Hub are on hand to share DIY maintenance tips.
Getting a car back on the road doesn’t necessarily need to be an arduous task, explains the Classic Motor Hub’s resident mechanic and Workshop Manager Eddie Williams. “We store cars at the Hub for long periods, but most commonly over winter,” he said. “All of these do-it-yourself jobs can be done at home in your garage or driveway and will help make sure your car’s in fine fettle ready for the spring weather.”
When a car’s stored for longer than a week, we recommend not leaving the handbrake on - this helps avoid the brakes binding with the discs. We would advise putting the car in gear if it’s on a flat surface. If you’re worried about any movement depending on your storage situation then a handy way to secure the car is to put chucks on it. Doing the reverse, to get your car out of storage, you should take it out of gear and put the handbrake back on. This is the first stage to secure the car inside your garage.
Whether you’ve inflated your tyres or not, we recommend checking your tyre pressures. A reason you might choose to inflate your tyres is to avoid ‘flat spots’, which are the areas in contact with the ground for long periods. Over time (especially with older tyres not using nitrogen) as temperatures fluctuate, the air in a tyre decreases. If you don’t know what your tyre pressures should be then the first place to look is in the door shut. If you can’t find the details there then you will find them in your owner’s manual or similar. Failing that, owner’s clubs and forums are a great way to find out information related to the general maintenance of your car.
Whether you’ve stored your car with a trickle charger to make sure the battery’s topped up or not, it’s important to make sure that the battery is as fully charged as possible before attempting to start the car. To do this, we recommend using a multimeter.
Now that your car’s prepared safely and the tyres are topped up, we recommend putting fresh fuel in. Always check the jerry can you’re using to transport fuel in from the petrol pumps to not contaminate the fuel tank. By putting fresh fuel in you’re ensuring that the car’s given the best start when turning the key and that the fuel lines aren’t clogged.
Now you’ve got fresh fuel in, it’s time to turn your attention to any other fluids that you may have removed. It depends on personal preferences whether you drain things like brake fluid (if your car’s in short-term storage, we don’t recommend draining fluids other than the fuel tank). Check the levels of each fluid, including there’s a reading of oil. Remember, oil changes viscosity when it’s warm, so you’ll have a lower reading when the car’s cold, especially if it’s been standing still for a while.
A top tip from us at the Classic Motor Hub: to help your car’s carbs inject fuel into the engine, we recommend squirting a small amount down the inlet of the carb to help it start. A small dousing rather than smothering it with fuel will mean that it’s easier for your carbs to get to work pumping fuel to the engine.
Always make sure that you have an extinguisher handy just in case you might need it.
The preparation has been leading up to this. Before you start the car, ensure that if it’s inside a garage that the doors are open and there’s plenty of ventilation.
Don’t be surprised if the car doesn’t start the first time you turn the key. Sometimes they can be stubborn but the worst thing you can do is put the starter motor under too much stress. The same can be said for flooding the engine with fuel.
Take it slow and if you’re struggling then revisit any of the steps we’ve walked through.
Once the car’s started, you’ll want to make sure that it warms up before using it on the road. Again, make sure you have ample ventilation if the car’s in a garage. Staying with your car until it’s up to temperature – oil and other fluids – it’s then on to test on the road.
Because your car’s been standing still for a while, you may have residue on the brake discs, so it’s really important to safely check the brakes before going any distance. A bit like you would have emergency brake tested on your driving test, make sure that there isn’t any traffic on the road. Test the brakes from 30mph to a complete stop once or twice. If you’re happy with the performance then carry on. If not, return home and check the brakes over. It may be that you need to clean rusty residue off the discs or check the brake fluid, for example.
Once your car’s out of storage, we recommend enjoying it. Cars are there to be driven and with an array of events at the Classic Motor Hub as well as ones organised by Footman James, there’s no excuse not to get out and drive. Even if there isn’t an event to go on, the benefits of just ‘going for a drive’ are endless.
Just make sure that it’s cleaned before it’s put away again.
Have you got any storage tips you think we should share or stories of when you’ve got your car out of winter storage for spring? Let us know in the comments section below.