Preparing your classic car for spring: expert tips for getting a cherished classic car out of winter storage
Master Toyota Technician’s Tips on Getting a Car Back in Service for a Spring and Summer of Trouble-Free Driving
As the weather finally improves and the Easter holidays approach, now is the time for many classic car enthusiasts to take their pride and joy out of winter storage.
After months sheltered from the elements, it’s tempting to just hop in and drive out into the sun, but experts are urging owners to ensure their classic is safe and prepared for a spring and summer on the road.
Graham Bothamley is Toyota UK’s press fleet manager and a master Toyota technician, and has over 100 cars in his care, from the latest Yaris to classic 1980s Corolla AE86 coupés and one of the original Lexus LFA supercars .
He shared his top 10 tips for getting a classic out of storage and back on the road, from essential safety measures to simple maintenance.
“The most important and first thing is safety,” says Graham. “Cars that have been standing still for a long time can develop problems and your first task is to ensure that your classic car is safe to drive.
“Some items can perish or decay when not in use, others can corrode, and then there’s always the issue of rodent damage, it’s amazing how much a little mouse can do to you. cost.
“Once you’ve established it’s safe, you need to make sure it’s ready and won’t leave you stranded or with a big bill. A little time and mechanical sympathy now will help ensure a brilliant driving season for your old car.”
Here are Graham’s top ten tips for getting your classic out of storage for a great season of enjoying the road.
- Check oil levels and look for signs of leaks. Pipes can develop leaks even when not in use as they expand and contract with large temperature changes throughout the winter and spring. Inspect the fuel lines for the same reason (and check if your classic can run on E10 gasoline with those stock lines). Remove the fuel filler cap and smell the fuel vapor to make sure the gasoline in the tank is correct after storage.
- Check the coolant level and look for any signs of leaks or corrosion in the system. When you’ve completed this checklist, be sure to warm up the engine and recheck the system for leaks when warm – better to know that on the road than on the road.
- Check brake pedal feel, fluid level and condition. Check the brake hoses for cracks. If your car hasn’t moved for a while, older brake systems may suffer. Don’t assume it will shut down like it did the day you put it away for the winter.
- Check if the handbrake releases properly, visually inspect the brakes, then when you start the car for the first time, drive slowly for a few meters, and the same in reverse, to see if there are noises of lockup or drag or if the vehicle continues to move after the brakes are applied.
- Check/charge the 12v battery – recharge if necessary (a ‘trickle’ charger for use during the winter is a great addition if you don’t already have one).
- Check that the exterior lights are working properly.
- Check washer fluid level, wiper operation, and blades for cracks (rubber can dry out, crack, and split in storage, especially in well-insulated, hot, dry garages).
- Check the condition of the tyres: correct the pressures, look for cracks, check the tread depth. Also check that the wheel nuts are still set to the correct torque.
- Check for rodent damage. Our furry friends can be a real problem. Use a torch to check for chewed cables and wires and signs of nesting in the engine bay and wheel wells. A nest can interfere with safe operation and even present a fire hazard and chewed wires are a real safety concern. Be especially careful to check the air filter as rodents seem to like the texture of the item when building a house! Remove the air box and inspect it carefully.
- Make a MOT even if it is not a legal obligation. It’s a great way to get a second security check even if your classic is registered as “Historic” and exempt from MOT.
And Graham also has one final piece of advice. “After your first car ride, it’s good to go through most of this list again. Heat, expansion, vibration, etc. can reveal problems that might have been hidden when the car was stationary. But above all, enjoy it.