Although I heard the mention of snow in the Overland Park forecast for next week, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you are more than ready to get your classic car prepped for warm weather driving. There is more to it than removing the tarp and checking the oil!
First, do a visual inspection. Walk around the car checking for anything amiss, like leaking fluids. Check under the hood for popped connectors or hoses because this may indicate damage caused by frozen water. Look for cracks or even hoses that are too hard. Be sure to remove any rodent blockers you cleverly installed last fall like paper towels stuffed in the exhaust pipe. You don’t want the mice to have the last laugh when you forget to remove that!
Take a good look at your tires. Check for wear—it may be time for an alignment. Also look for dry rot and foreign objects which may have lodged in the tire over the course of the winter. Top off to the correct PSI and make sure the spare is ready to use! While you’re doing the walk-around, push down on each corner of the car and check the condition of your shocks.
If you removed your battery last fall, take it off the charger and make sure all the mounting brackets are secure and the connections are clean and not corroded. If your battery seems to have trouble holding a charge, replacing it now is a cheap way to make sure you don’t get stranded when the temperatures rise. Check the brake fluid and confirm the brake and clutch master cylinders are topped off. Brake fluid absorbs water quickly so this is a vital step in the process! It may even be worth flushing this system and replacing with new fluid. Confirm the emergency brake is operational as well.
It’s also important to flush your cooling system. Unfortunately, today’s coolants are full of corrosion inhibitors which eat away at the rust inside your system. After sitting for several months this can translate into dislodged chunks which may block the flow of coolant and cause problems. Replace with a 50-50 mix of coolant and water.
For classic cars with automatic transmissions you want to replace the fluid every three years if you have not put many miles on it. If you have a manual transmission simply check the fluid levels. Synthetic fluids are fine here.
When you’re ready to start her up, be sure to have a fire extinguisher on hand. Resist the urge to rev the engine (there’s time for that later) and simply let it idle until it reaches regular running temperature. Check gauges for problems such as low oil pressure, and listen to the engine. Have someone available to do an inspection of all lights and turn signals. Check one more time for leaking fluids.
Gasoline loses its octane over the months, so hopefully you put a fuel stabilizer like “Staybil” in the tank last fall. Drive it to empty and fill it up with fresh gas and you will be OK.
This is the best time to change the oil and oil filter. Oil that has been sitting all through this tough Overland Park winter is likely contaminated with water and other things that don’t like your engine.
For your first trip out, plan to drive no more than half an hour. This will get all the systems to proper operating temperatures and let you know if anything needs attention. Check one more time for leaking fluids when you get home. I don’t have to tell you to give it a good cleaning, inside and out, and a coat of wax! And don’t forget to make sure your car insurance is current. Now you are ready for cruising season!
Of course, at New Concept Auto Service in Overland Park, classic cars are one of our specialties. If you have any questions or need help with any of these items please give us a call!
Paul helped fix an exhaust leak on this beautiful 1970 Chevelle with a 350 small-block engine and vintage air.