For many of us, Summer can’t come around soon enough. At the time of writing, we are just 2 weeks away here in the U.K from the clocks changing to British Summer Time again, and we can expect to soon enjoy longer days and warm balmy nights. Or, so we hope. But, with the changing of the season, there is also traditionally added impetus amongst classic and specialist car owners to get their cars back on the road again for the warmer days and weeks ahead.
If your classic has been layed up inside a garage over winter, you’ll hopefully have either disconnected the battery, or, kept it on a trickle charge, else you will possibly (probably) discover, it won’t start on the turn as you bring it out into the daylight for the first time since last autumn. Trickle charging is often favoured because a trickle charger very gentle keeps a slight charge going to the battery to stop it going flat, and then lets the battery discharge a little before adding the charge again. This process preplicates more or less the way a car would behave, and thus this helps preserve the battery life for longer too. If you didn’t trickle charge, but removed instead, it may just be worth checking the condition of the battery before you reconnect it. Most drive-in tyre centres will do this for you for free.
It’s worthwhile before you start the car for the first time this year to also ensure the fluid levels have remained stable over winter. Tell tale signs underneath the car may help let you know if there have been any leaks, but you should manually test the levels too. It would even be advisable to change the oil before taking the car out of the garage anyway as the oil could deteriorate if left sat for a number of months and the start of the year/season also acts as a good memoriable milestone by which to note to perform this routine service measure every year.
Rubbers and seals can perish if the car has been sat so as well as looking for leaks underneath the car, check the hoses in the engine bay too. Hoses will expand once the car is being run again and a weakened hose could see you stranded by the roadside if it decides to burst.
Check the tolerances and torques of, particulary, service items like spark plugs. Again, a period spent rested could loosen things.
Clean the car too. Even if kept under a cover, a quick wash won’t hurt. And check at this point the operation of the wipers to ensure they aren’t smearing.
Tyres obviously need a check…if any have lost pressure over winter, get air back into them, but don’t over inflate. And tyres that have been sat for some time can perish, so if your car has been stood for years and not months, identify the age of the tyres by locating the 4 digits on the outside firewalls. Remember, the first 2 digits relate to the week, and the last 2 digits relate to the year the tyre was made. This will give you an idea of if you need to ponder swapping the rubber, regardless of actual wear.
When you start your car for the first time, it may need a few turns until fuel is able to be drawn from the tank to the engine. And when it does fire, don’t panic if there is some exhaust smoke, and even, probably, a smell too. Condensation will almost certainly have gathered in the exhaust and it’ll take the car getting warm and having a good run until this starts to disappear.
Fresh petrol may also be needed in the tank as the point of combustion can change with stale fuel.