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If you have a collector car, a little time invested today will pay off when spring cruising weather returns, allowing you to spend just a little more time than it takes to pull the cover and bring it back to life with a twist of the key.
Take care of deferred maintenance now
If you have a carbureted old car that is seldom driven, there may be additional combustion byproducts and fuel vapors in the crankcase. These can settle in the pan over winter, potentially rusting the pan and corroding internal engine parts. So give it a fresh oil change with your favorite oil. It’s not needed nor desirable to start the vehicle and move it if it’s going to be stored only a few months, as it’s unlikely you will get it up to proper operating temperature during that time. You can actually cause more harm than good when you create corrosion-causing water vapor throughout the engine and exhaust system that has no chance to “burn off” because the engine never gets up to the proper temperature.
Check the condition of your brake fluid
Brake fluid, although it operates in a closed system, absorbs moisture over time. If it’s been a few years, consider changing the fluid, especially if it’s discolored and not a light amber or clear color. Dip strips are also available to check the presence of copper in the fluid, which indicates some corrosion has already occurred and the fluid needs to be changed.
Antifreeze/coolant should be checked for more than freeze point
Antifreeze/coolant should be checked for proper strength to protect against freezing and corrosion, which can be a particular concern with dissimilar metals in a collector car, such as aluminum radiators, a cast iron block and water pump, and a steel impeller in the water pump. A leaky radiator’s joints will often be the first victim. The freeze point can be checked with one of several types of antifreeze testers. These use either floating balls or a swinging lever to indicate the specific gravity of the antifreeze/coolant. Most modern antifreeze/coolants protect for at least five years, so if it has not been changed in that time, consider changing it to protect against corrosion.
Don’t forget about the fuel in your tank and the little bare metal parts
Many hot rod and collector car shops recommend storing a vehicle with only ethanol-free fuel, and adding a fuel stabilizer, such as from Startron or Sta-Bil. And wipe down any bare metal parts with a light oil product such as WD-40 or NAPA Wet Graphite Film Lubricant to protect them from rusting.
Maintain your battery
Nothing ruins a bright spring day quite like hearing the dreaded rapid “click, click, click” of a near-dead battery. The best way to avoid this is to connect a battery “maintainer,” which is a slow, low-amperage battery charger designed to stay connected. (Regular battery chargers, even trickle chargers, can quickly overcharge a battery.) Now keep in mind that if you have a newer technology AGM or gel battery, a maintainer designed for that technology is recommended for the best performance and longest life.
If you follow these tips, the drive you’ve been eagerly awaiting to take when that first beautiful spring weekend comes will likely be a trouble-free task.
About Spirit West Rapid Refinish
Spirit West Rapid Refinish, established in 2011, was formed to focus on providing quality service for customers who are paying out of pocket for automobile repairs and streamline the workflow volume. We take great pride with teamwork and our commitment to making sure our team receives training on the latest innovative state-of-the-art equipment and collision repair techniques. We are proud to say our team is family, and we treat our customers like family too. Whether you need minor collision repair services, bumper repair or a refinish of your collector pride-and-joy, give us a call today to see how we can restore your vehicle to its original factory finish.
Spirit West Motor Carriage, founded in 1977, is a full-service auto body repair shop serving the St. Louis and surrounding Metro area. For nearly four decades, our family-owned business and our experienced staff have been providing quality auto collision repair, mechanical, paintless dent repair (PDR), complete paint refinishing, and wheel and framing alignment services.