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Tips to Prepare Your Car for Spring

Posted by on Friday, April 27, 2018 in Articles

Spring is here and it’s time to get your vintage iron ready for the summer driving season.

Before you drag out the car from storage and start laying down the miles, now would be a good time to do some pre-driving maintenance on your car if you haven’t already.

I thought we’d put together a short list of items that we on the insurance side of the equation see as important areas to cover (particularly from a claims standpoint).

Without further ado – let’s get started (I do like my puns intended!)

If you’ve prepared your car for winter storage, then you may need to address a few items such as installing the battery in the vehicle, lowering it down off the jack stands, and airing up the tires. If you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time to put that battery on a trickle charger and get it up to full cranking amps.  While installing it in the car, pay particular attention to cleaning the positive and negative terminals. Now is a good time to check those wires heading to the starter solenoid and ground -checking for nicks, frays, insulation tears and loose terminal connections. When in doubt, replace with new.

Once the battery and charging system is checked out, move on to the fluids. Make sure to check engine oil, coolant and transmission oil levels.  And when was the last time you checked the power steering reservoir or flushed the brake system with new DOT 3 or 4?  If the car is still in the air on jack stands, remove the wheels, grab a mechanical friend, bleed those brakes and check brake pad and shoe thickness.  (those with drums – when was the last time you adjusted shoes?  Or checked the brake cylinders for leaks?)  Rubber flex lines? Check those too for wear marks/bulges or cracking.

All ready to turn the key and crank her up? Not quite yet Sparky. We’ve seen our share of stuck floats and backfires. If you don’t have a good fire extinguisher in your garage yet, put down the tools and head to your local hardware or automotive store to get yourself a good ABC fire extinguisher. Feel better now?

Pro-tip #1:

Roll your car out of its garage space before you turn that key and flood those carbs…I mean, set the choke. Stuck floats, leaky bowls, split fuel lines, dried out diaphragms, you name it, we’ve seen them all be the cause of that four letter “F” word – FIRE.  And once it starts, you open the hood to see what’s wrong, and ‘woosh!’, the fire is now to the height of the ceiling in your garage. Panic sets in, and we’ve got not only a car fire, but a house fire as well. Take it from me, pull/push your car outside of the garage, have fire extinguisher nearby, and then proceed with startup. The house/car you save, may just be your own!

Pro tip #2:

Tires aired up and checked for pressure? Check for dry rot, cracking, and if you can find them, check the date codes. Most vintage cars never wear out tires, they ‘time out’ due to age.  When was the last time they were replaced?  And did you know that tires rot from the inside too? Do you want to risk the delamination game whereby the tire turns into a weed-wacker and tears up your fender at 55 mph? Pro tip #2 – air up the tires before you roll the car out – it makes it easier to push!

Have you checked the coolant level, and engine oil? By the way, when was the last time you changed the oil? Put it off last fall due to weather or the bowl game? What?! You cannot remember?! Now that you’ve prepared the car for startup, -fire it up and do a once over while it sits there idling.  Check for fuel leaks around the carb (if equipped), fuel pump, lines, etc.  Oil leaks?  Coolant circulating properly? (hoses aren’t bulging or weeping?) All systems ‘go’? Sounds like you’re ready for a quick jaunt around the block or even further. But before you do, make sure that you’ve got your most recent Auto Insurance I.D. Card in the car with you. Cannot locate it? Give us a call, and we’ll be happy to send you one immediately.

Pro Tip #3:

Make your own checklist before heading out to start the car for the first time. Every car is unique over the 100+ years of manufacture, and there’s no way that I could call out each car’s unique procedure here in this brief article. Make your list – you know your car better than I, and make it happen. Car driving season is here and we want you to enjoy it fully without incident.

Happy motoring,

Pete