About the worst thing you can do to a vehicle is let it sit for a long period of time. Worse still if you let it sit on the open ground, especially during winter. Now that spring has sprung, check out these Powerbuilt Tools car maintenance and tool tips from Eric the Car Guy.
It’s been in storage all winter. Spring has finally sprung, and you’re ready to bring your ‘baby’ out of the garage and put it back on the road. Here are 5 tips to follow before you hit the pavement after hibernation.
Tip #1 - Inspect, Inspect, Inspect
Before you even start your vehicle, if space allows, look everything over. Keep an eye out for leaks, and especially signs of animal intrusion. I find this to be most common if you have pets. Pet food also attracts rodents and other critters that might take up residence in your vehicle while it’s parked.
I’ve seen more than one vehicle cavity filled with pet food. Rodents also love to chew on wires, often under the dash where you can’t see the damage. Be on the lookout.
Tip #2- Check the Tires
Many people go by mileage for when to replace tires. I prefer to go by time, especially on vehicles that spend a lot of time in storage. Dry rot, flat spots, and slow leaks are some things to be on the lookout for.
Most tires sold in the US have a date code stamped somewhere on the tire. This is a 4 digit code usually proceeded by the letters “DOT”. The first 2 digits are the week in which the tire was made, and the second pair of digits represent the year. For example, 2617. This would be a tire that was made in the 26th week of 2017. A good rule of thumb is to replace tires about every 5 years.
Tip #3 - Check the Battery
I often put my vehicles in storage on a battery tender. This helps maintain the battery while the vehicle is in storage. If you don’t follow this practice, you may need to charge your battery before starting your engine.
Don’t fast charge or jump-start battery that’s been sitting. Batteries don’t like that. Also, don’t charge a battery with the alternator. This can overwork the alternator and possibly damage it.
It’s best to put a dead battery on a trickle charge overnight. If the battery won’t charge on a trickle charge overnight, replace the battery. A good battery should hold a static charge of 12.6v and not fall under 9v when loaded with a battery tester.
Tip #4 - Prime the Engine Before You Start it
What I mean by this is to make sure your engine is circulating oil before starting it. As the engine sits, all of the oil eventually makes its way down into the oil pan. This means that the components in the upper part of the engine will be starved for oil on first start up.
A good way to prevent this is to crank the engine with no fuel delivery until it creates some oil pressure. I usually pull the fuel pump relay to disable the fuel pump and then crank the engine.
Or if you have the means to drive the oil pump directly without turning the engine over, I sometimes use a drill with a special attachment to drive the oil pump on old V8 engines, you’ll have even more protection on first start up.
You might also consider removing the spark plugs and putting a small drop of oil into each cylinder before cranking the engine. This will help protect the rings and cylinder walls from damage during the first time you fire it up.
Tip #5 - Keep Your Eyes, Ears and Nose Open
It may take a bit for your car to ‘wake up’ after hibernation. During that time listen for abnormal noises, and keep your nose open for any strange smells. Also, check for leaks that may crop up. I often find that vehicles that sit tend to have more fluid leaks because the seals get dry rotted.
If you pass the 2 day mark without incident, you should be in the clear, at least for a while, but it’s probably not a bad idea to have your vehicle looked over by a qualified mechanic just for good measure. They may be able to spot something you didn’t.
There you have it - 5 tips for making sure your ride is in tip-top shape this spring