Expert spring tips to get your classic car back on the road

Tips from Toyota’s Master Technician on how to get a car back into service for a spring and summer of trouble-free driving

expert spring tips to get your classic car back on the road

With the weather finally clearing up and the prospect of the Easter holidays on the way, now is the time for many classic car enthusiasts to take their pride and joy out of winter storage.

After months hidden from the elements, it’s tempting to just hop in and drive in the sun, but experts urge owners to make sure their classic is safe and ready for a spring and summer on the road.

Graham Bothamley is Toyota UK Press Fleet Manager and Lead Toyota Technician, managing over 100 cars, from the latest Yaris to classic 1980s Corolla AE86 coupes and one of the original Lexus LFA supercars. .

expert spring tips to get your classic car back on the road

He’s shared his top 10 tips for getting a classic out of storage and back on the road, from essential safety measures to easy maintenance.

Graham Bothamley is responsible for Toyota’s press fleet, including modern and classic models.

“First and foremost is safety,” says Graham. “Cars that have been sitting still for a long time can develop problems and your first task is to make sure your classic is safe to drive.

“Some items can go bad or degrade when not in use, others can corrode, and then there’s always the issue of rodent damage, it’s amazing how much a little mouse can cost you.

“Once you’ve established that it’s safe, you need to make sure it’s set up and doesn’t leave you stranded or with a big bill. A little time and mechanical sympathy now will help ensure a brilliant season of driving your old car.”

Here are Graham’s top ten tips for getting your classic out of storage and enjoying a great season on the road.

Simple checks before you first head out could save you headaches later on.
  1. Check the oil levels and look for signs of leaks. Pipes can develop leaks even when not in use, as they expand and contract with large changes in temperature during the winter and spring. Inspect the fuel lines for the same reason (and double check if your classic can run on E10 gasoline with those stock lines). Remove the fuel filler cap and smell the fuel vapor to make sure the gasoline in the tank is okay after storage.
  2. Check the coolant level and look for signs of leaks or corrosion in the system. Make sure when you have completed this checklist that you warm up the engine and check the system for leaks again when warm; it is better to find out on the road than on the road.
  3. Check brake pedal feel, fluid level, and condition. Check the brake hoses for cracks. If your car hasn’t moved for a while, old brake systems can suffer. Don’t assume it will stop like it did the day you put it away for winter.
  4. Check if the parking brake releases properly, inspect the brakes visually, and then when you first start the car, drive slowly a few feet, and the same in reverse, to see if there are any sticking or dragging noises or if the vehicle continues to move afterwards. brakes are applied.
  5. Check/charge 12v battery; top it up if needed (a “trickle” charger for winter use is a great addition if you don’t already have one).
  6. Check exterior lights to see if they work properly.
  7. Check windshield washer fluid level, wiper operation, and wiper blades for cracks (rubber can dry out, crack, and split during storage, especially in well-insulated, warm, dry garages).
  8. Check tire condition: correct pressures, look for cracks, check tread depth. Also check that the lug nuts are still tightened to the correct torque.
  9. Check for rodent damage. Our furry friends can be a real problem. Use a torch to check for chewed-up cables and wires, and for signs of nesting in the engine compartment and wheel arches. A nest can interfere with safe operation and even present a fire hazard, and chewed cables are a real safety issue. Be especially careful when checking the air filter as rodents seem to like the texture of the element when building a house! Remove air box and inspect thoroughly.
  10. Get the ITV even if it is not a legal requirement. It’s a great way to get a second safety check even if your classic is registered as “Historic” and exempt from MOT.

And Graham also has one final piece of advice. “After your first proper drive in the car, it’s a good idea to go through most of this list again. Heat, expansion, vibration, etc. can expose problems that may have been hidden when the car was stationary. But most important of all, enjoy it.”

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