Ah, spring! With the snow melted away, the sun high in the sky, and birds chattering overhead, there's nothing better than dropping the top on your classic roadster and going for a spin down a tree-lined lane, or opening her up to zip down an empty country road. Of course, you're also going to want to make sure your beauty is looking her best for the spring car shows, especially after a winter wrapped in tarps in a cold garage, so here are nine things you should do before you drive further than around the block:
1.) Flush the fuel. It may seem wasteful since we recommended putting a full tank of gas and anti-freeze in the tank before you overwintered your car, but it's really important to flush the fuel lines and drain the gas tank, so you can start with fresh fuel that hasn't been sitting and stagnating for six months. Be sure to check the carburetor float bowls as well, and always make sure to follow your city's rules for disposing of motor fuel.
2.) Can the coolant. Just like the fuel system, you'll want to drain the coolant and flush that system as well. Many modern coolants include corrosion inhibitors that have spent the winter slowly eating away any rust inside the cooling system, and if you don't flush the lines, you could cause a blockage down the road. When you replace the coolant, you can use a 50/50 blend of water and anti-freeze.
3.) Change the Oil. There's a very good chance that the oil in your car has been contaminated by water or rust-causing acids. Drain and replace the oil with a fresh batch, and don't forget to change the filter, as well.
4.) Charge the Battery. Check your battery's strength and charge it if necessary. If your spring weather is still more chilly than cheerful, you'll also want to keep the battery warm until you're ready to reinstall it and operate the car. BEFORE you put the spark plugs (see point five) back into the car, turn the engine over using just the key - and do so several times to allow lubricant to coat the cylinder walls and prime the oil and fuel pumps. You'll want to repeat this action until the oil pressure light goes off.
5.) Lubricate the Cylinders: A car that has been stored for winter is prone to having stuck piston rings, or may just be really dry. Remove the spark plugs, and use a lubricant designed for the job to coat the upper cylinders. Don't put the spark plugs back in until you've turned the engine over several times, as explained in point four.
6.) Charm your Carburetor. Once the battery and spark plugs have been reinstalled, remove the cover from the air filter and spray engine starter fluid into the carburetor mouths to help make sure the first attempt at starting your engine is successful.
7.) Bleed the Brakes. The brake lines should be bled, and the brake and clutch master cylinders should be checked to make sure they're full of brake fluid. Check the emergency braking system, also.
8.) Get it Warm. After you are satisfied that all the necessary systems are in working order, start the car, but don't rev the engine. Rather, idle the car and allow the engine to warm up. Then, pull out of the garage, and check the vacated garage floor to be certain that there are no fluid leaks. Finally take a very short drive - about half an hour - just to make sure all systems are really "go."
9.) Detail Clean. The last thing to do before you show off your car is to give it a thorough cleaning. You may have done this before you put the car into storage last winter, but you want the chrome to be gleaming, the paint to be shiny, etc. Not only does this make your car look better, but it helps prevent corrosion. So wash and dry the car, inside and out. Clean and shine the tires and the upholstery, and after the car is completely dry, add a fresh coat of wax.
After all this, your collectible car is ready to see and be seen on the open road or at the various auto shows that offers auto reviews in your region. Pack a picnic lunch, pick a sunny day, go for a drive, and grin as people point and stare at your vehicle when you drive by.