Spring is upon us and it is time to start thinking about your waking up your classic truck from its winter hibernation. We surveyed employees, customers and scoured the web for some helpful suggestions. Here are our top tips for properly prepping your classic truck for driving season. Did we miss something important? Do you have a helpful hint to add? Let us know in the comments section below.
Thorough Visual Inspection
Make sure to give your truck a good, thorough inspection before removing it from its winter storage. Grab a notepad, pencil, flashlight and a creeper and take a serious look around your truck. Temperature changes can affect rubber seals and gaskets so be sure to check for leaks and weeps. Inspect all hoses and belts for cracks, swelling or fraying and replace accordingly. Don’t forget to look for any signs of critters that used your truck to get out of the cold.
Check Fluids & Change the Oil
Even if you changed the oil before winterizing your truck, you’ll want to change it again. The oil has been sitting in the bottom of the pan and filter all winter long, and you don’t want any water or contaminants which have accumulated over the winter to circulate your engine. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here, in this case it is a few quarts and a filter. Don’t forget to check your transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid and power steering fluid for contaminants and top off accordingly. Don’t forget to inspect the windshield wipers and fluid to be prepared for April showers.
Lube the Chassis
Your chassis and suspension is in constant motion. You will want to inspect and lubricate the entire chassis prior to putting it back on the road. Many rely on rubber boots to hold in grease which can crack and split in cold weather. Lubricating the chassis will expel contaminants and water which built up during the damp winter months. Squeaks and creaks are signs of dry suspension components and can lead to premature failure. Check for play in these components after lubrication and replace if worn.
You should have topped off your fuel tank before storage to prevent any moisture to accumulating in your fuel system and the possibility of rust. Some people recommending draining the fuel system and starting with fresh gasoline to eliminate the possibility of water contamination. Modern fuels, especially blends with ethanol tend to gum up easier so you should be running a quality stabilizer to will prevent the fuel from deteriorating for up to 12 months. If you added stabilizer prior to winter storage then this will not be an issue. If draining the tanks, don’t forget the fuel lines and fuel bowls in the carburetor.
Summertime is hard on cooling systems. As with used engine oil, radiator fluid also contains contaminants and if it is time, fresh fluids are recommended to prevent corrosion and rust from forming in the cooling system. Made sure to only use distilled water in your cooling system and add enough antifreeze for your climate. Test strips can be found at your local auto parts store if you are unsure on the proper mixture.
It’s spring time, you uncover your truck, hop in, turn the key and……..nothing. The battery in your truck will progressively go dead over the winter if you did not take the necessary precautions. Examine the battery connections for corrosion, top off with distilled water if needed and make sure the battery is fully charged before taking off on your maiden voyage.
Even if your truck was stored inside all winter, tires will most likely lose pressure as they sit. Pressure is based on ambient temperature so make sure to fill all tires, including spare to proper pressure. You will want to inspect your tires for worn tread, dry rot or flat spots before putting your truck on the road. If any issues are found, replace your tires for optimum safety. It is also a good time to double check those lug nuts.
I know you are in a rush to get and drive but make sure to give your truck a good, thorough bath before putting it back on the open road. Once clean, apply a liberal coat of wax to protect the paint from bird poop, water stains, tar, etc which can permanently damage your paints finish. Don’t forget you can also use wax on chrome to provide a barrier of rust prevention.Properly detail the interior, if you have leather interior, use a good conditioner to prevent it from drying out and cracking.
Before you set off on your spring time maiden voyage, be sure to review all your paperwork. Make sure your registration and insurance is current and your license plate sticker is the correct date.
Proper Warm-Up Procedure
Spark plugs are inexpensive and can tell you a lot about the condition of your engine. It is a good idea to inspect the spark plugs for build up, rust or corrosion prior to your first start up. If your truck has been stored for an extended period, it is a good idea to squirt a little oil in each cylinder while the spark plug is removed to lubricate the piston and rings before re-installing the spark plugs. When you first fire her up, don’t mash on the loud pedal until the engine has come to operating temperature. I know this will be hard but cold oil doesn’t flow well and revving a dry engine can cause bearing and/or cylinder damage. It is a good idea to keep the first drive to about 30 minutes and not to stray too far from home in case an issue arises. Once you get back home, do another check for any leaks or issues. If everything checks out good, get out there and drive.