How to take your car out of storage

How to take your car out of storage

Bringing a treasured car out of storage can feel incredibly rewarding. However, regardless of whether your car has been put away for the Winter, or has spent years in a garage waiting for its moment, the process you go through to return it to the open road in crucial to maintaining its condition and performance. 

The sound of the engine coming to life is fantastic but the rival process is essential for reliability. It will also save time and money moving forward as it can prevent common issues that arise from prolonged storage. 

So, let's get started on bringing your car back to life. 

1. Check and replace fluids

The place to start is checking and potentially replacing engine fluids. Over time fluids will degrade or even evaporate, which will leave your engine components at risk of damage when you start it up.

The engine oil is essential for lubricating and cooling. If your oil is dark, gritty or below the minimum level, it's time for a change. An oil change ensures smooth operations and prevents excessive wear and tear. 

Next check the coolant, which is critical for regulating engine temperature. Ensure the coolant is full and free from sludge. If you have any doubt replacing your coolant is a wise move. 

Also, check the brake fluid and transmission fluid levels. Low or dirty brake fluid can compromise braking efficiency and safety, while the correct level of clean transmission fluid is vital for smooth gear shifts and overall transmission health.

Tip: Considering a fuel stabiliser

Petrol can degrade over time which leads to the formation of varnish and gum inside your engine. If you hadn't added a fuel stabliser before storing your vehicle, it's not too late. Adding it to the petrol tank even after storage can mean the effects of degraded fuel can be minimised. It will keep the whole fuel system clean and efficient.  

2. Inspect and charge the battery

The battery should be your next checkpoint. This will likely have lost charge in storage which will prevent your car from starting. Inspect the battery for signs of corrosion on the terminals as this will undermine the flow of electricity. 

If you have a battery tester then check the level of charge as it could need a recharge. If you've stored your vehicle away with disconnecting the battery terminals it's likely the battery will have significantly discharged. In other cases it could be that the battery is too damaged or old and a new battery might be the best option to avoid ongoing problems.

3. Clean the exterior and interior

Once you've ensured the engine and electrics are up to scratch it's time to focus on aesthetics buy giving your car a good clean. Effective car detailing isn't just about looks either, the techniques and products you use should protect materials from longer term damage. 

The exterior (however clean it was when you stored the vehicle) will likely be dusty. A quality quick detailer like 303 Automotive Speed Detailer will effectively lift dust and dirt without causing scratches. 

Moving to the interior, check for any signs of mildew or mold. Use a cleaner designed for car interiors, such as 303 Interior Cleaner. It's safe on a variety of materials, including fabrics, leather, and plastics, ensuring that everything from the dashboard to the carpets is not only clean but also conditioned and protected.

4. Check tyres and brakes

Move on to the brakes, checking for any rust on the discs. Some surface rust from moisture in the air can be normal if the car has been sitting idle, and it usually wears off after a few uses. However, if the rust appears deep, it might require a closer inspection.

Press the brake pedal to feel for any sponginess or unusual resistance, which could indicate air in the hydraulic lines or degraded brake fluid. Listen for any grinding noises when applying the brakes, as these can signal that the brake pads or discs need replacing.

Tyres can lose pressure while the car is stationary for prolonged periods, leading to flat spots or uneven wear. Ensure each tyre is inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level, this helps in maintain tyre performance and fuel efficiency.

Look for any signs of cracking or degradation on the tyre sidewalls, which can occur with age and lack of use. Examine the tread depth to ensure it's above the legal minimum (1.6mm in the UK), which is crucial for adequate grip, especially in wet conditions.

5. Perform wider checks before driving

Before you take your car out for its first post-storage spin, it's crucial to conduct a comprehensive safety check.

  1. Check lights and signals
  2. Inspect belts, hoses and connections
  3. Test the horn
  4. Start the engine
  5. Take an initial slow drive


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