Running your car after short-term storage - Mick's Mechanical Tips 435

By: Mick McCrudden

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Waking up your classic kindly after its long winter rest

It’s that time of year again. Holidays (if you’re lucky) and it’s the day to wake up the second love of your life (the car, in case you weren’t sure…) and you want to take the old girl out (the car) for a much needed run. It’s been sitting for months, so maybe just hitting the starter and hoping for the best isn’t the way to go.

Without a bit of prep, all you’re going to end up with is a big pile of heartache. Even though these things were built strong, they get a little more fragile as they get older.

Given it’s been laying around for a good while, I’m going to drain the oil and eventually drain all the fluids. The fluids do go off, and some such as coolant can be destructive while they sit. Now when I’m draining oil and coolant from a cold car that’s been sitting, I don’t rush. Give it a day or two to drain properly.

When you’re draining the radiator, have a good look at the last of the fluid coming out, and maybe have a feel around to see if there is any ‘crunchiness’ – crusts from corrosion. If so, get in there and give a good flush with a hose.


If I’m being thorough, I like to get the carburettor and the tappet covers off. With carbs, especially the old Holleys, the gaskets tend to dry out and leak when you fire it up again. So a good clean and fresh gaskets will do wonder. You really don’t want a fuel leak under the bonnet, as it can end in tears.

As for the tappet covers, this is a good time to get in there have a look around, check the state of the pushrods, make sure the rockers are okay and do the clearances.

When it comes to oil on your older cars you’re looking for a good-quality mineral and I tend to use Penrite. I wouldn’t bother with a flushing oil unless what’s coming out is really bad, in which case you might be looking at a bigger job.


The transmission oil should be easy. Pull the pan off, make sure it’s not full of bits of metal, put in a fresh gasket and oil and away you go.

As for brake fluid, make sure you’re using the correct DOT number for that car. You can simply gravity bleed them, which means popping the top off the master cylinder, then opening one brake’s bleed nipple at a time, ensuring you keep the master-cylinder topped up to avoid letting air in. Keep doing this until you see nice clean fluid coming through.

That will be enough to give the old dear (yes... the car)a new lease of life for a while. Happy holidays.

Note: Mick runs Glenlyon Motors in Brunswick, Vic. Tel (03) 9380 5082.

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