After a long, cold winter, it’s time for track cars to come out of hibernation in many parts of the country. There’s a lot that can go wrong when a car sits for months, so here’s a refresher for getting vehicles out of storage.
Getting Vehicles Out of Storage Checklist
- Check everything under the hood. Grab a flashlight and look for anything out of the ordinary in the engine bay. Make sure no furry visitors have built nests while you were away. Verify the air filter is clean. Check all your cables, belts and hoses for signs of damage, wear, cracks or loose fittings. Inspect the levels of all your fluids and top up as needed.
- Check for leaks under the car. Check end to end for fluid leaks and puddles under the car. Also inspect wheels and tires, since brake calipers and cylinders can leak onto the wheels directly. If there are any leaks, find the source and do repairs before heading out on the road.
- Check your battery. Everyone handles the battery issue differently. Some bring it inside for winter, some use a battery tender or trickle charger, some disconnect. In any case, inspect and clean the terminals and wires. Check for signs of overcharging, charge as needed and then reconnect it.
- Check the tires. Tires can bulge, crack and develop flat spots from sitting too long in the same spot, so inspect all treads and inner and outer sidewalls. All tires tend to lose pressure over time so you probably will need to reinflate to set the correct tire pressure.
- Prime the engine. You don’t want to start a cold, unlubricated engine that’s been sitting this long. Depending on car, you can turn the key to the “on” position and let the electric fuel pump do its thing. Or if you have an older cam-driven fuel pump, you can unplug the coil wire to crank the engine without starting to build oil pressure and get fuel to the carburetor or fuel injection.
- Start the car. Once the engine is primed, start the engine and let the car idle for a few minutes. Go back around the vehicle checking that everything is working and nothing is leaking. Pay attention to exhaust for black or white smoke.
- Check the brakes and clutch. Make sure all your pedals feel normal, with no sponginess, normal pedal travel and correct return to rest function. Go around the car again to check for any leaks, paying attention to the master cylinder, wheel cylinders and clutch cylinder.
- Go for a test drive. Finally, it’s time to hit the road, but don’t overdo it. Give your track car a short test drive around the neighborhood. A few miles is good. Check the steering and braking as you go and then go back over the car to see if any other problems have become apparent.
- Go for a longer drive. Put some miles on the car and drive for at least 30 minutes to bring the car back into its proper form. Then perform preventative engine maintenance for the summer season. Change the oil, check the cooling system, adjust the carburetor, bleed the brakes, and make sure you’re ready for the next track day.
- Check your coverage. Maintain coverage for street-legal vehicles during storage. For track cars, make sure you’re covered before you drive onto the track. Remember that most regular insurance doesn’t cover HPDE events. But with Lockton Motorsports, you can get HPDE coverage easily, right up until the minute you drive on the track.
With Lockton Motorsports, you are protected from damage when you’re participating in HPDE, track day or time trial events.