Originally published March 19, 2021. Last updated February 28, 2024.

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.

1. 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 that the air filter is clean. Check all of the cables, belts and hoses for loose fittings, cracks and signs of wear or damage. Inspect the levels of all the fluids and top off as needed.

2. Check for Leaks Under the Car

Check end to end for fluid leaks and puddles under the car. Also inspect the wheels and tires, since brake calipers and cylinders may leak directly onto the wheels. If there are any leaks, find the source and do repairs before heading out on the road.

3. 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 it. In any case, inspect the terminals and wires and clean off any corrosion. Check for signs of overcharging, charge the battery as needed and then reconnect it.

4. 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.

5. Prime the Engine

You don’t want to start a cold, unlubricated engine that’s been sitting this long. Depending on the 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.

6. 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 the exhaust, looking for black or white smoke.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Check Your Coverage

Like your car itself, your car’s insurance is important to maintain. Keep the coverage active for street-legal vehicles during storage. Out on the track, coverage is also key, but you may need additional protection. Remember that this is because most regular auto insurance policies do not cover HPDE events. However, Lockton Motorsports offers HPDE Insurance specifically designed to protect your car from damage while participating in HPDE events.

Why Choose HPDE Insurance?

Even with a well-maintained track car that’s just come out of storage, it’s possible to have an accident due to events outside your control. The result could be that your car gets damaged and now you’re out your investment in either a dedicated track car or your daily driver.

But with HPDE Insurance, you are protected when you’re participating in HPDE, track day or time trial events. Our policy covers:

  • Street-legal cars and non-licensed track cars.
  • Modifications you’ve made to your car.
  • Two drivers at each event at no additional cost.
  • Any demonstration laps your instructor drives.

Getting HPDE coverage is easy. You can purchase your policy online, either ahead of time or the day of an event, at LocktonMotorsports.com.