8 Tips for Getting a Car Ready for the Spring

Dan Ilika
by Dan Ilika

Another dreary — but mostly mild — winter is almost behind us, which can only mean one thing: We’re that much closer to football season.

Okay, so it means two things, because it’s also the perfect time to get your prized ride back into shape for spring. And the good news is that getting your car back in road-ready condition is far less labor-intensive than getting it ready for storage — though it’s far more rewarding. And so without further ado, here’s our eight-step guide to getting your ride ready for spring.

8. Get it Ready to Ride

If you followed our tips for proper winter storage then it’s time to reap the benefits. Whether it’s been stored in your own garage or another indoor storage facility, it’s been under wraps for a few months now, so peel the cover off and take a step back to admire your chariot. This is also the ideal time to reverse the pest-prevention and odor-eating steps you took at the onset of winter. That means removing both the baking soda from inside the car and the mothballs spread around it. This would also be the time to crack the windows and open the doors to get some fresh air inside.

7. Perform a Thorough Inspection

It’s easy to get a little too eager and skip a few steps in the process, but this one is crucial. Time isn’t very kind to cars, and particularly classic ones, so it’s important to check for issues like cracked hoses and belts. These rubber parts can dry out quickly, and so they should be first on the inspection sheet. Equally important are components like gaskets and seals, which should be checked for possible leaks. It’s all a little time-consuming, sure, but it could save on expensive service bills in the near future. Again, if you followed our winter storage tips then you’ll be benefitting from the the car being on jack stands right about now.

6. Prep the Tires to Hit the Pavement

If you removed the wheels and tires then now’s as good a time as any to put them back on. Regardless, the condition of the tires should be checked for both adequate tread life and the quality of the rubber. Rubber, like any composite material, breaks down over time and needs to be replaced. It’s better to nip this potential issue in the bud. Last but not least, check to ensure there’s enough air pressure in each tire before lowering it back down to solid ground.

5. Check the Battery and Fluids

This is the point at which the decision to replace your car’s fluids late last year looks like a particularly fortuitous one. Not only did doing so prevent harmful contaminants from working their way through your vehicle’s vital components, but it also means it’s that much closer to being road-ready. The same goes for the battery, which should have been removed and stored separately or hooked up to a battery tender. Reconnecting the battery terminals is a big step towards getting your classic or sports car back on the road, so do it with pride.

4. Fire it up For the First time

Finally, after months of leaving it idle it’s time to turn the key and let your car run. If it sounds rough, well, that’s probably because it’s running rough. The fuel, oil and coolant systems have been starved for months, and so it’s important to let it run for 10 minutes or so to get everything operational once again. This is also the perfect time to check the dash for warning lights — something no car guy or gal wants to see when out for a night on the town.

3. Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Washing and waxing your car before putting it away for the winter provides an extra layer of protection against corrosion; now it’s time to take it a step further. Doing the same thing before your first cruise down the boulevard will remove that potentially damaging layer of dust and dirt, not to mention keep your car looking its best.

2. Take it for a Spin

Now that it’s spick and span both inside and out, it’s time to take your prized possession out for its first public appearance. This isn’t, however, the time to show your car off — at least, that’s not the only objective. Instead, this inaugural cruise provides the perfect opportunity to check for any alignment issues or other ailments that may be affecting your automobile. Don’t let your ambitions cloud your judgement; if it’s running rough then it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible.

1. Enjoy It

Of all the steps listed above, this one is the most important. Classic car ownership is a labor of love to be sure, so be sure to love it while you can. Appreciate your time together, and remember that for every one car like yours there are dozens of people who would be happy to own it. So enjoy it while you can — because winter’s right around the corner.

Dan Ilika
Dan Ilika

Dan is AutoGuide.com's Road Test Editor, a long-suffering Buffalo Bills fan, and a car guy since childhood. He enjoys long walks on the beach and long drives just about anywhere the road, track or trail will take him. You'll see him driving around evaluating cars and in front of a camera talking about them. Dan is a member of the World Car of the Year jury.

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