Removing Your Car From Storage

Its that time of the year again.  The snow is melted away, the temperature is warming up and your thinking about pulling your car out of storage.  Not so fast. Since your car has been sitting for a while now it will need a little preparation just as you would if you sat on the couch all weekend then suddenly decided to go to the gym and exercise.  You and your car may have more in common than you think.  Like your muscles need stretching before the gym your car requires some preparation before it engages in strenuous activity after a long rest.  So before you go and jump in the drivers seat and turn the key there are a few things you should go over first to be safe and to avoid damaging your car.  Below is a check list on how to “stretch and warm up” your car before putting it back into commission after a long term storage.

Recommendations are for vehicles stored less than 6 months

  • Tire pressure:  You may have to let air out if you increased your tire pressure before placing your car in storage.  To find out what the correct tire pressure is for your car look on the passenger side door jam.  Manufactures will usually list factory tire sizes and recommended factory tire pressure measurement on a sticker placed in this area.  If you do not find a sticker here check in your owners manual.  Also use the proper tire pressure gauge to ensure an accurate measurement.  When selecting a tire pressure gauge choose either a digital or needle type gauge.  “pencil gauges”, the type that have a clip for hanging on your shirt tend to be inaccurate and difficult to read.


  • Fluids: If you see any obvious leaks, find out where they are coming from, check the level, then replace the lost fluid.  If the fluid leaked during storage, its going to leak again, so now is the time have these issues fixed. The most important fluids to check are coolant, motor oil, brake fluid, rear differential and transmission fluid.  Be careful not to leave your brake fluid cap off after checking the level of your master cylinder.  If your transmission has lost fluid make sure to add the proper fluid before driving.  If you are unsure of what fluid your transmission requires check your owners manual.   Re-check the level after the vehicle has warmed up and while the engine is running.  But make sure the vehicle is in park or neutral if it is a standard and the emergency brake is on before attempting to check your transmission fluid level.


  • Cooling and Safety: Check radiator hoses, clamps, belts, air cleaner, head lights, turn signals, break lights and look for any lose hardware inside the motor compartment.


  • Remove any rags used to block the exhaust, intake or ac vents:  If you placed rags in your tail pipes, across your intake or inside ac vents be sure to remove them before starting the vehicle.


  • Battery:  Check your battery to ensure that it has maintained a full charge during storage.  Even if you used a battery tender during the storage period you should always make sure you have a healthy battery before you take your car out to avoid getting stranded later on.  You can easily test your  battery before starting your vehicle with a voltmeter.  Use the voltmeter to test the cranking voltage by measuring your batteries voltage while cranking the motor.  You can purchase a multimeter at a local auto parts store like, NAPA, Pep Boys or AutoZone.  Make sure you read the directions supplied with the voltmeter so you know what settings on the voltmeter are required for this test.  Before performing this test disable the ignition or injection system to prevent the motor from starting.  While cranking the motor  GM recommends 9.6 volts or above at 70 degrees.  Check your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends.


  • Oil Pressure:  Run your oil pressure up before starting the motor – If your car is an older vehicle and considered a classic you should bring your oil pressure up to the required running psi before starting the motor.  An easy way to run the oil pressure up on older carbureted vehicles is to first remove the coil wire to prevent starting, then crank the motor over until the oil pressure gauge displays the proper running psi.   Before cranking your motor make sure the vehicle is in park or neutral if it is a standard and the parking brake is engaged.  Also test your battery to see if it is fully charged before performing this test.  Cranking your motor long enough to run up your oil pressure will require a fully charged battery and will quickly drain a weak one.


If you follow these recommendations your car will be in good shape and ready to go, but that also doesn’t mean you should stop monitoring your car after its out of storage.  Keep your car enjoyable and trouble free by regularly checking the oil level, coolant,  tire pressure, brakes and most importantly keeping it clean.


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