There’s nothing better after a long cold and damp season than the smell of cherry blossoms, the sound of birds chirping and the sight of shiny sports, classic and luxury cars emerging from garage hibernation. Before you fire up the engine that has been idle for the last few months, here is a checklist of how to properly take your summer wheels out of storage.
When tucking a vehicle away for the winter, using a battery tender is ideal. This helps the state of charge stay at maximum as a continuous drain hurts overall battery life. If you haven’t, get access to one and charge to full before turning the key. Examine the cables and terminals as well for corrosion and oxidization — dip a small brush in water and baking soda to fix up any dirty parts to ensure a proper connection. For batteries that were unplugged or became completely discharged, the onboard infotainment system may need to be reset afterwards via a code found in paperwork included with the car or obtained from your dealer.
Regardless of whether the engine oil was changed prior to storage, a fresh replacement is recommended as condensation and contaminants may have formed while sitting. A new bottle of oil and filter is a small price to pay for the long-term health of the mill. At the same time, inspect the other fluids to see if anything else requires a top-up. When pumping gas for the first time, use a high-grade octane to smooth out the rough starts often accompanying the initial handful of cranks.
Pump up tires
Tire pressure will have slowly dropped over half a year, so an infusion of air is necessary to bring the psi back up to normal levels. Open the driver’s side door and see what the sticker in the doorjamb indicates is the appropriate pressure and fill accordingly, using a gauge to measure as you go along. Also perform a quick visual check for any irregularities like cracks, nails or bulges, and see if there’s enough tread to last through the summer and early fall.
Listen for noises
It’s normal for a little brake squeal to happen on the maiden drive, as surface rust on the rotor or drum is cleaned off during operation. If braking continues to cause unusual sounds, or you feel that something doesn’t feel right, schedule a service appointment right away.