Why storing your car is bad for its health
If you've seen the LATEST EPISODE (CLICK HERE) you'll have seen Marty brought back one of his most-beloved little nuggets for another round of work. However, while the honkiest of tonks has been tucked away safely in dry, indoor storage, that doesn't mean it hasn't needed a fair bit of work to bring it back to a useable condition.
Whether you drive your car almost every day, or leave it sitting in the garage for long periods of time there are plenty of parts which will slowly deteriorate no matter how often, or how little, you use it. Marty has discovered this with his Nissan March Super Turbo, which has been patiently waiting for its turn to get some more work done to truly make it King of the Honks.
When sitting in a garage perishable components made from rubber (including suspension bushings, accessory belts, hoses and weather stripping) can dry out and fail, leading to a dangerous situation where your formerly mint nugget will suddenly get all sloppy and worn-out or leaky on you.
Sometimes these parts can start to deteriorate within a matter of months, so it is always a good idea to periodically check on your car and inspect perishable items by checking they're still supple and don't have any dried or cracked areas. It is always easier to replace something before it breaks, rather than afterwards when it is covered in spilled fluids or broken schmutz.
It should be no surprise that any stored car should get fresh fluids and filters before you bring it back into service, and throwing new accessory belts on is a good idea to avoid breakdowns or dealing with issues like a slipping alternator charge, overheating from the water pump belt slipping, and the like.
If your car has sat for a long time (more than a year) it is a really good idea to pull the spark plugs out and wind the engine over by hand to make sure nothing is stuck. Fresh spark plugs and priming the oil system takes very little time to do, and can really help save a lot of nasty wear on the engine.
Bearings and tensioners are another item to check carefully, because they can fail from lack of regular use. If a wheel bearing fails it can lead to a catastrophic crash, so taking the time to jack up your car and inspect for any slop or grinding in the wheel bearings can potentially save your life.
Throwing some fresh grease in the bearings is a great idea for any older car, as the grease will degrade and eventually dry out. This causes a problem because the bearing relies on this grease for cooling, and hot bearings will eventually catch fire and can burn your car to the ground - every summer holiday period there are countless caravans and boats on fire by the sides of highways because overheated wheel bearings have caught fire, so don't let it happen to you!
While you're poking around the suspension triple-check the brakes are in good condition by bleeding the fluid and inspecting all the hoses. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it degrades and pulls water in as soon as the fluid is exposed to air. When a car has been sitting buy a large container of new brake fluid and run a thorough flush right through the lines.
On older cars with drum brakes, throwing new wheel cylinders on is an excellent safety step. Remember, you're not the only person on the roads and other peoples' safety is all of our concern, so be safe with your brakes.
One of the least pleasant areas to deal with when working on a car that has been in storage is old fuel. It stinks. It stings. And it will gum up fuel injectors, leave stains in your tank, and corrode your pump, so get rid of it.
Sometimes, on old cars which have a history of sitting around, you'll actually need to pull the whole tank out to give it a clean. This avoids the issue with all the rust and grot that builds up from sitting around blocking the pump inlet, or travelling down the fuel lines to wreck the injectors or other fuel system parts.
Somtimes you can get away with pulling the tank out, removing the pump and sender, then throw a few handfuls of clean nuts and bolts into it with a few litres of aggressive degreaser. Shake the tank around and let the bolts act like sandpaper on the grot, then tip it all out (into a container, not the drain) and see how good a job it has done. Repeat until all the worst of the grot is gone.
For rusty tanks companies like KBS Coatings make kits with special products designed for you to wash out the inside of the tank and coat it with a special sealant that will prevent the grot and rust from getting into your fuel system.
All up bringing a car back from storage is fun, but these jobs will hopefully prevent any failures or breakdowns preventing you from enjoying your noble steed.