Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
11/24/08 8:20 a.m.

The story always goes like this: “All we did was pull it out of the barn, put in some fresh gas and a new battery, and it started on the second try!” Sometimes, the story is even true. But most of time there’s more to it. Pulling a car out of extended storage and safely putting it back on the road is usually more involved.

Sooner or later most of us will either buy a car that’s been in extended storage or resurrect a car we put into hibernation. For car folks it’s like death and taxes—it’s gonna happen. When we pull that car from extended storage, there are usually three areas we need to address: making it run, making it safe and reliable, and cleaning all the dirt out of it.

Of these three areas, making it run is usually the easiest. Often, it does just require a battery and maybe some fresh gas. Of course, making it run and making it run well are two different things, and the latter proposition is a bit more work.

Cleaning up the car isn’t that bad, either. A trip to the local pay-’n’-spray car wash, some vacuuming, and some detail work generally get the car looking better quickly. Making it safe and reliable is the hard part.

If the car has been sitting for more than five years, the brakes, tires, fuel lines and hoses will likely be rotted from the inside out. Old fuel can turn to goo in carbs and fuel-injection systems. If the car was stored in a wet or humid location, the electrical system will likely prove troublesome. Cables and linkages don’t like getting wet, either, so sorting them out can get to be a challenge.

Nonetheless, that first trip around the block makes all the time and money worth it. Fortunately, there is a pretty straightforward way to address long-term storage issues.

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