Dave's Cars

Reviving a Sleeping Automobile


    Cars in storage suffer most from
  • damage caused by water absorption in the brake fluid, which causes rust in the master cylinder and wheel cylinders
  • surface rust or white corrosive build-up on the engine cylinder walls
  • gasoline that has turned to foul smelling varnish that gums up the carburettor
  • tire rot
  • mice

    Change out all of the fluids
  • change the oil and filter
  • bleed out the entire brake system twice to ensure all old fluid is out
  • this is a good time to switch to DOT 5 - Silicone brake fluid
  • drain the radiator and block of coolant and replace with 50/50 antifreeze mix
  • drain out all of the gasoline in the fuel system, totally

    For more severe, longer periods of inactivity
  • there may be no point at all in trying to change brake fluid
  • master brake may need to be rebuilt/replaced
  • start by tearing down every brake cylinder for inspection and possible rebuild
  • expect to replace several of them
  • master & clutch slave may need to be rebuilt/replaced
  • Likely the rear brake cylinders will have leaked fluid into the drum, which means new shoes
  • if the carbs have plastic floats, the plastic floats will need to be replaced
  • replace all the soft brake lines
  • change all the soft fuel lines (to ethanol resistant)
  • rebuild the fuel pump (same reason), etc
  • have the radiator "rodded out" or replaced or recored.
  • full chassis service; best practice is probably to disassemble, clean and relube anything with grease in it including wheel bearings, wiper motor and so on

    Take care of the engine
  • remove the spark plugs and do not reuse
  • using a plastic tube, fill each cylinder with Marvel Mystery Oil (available at most auto supply stores)
  • let it sit for a day, then refill each cylinder as needed, MMO will seep past the rings and provide the lubrication needed for those rings when you start up
  • if possible, turn the engine over by hand at least one full turn (360 degrees) without the spark plugs the engine should turn fairly easily
  • install a new battery
  • disconnect the coil wire
  • engage starter motor until there is oil pressure indicated on the gauge
  • replace coil wire and install new spark plugs
  • clean carburetor including clean out the fuel bowls (carb rebuild may be required)
  • add fresh hi-test fuel to the tank and include fuel system additive that has carb cleaning properties
  • install a new fuel filter, preferably a clear in-line filter so that you can see if there is crud in the system
  • start the car, chipmunks and other small nesting animals will be blown out the exhaust at this time
  • run for 2-3 minutes, turn the engine off, and look underneath for fluids
  • run engine up to normal operating temperature keeping an eye on the gauges, shut it off and look under the engine again