There comes a special time every year in Minnesota when thousands of people change out their practical 4 wheel drive vehicles for their beloved summer cars. Getting to see all the fun cars out on the road again with smiling drivers is one of the things I love about the changing seasons. I know it hasn’t felt like summer is coming anytime soon here at our Minnesota locations, but rest assured it is on its way.
With summer on the horizon it’s almost time to uncover that beauty and hit the roads! (A very exciting time of year for car enthusiasts!)
To make sure you're taking the very best care of your summer vehicle, it’s important to give it everything it needs before hitting the road for the first time after sitting all winter.
I’ll share 6 things for you to consider before you get out there and let your hair blow in the wind.
6 Steps To Taking Your Vehicle Out Of Storage
1. Uncover Your Vehicle
It’s time for your vehicle to see the sunshine! The one you've kept tucked away in your garage under a cover and have been dreaming about all winter long. It is FINALLY time to uncover that sports car you worked so hard for, or the RV your family makes its memories in, or even your rare classic ride.
You can fold up and put away that cover you used to keep your vehicle shiny, clean and scratch free. Don’t worry about taking that thing back out all summer long. We know you’ll be hitting the road with it any chance you get!
2. Check Your Battery
Start out with checking your vehicle’s battery to make sure that it is fully charged. When a vehicle sits for a long time, the battery can often lose charge. Batteries lose their charge because of the many onboard computer modules and newer technology that comes standard in today's vehicles. Things like backup cameras, heated seats, lane departure and other safety features draw on the battery even when the vehicle is turned off. Driving a vehicle regularly, will keep the battery charged up.
Sometimes people choose to remove their vehicle’s battery before storage. If you did, simply reconnect your battery to your vehicle then test it to be sure it is still working well. Even a sitting battery can lose power.
3. Tire Pressure
Another thing that can be affected by sitting through the winter are your vehicle’s tires. Check your vehicle’s tire pressures and fill them to the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch). You may also notice that the sidewall of your tires lists a tire pressure. Consumer Reports says that this is the maximum tire pressure allowed for your tires. We do not recommend putting the maximum tire pressure in. Refer to the owner's manual or a sticker on the driver’s door frame. Putting your tires at maximum pressure will decrease the longevity of your tire tread and force them to wear out before they are supposed to. Your ride comfort will also be worse.
Additionally to checking your vehicle’s tire pressure and filling them to the recommended PSI, it is also beneficial to check your tires over for any rips, punctures or bulging. Run your hand across the tread to check for these issues if these issues don’t seem to be visible.
4 Test the Brakes
There are a few different things that can happen to your vehicle’s brakes when it sits idle for an extended period of time. The main issue that can happen with them is rust. Your brake system mainly consists of metal material that will rust over time, especially when sitting still and not being used. Brake lines, brake rotors, brake calipers, and brake pads, are a few components to be concerned about. The most common brake issue that happens when a vehicle sits, is a brake line leak. The lines are small in diameter, but run along the frame rail in a moisture prone area, thus creating rust intrusion.
Making sure your brakes are working properly is an important safety precaution before hitting the road. The easiest way to check your brakes is to slowly drive your vehicle while pumping your brake pedal. Checking this in the driveway or the garage, before you are on the road, is worth the extra few minutes.
5 Double Check Fluids
Checking your fluids is a must. Maintaining proper fluid levels in your vehicle is one of the best things you can do to help your vehicle’s longevity.
An easy way to spot a potential problem with your vehicle’s fluids is looking under your vehicle to see if there are any leaks left behind after sitting through the winter. If you see a puddle or spots of oil, be sure to give your trusted auto repair shop a call to give them some details about what you see. Is there coolant in the overflow bottle or radiator? Are the power steering fluid and brake fluid reservoirs full? Is there enough oil on the dipstick? Is there a transmission fluid dipstick to check as well?
Fluids To Check
- Coolant (or Antifreeze)
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Oil: Consider also changing your oil, having good oil and the right levels of oil in your vehicle is the best thing you can do for your engine. If you want to know how to check your oil, check out this article we wrote. How To: Check Your Oil
6 Don’t Forget the Insurance
Last thing, don’t forget to make sure your insurance is set up. A lot of people pause their policies on their vehicles while they sit over the winter. Be sure you give your insurance agent a call and let them know you will be taking your vehicle out on the road again. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks to process the switch over so give yourself some extra time to get it set up.
Just like that and you are ready to go! Enjoy the warm weather and your favorite vehicle while you hit the road. We will see you out there!