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Bringing a car back from the dead!

Discussion in 'Helpful Tech Tools & DIY Garage Tips' started by Action, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

    Mar 22, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Phoenix, AZ 85008
    OK dramatic title for getting an old(er) car that has sat for some time to be road worthy and more. What follows is a general guide to bring your car back from the dead.

    So you have found your ride, it ran when it was parked. (LOL) Negotiated a deal with the seller and got your new (to you) ride transported to your possession! Now the fun begins.

    Most cars that have been sitting for any length of time almost always did not have any maintenance during that time and not much in the months or more before it was parked. And during the selling process maintenance may have one of the things that was neglected. I usually assume nothing other than neglected maintenance, get it running – Start the maintenance cycle from zero at this point!
    1. Change all fluids and filters – Engine oil, transmission oil, coolant, air filter, fuel filter, crankcase filter if equipped – drain & blow out old fuel if needed. Replace cooling system hoses as needed. Repack wheel bearings with new grease seals if possible on your vehicle. Rear axle fluid should be good forever. Brake fluid not so much and covered below.
    2. Do a tune up of sorts – Replace: spark plugs, points/condenser/ rotor if equipped, spark plug wires, distributor cap & fan belts if there is any question about condition. Inspect carburetor (if equipped) use spray cleaner on outside if needed. Remove idle mixture screws (count the turns to re-install in the same position) and spray cleaner in the idle circuit. If necessary remove carb top and inspect float bowl for debris or varnish. Clean as needed.
    3. Miscellaneous – Tires: they have a date code. https://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-read-your-tire.html If older than 10 years replace as soon as possible no matter what the tread condition. Brakes: Remove wheels and inspect brake linings for enough material and check to see there are no hydraulic leaks. Repair as needed. In addition you may want to flush the fluid. Brake fluid can absorb water or moisture. If that happens, rust will form on the inside of a wheel cylinder or caliper causing braking problems. Battery: if older than 5 years expect to replace if it is still functioning. Clean tight cable terminals are what is needed for the best electrical performance
    Now your ride may up on the periodic maintenance however there are now cosmetic needs that have likely been lacking.
    1. Wash the car and use LOTS of water. This may seem like a no brainer, and the ride has been sitting for a long time, flushing dirt and debris is the goal. Pay attention to areas that water builds up and should drain. Many vehicles are built with rubber drains that may be hardened or get plugged. Make sure the water drains away from the vehicle.
    2. Clean and condition the vinyl roof or convertible top if so equipped. Again flush with lots of water first to remove any dirt and debris.
    3. Clean rubber pieces. Weather strips are very expensive. If the weather strips are still usable, use a rubber conditioner for all existing weather strips & hoses that have not been replaced. Doors, deck lids, cowl and any outside gaskets like door handles, antenna base, deck lid lock gasket.
    4. Vacuum the interior. Again may seem like a no brainer and the vehicle has been sitting for a long time. The goal is to get the dirt out of the carpet and upholstery. Dirt will be an abrasive that cuts into the fabric.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
    Dominick 1 likes this.
  2. Soulwatcher

    Soulwatcher New Member

    Aug 23, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Detroit, Michigan
    You should probably add inspect the brake lines to that. Back in the late 1990's, I bought a 1985 Ford Thunderbird that had been sitting. And I got it road worthy again and I didn't pay too much attention to the car and I drove it to Florida from Michigan. And as soon as I got 2 blocks from my Dads house a brake line blew. If that would have happened in the mountains I wouldn't be here today.

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