That darn groundhog was no help this year, but rest assured, spring is on its way. This means longer, warmer days, and excellent evenings for cruising. While the weather gets ready, you should too, so let’s look at some prep work you should do now to be ready for spring.
If your cruiser was put up for winter, there are a few steps to take before firing her up and heading off. First off is of course removing any covers you may have put on your vehicle last fall. Do a visual once-over to make sure the cover didn’t rub anything the wrong way, then properly store it for next winter.
Have a seat inside, and take note of any mildew smells. Sure, it won’t smell like fresh baked cookies since it’s been closed for a few months, and some stuffiness is to be expected, but check out anything funky, as it could be a sign of mold or rodents making a home in your ride.
To prep for firing, make sure the battery is good to go. Hopefully it was on a trickle charger, or at least disconnected, so take a moment and connect the terminals. Take a multimeter, set it for 15 volts DC, and test the voltage. It should read about 12.5 volts. While in the battery area, make sure all grounds are solid, and corrosion is minimal.
The gas tank should have been treated with fuel stabilizer, but that is primarily a concern for 90+ day rests. Generally, less than 90 days means you can probably turn the key and fire up, but a few gallons of fresh gas in the tank never hurt. If your cruiser has been out of commission for more than 4 months, some starting fluid might be needed to convince her to turn over. Keep in mind, a little goes a long way.
Once the engine is running, let it idle and warm up. Take note of any unusual sounds or smells. What you’re watching/listening for is any emissions or gaskets that may have gone bad during all those days of bitter cold. Once the engine reaches operating temperature, do just a couple of revs, just to around 2500 rpm, to make sure it sounds normal. Pay attention to any “rotten eggs” smells, as that is emissions related, and watch for gray smoke from the exhaust manifold area, as that is most likely a bad cylinder head gasket (or a header gasket, if you’ve gone that route). Keep the revs up for about a minute, then grab the multimeter again, and recheck the battery. If voltage is up, you’re all set. However, if voltage dropped, you may have a charging issue and it’s probably time to swap out the alternator.
With everything mechanically sound, it’s time for a quick function check. With the engine off, close the garage door and check all the lights and turn signals. The garage-door-down method allows you to check all brake lights and turn signals from the driver’s seat, but this can also be checked by a buddy. Also check the horn, as with all the texting drivers on the road, you will need it. Last, check the air pressure in the tires and make sure it is at the recommended PSI.
Now it’s just wash, wax, and shine to your heart’s content, and you will be ready to cruise.