Dear Ask a Mechanic,
Last year I bought my first-ever summer toy, a fully documented, low-mileage and pampered 2015 Jaguar F-Type R, which has been parked safely inside my attached garage all winter. Spring is finally here, and I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. Is there anything special that I should do, or can I just back it out and drive it? – Itching to drive
There are varying schools of thought about what steps should be taken prior to returning a stored car to the road. At one extreme, you have those that believe you should disable the fuel system and crank it over to build oil pressure before allowing the engine to start. On the other side, those that recommend you just make sure the tires aren’t flat and start it up. I’m a tad less obsessive than the first group, but I do believe you need show some care.
When it comes to my sports car, my fall preparations included adding a fuel stabilizer, filling the tank with ethanol-free premium gas and connecting a battery tender to keep it maintained. As a result, in the spring I can basically set my tire pressure, eyeball the oil and coolant levels, and proceed to burn that tank of gas (driving moderately until I’ve refilled it with fresh fuel).
What additional steps you’ll want to take depend on your Jag’s maintenance history, what storage preparations were done in the fall and whether it was run during the winter.
If it was started and idled numerous times throughout the winter, you may have inadvertently contaminated the oil with moisture and fuel. Unfortunately, the lack of a dipstick makes checking the condition of the oil in your F-Type challenging, so consider replacing the oil if it wasn’t done last fall.
The other fluid levels found under the hood should be checked.
You should also inspect the age, condition and pressure of the tires. Why age? Often, well cared for and low-mileage vehicles are still using their original tires. If they are seven or more years old, replacement is probably warranted. If you’re not sure when they were made, the last four digits in the tires’ DOT serial number will tell you (for example, 1015 would mean it was made during the tenth week of 2015).
If a fuel stabilizer wasn’t used in the fall, I’d recommend going for a nice, leisurely drive to use up at least half a tank of gas before adding more. Frustrating as that might sound, this period of “tame” use will give you an opportunity to make sure all is well. And remember, summer tires don’t grip as well during cool spring temperatures.
Ask a Mechanic is written by Brian Early, a Red Seal-certified automotive technician. You can send your questions to email@example.com. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN...