I want to give my old car to my son, but it’s been garaged for 16 years. Where do I start to make sure the engine and parts are properly serviced?
Was the gas tank drained before the car was put in storage?
If not, then the tank will need to be dropped in order to completely drain the decomposed gasoline and clean the tank before even attempting to start the engine.
The next thing to pay attention to is that every rubber part on the car–tires, belts, and hoses–will need to be replaced. The car should not be driven–even around the block–on those old dry-rotted tires.
Additionally, the brake fluid has essentially turned into water after 16 years, so the brake system will need to be flushed before the car can be driven. It is also very possible that the brake system’s hydraulic lines and wheel cylinders will have to be replaced in order to make the car safe enough to drive it.
Once the tires have been replaced, then the hoses and belts can be replaced at the same time that you have the cooling system flushed of all of the rust that has accumulated in it. It is also very possible that the carburetor will need to be rebuilt or replaced in order to be able to start the engine and/or to have it run smoothly.
After those other tasks, then you can pay attention to more mundane things like changing the oil and the trans fluid.
All of what I described is going to cost…a lot.
Are you prepared to pay all of this cost, or is your son going to pay for it?
@VDCdriver pretty well summed it up. Is your son a ‘car guy’? Can he do some (all?) of the work? It’d be a neat project if he can, but it’ll take a while.
Not sure you are doing your son a favor by giving him a 45 year old car that has been in storage for 16 years! These were not great cars when they were new with all sorts of driveability problems. The gas mileage was poor as well.
For what he is going to have to spend to make a decent car out of this you could sell it as is and give him the cash to buy a low mileage Hyundai Accent or similar reliable econo-box.
I assume this’ll be a hobby car, right? Justin’s not a teenager, is he?
Check with your insurance agent, if it is a ss 396 you might be surprised at the insurance cost. I would say if he is not handy at car repairs, it may be more trouble than it is worth to him, there is a fine market for these cars, sell it and get something newer is an option.
I just saw an episode of Chasing Classic Cars where Wayne bought a Ferrari (Dino it think) that had been sitting in a tent for 15 years in someones back yard on top of stacks of pallets. After flatbedding it back to the garage they removes the plugs, put some Seafoam in the cylinders and the next day turned the engine by hand.
When they found out it wasn’t frozen they smelled the gas and said “well it still smells like gas”.
They put plugs and a battery in it and it fired right up and ran fine. Then they went about replacing the brake fluid and rubber parts.
All good advice above. The fuel system is what would be keeping me up at night. As long as no start attempts have yet been made, most of the crud is in the tank. If so, you are off to a good start at least. Take the necessary steps to make sure nobody attempts to start the car so it doesn’t wind up in the carb or engine. Probably the first thing I’d do before doing anything else is to replace the fuel filter. And buy a couple extra fuel filters, b/c you’ll want to replace the fuel filter a couple more times I expect as the fuel system is cleaned up.
The fuel system and brake hydraulics should all be gone through. Otherwise, those things will likely fail one after the other and it’s best to get them all in one fell swoop.
It’s not that expensive to do and certainly worth it on those era of Chevelles.
After that, fluid changes, belts, and tires.
Just curious about something. Is this an SS and is it heavily optioned with factory A/C, PS, and PB?
That makes it worth some serious money and a keeper besides.
One particular variant of this car back in the day was an SS with a 3 speed manual on the column.
That really puts it into rare air.
It’s pretty straightforward. If no one in the family is a mechanic, the cost to make the car reasonably reliable is prohibitive. Even if it starts and idles well, the costs are still excessive. And, you end up with a car that is expensive to operate (bad gas mileage) and essentially unsafe, with no modern design elements like air bags, crash protection design, roll over strength, good brakes with anti-lock, stability control, etc. No matter how much money you spend to fix the worn or aged elements, this car is not a safe conveyance as a daily driver, and is even more risky in the hands of a new driver.
The advice to research its value to a collector or amateur mechanic and then sell it and use the money to buy a newer car is the best.
Some comments assume it’s one of the ‘neat’ Chevelles. What if it’s one of these?
This reminds me of a story about a buddy of mine. He had $6,000 to spend on a truck. He needed a daily driver. His wife asked me to help him find one, as he was a known doofus.
We pulled into a used lot that had a few 10 year old pickups in his price range. I’m talking to the sales guy and I turn around and notice that my doofus pal is gone. I found him in the back of the lot looking at a 1970 Ford Grand Torino. It was semi-restored… by someone who didn’t do good work. It ran, it sounded cool, and the paint looked good. Note that I didn’t say it ran good.
He fell in love from the start. Mind you, we were 20 - 22 yrs old. The Torino was 32 or 33 yrs old.
He bought it right then and there. I warned him not to. I told him that, as a guy who was not at all mechanically inclined, he needed to steer clear of that beast. Needless to say, his wife was livid.
Less than 1 week later, he’s calling me begging for help. “It won’t go into gear!” The bushings on all the shifter linkage was either missing or dry rotted. I had to jerry-rig it into place with the closest thing I could find, which was Ford F-series clutch linkage bushings and zip-ties. That got him rolling again. The 8 mpg killed him. It had a 351 Cleveland (I think) with a 4 barrel Holley. That combined with the 4.10 gears and the 3 spd tranny made for a real guzzler. After a few other problems like windows not rolling up and windshield wipers not working, he parked it in his yard. About a year later, he sold it for around half what he paid for it.