Q – I am excited to get my car out and blast down I-75 with my Valentine One on highway mode. I am ready but I wonder if my Carrera is. I put it away with the tires pumped up, fresh oil, etc. Anything I should do as I get it out? Pete

A – There are a few components that need special attention on a stored car: One is the battery. I talk a lot about batteries so if you find this boring, skip to the next tip. But that pesky battery sure can cause a lot of problems. It sits all winter with nothing to do, nowhere to go, no exercise and then we expect it to rise to the occasion and crank the car. It’s like running a marathon without a warm up.

Batteries contain acid. Acid can eat holes in your body (and your car’s body too). Batteries output explosive hydrogen gas. Yes, the same gas that led to the demise of the Hindenburg, another fine German machine. Why is this important? Three reasons: 1) Your battery might have gotten low on charge over the winter. 2) You might need to jump it. 3) You don’t want to blow it.

When your battery is low, follow safe jumping processes. Connect the positive cables first, then the negative cable to the dead car last. This minimizes the likelihood of a dead short that might cause sparks (or fire). Verify the positive and negative terminals and don’t simply trust the colors of the cables. I have made this mistake a couple times and it is truly thrilling! If the battery doesn’t even have enough juice to turn the car over at a normal speed, don’t jump it, charge it. And if you charge it, remember the Hindenburg. Keep sparks away. The safest method of disconnecting a battery charger is to unplug it at the outlet first, then disconnect the battery.

Tires need some annual inspection too. Don’t forget to reduce the tire pressure to summer specs. (you did keep them pumped up over the winter didn’t you?) Check the pressure and notice the deviations between where you had inflated them versus where they are now. It is significant when you notice a deviation between tires. You need to keep your eye on that. Say your right rear tire lost 10 pounds and the other three lost 5. After your run down the freeway, check them again and recheck them in a week or so.   If you notice that right rear tire low again, you either have a nail in it or a rim leak.

When you take your car out on the freeway, does it shake? Perhaps it didn’t shake when you stored it, but it does now. This is not uncommon on stored cars. Some tires are notorious for flat spotting while other brands are not. So how long should it take to go away? On my car, with old, aged out rubber, it would take about two mils then it was gone. Other cars I have driven took longer and some, not all.

As you sat in your car, fantasizing about that drive, did you notice that funny odor?   Every spring a half dozen or so cars arrive with nests, chewed wiring, and that disgusting smell of rodents who have desecrated your Porsche with urine and worse.

I remember that Saturday in spring. As I washed my car I realized that the trunk was not shut all the way. I didn’t think much of it. I mopped up the water around the weather stripping and figured that it needed to be cleaned as well. That night, after the wash, I was justifiably proud of my fine work and took my darling wife to dinner. Her comment? “Gee honey the car looks great but WHAT IS THAT SMELL!!

On Sunday, I took the entire trunk apart, the heater hoses, defroster parts and vacuumed the nest out of the car. Multiple doses of carpet shampoo, power washing, and Fabreze made it all fresh and clean again. I spent so many hours on it I took pictures of the inside of my naked trunk and vowed, no one will ever see it this clean again. I had proof.

The moral of the story…if you have a minor odor problem, don’t get it wet! Water re-energizes dried residue and makes it new again. It is unbelievably nasty. Lift up the carpet, look for evidence in the spare tire area, look back in the engine compartment and vacuum it all out then set aside an afternoon for the champion cleaning job.

If you have a Cabrio, there is also an issue of sticking rubber seals were the convertible top rests on the windshield frame. Over the winter, they can stick so tightly that the top is literally glued tight to the frame. The drive mechanism can become overloaded and damaged. That first time of the season, after the automatic release does its job, give the top a gentle push up to help un-stick it.

When you own a Cabrio, having operated the top a few times, you intuitively know how the mechanism normally sounds during the different modes of release, top going down, and then fully seated in the boot. If it sounds like it is laboring in any mode, STOP pushing the button and investigate. Clients sometimes do not consider the power of their own intuition, making a minor problem much worse to the power of ten. – MC