Technical Advice from Mid-America Motorworks

January 18, 2005


No matter how well we store our faithful driving companions for the winter, it always pays to check a few crucial areas before embarking on that first spring cruise. These are the favorite winter hibernation haunts of the 'gremlins' that we have come to know over the past 25 years of Corvette enjoyment.

Electrical Batteries and electrical connections are a constant target for corrosion. Any build-up will reduce the amount of current flow and cause poor starting or battery drain. Inspect and clean battery terminals, connections to the starter and at the alternator. Humidity will cause corrosion and this must be wire-brushed or removed with steel wool or sandpaper. A light spray with Corrosion Block or an application of Silicone Grease to the connections will help prevent further problems. Hidden corrosion often occurs on the inner contacts of distributor caps, on points, and on spark plugs. This results in reduced performance, engine miss, and slow starts. These can be cleaned, but it is best to replace, re-gap, and adjust for optimum performance. Now is a good time to inspect the spark plug wires for cracks, burned spots, or contact with hot exhaust components. If one wire exhibits cracks or aging, it is a good bet that the balance will have internal problems that can sap performance. We recommend replacement with the proper length wires that allow for correct routing away from hot manifolds or headers.

We endorse the use of Fuel Fresh for any gasoline that is stored. Since our use of this additive, we have not had any fuel system problems when putting a stored vehicle back into service. It is a good idea to use up the stored fuel as soon as possible and to re-fill the tank with fresh gas. We generally add a bottle of Redline Injector/Carburetor Cleaner to the fresh fuel to clean out any deposits in the tank and fuel system. Be sure to check lines and clamps for leaks. The rubber lines are susceptible to aging and cracks. This is a good time to replace the fuel filter. We have often found these full of condensation as well as dirt and debris.

Moisture accumulates in the brake systems of stored vehicles, unless they contain Silicone Brake Fluid. Standard brake fluid will draw moisture, causing corrosion in the system. When the car is in use, heat generated by braking will drive out this moisture. In order to prevent serious and costly damage to the brake system, we recommend draining and replacing the brake fluid at least every two years. This routine will greatly extend the life of the master cylinder, lines, and calipers.

A few hours of prep time now will send those 'winter gremlins' packing and allow you more trouble-free cruising on the days ahead.

What makes a good Car Cover?

The ideal cover is strong, water resistant and "breathable". Unfortunately, no single material has all three features so different fabrics are used to make car covers:

Spunbond is the basic material. It gives strength, but not water resistance. A single layer Spunbond cover is a good, economical choice for vehicles stored indoors because moisture protection isn't as critical.

Meltbond offers better water resistance, but not as much strength, so Meltbond is usually combined with one or more layers of Spunbond fabric. Cars stored outside should have a multi-layer cover of Spunbond and Meltbond.

Film is water resistant and very "breathable". The highest quality covers include a Film layer.

A water resistant cover prevents water from reaching your car, but allows moisture to escape from the car. Never use a waterproof cover because it traps moisture under the cover, your car never dries under a waterproof cover. A cover that "breathes" allows water to evaporate quickly from your car.

The higher the cover "density" the better. The minimum acceptable density for a single layer of Spunbond is 85 grams per square meter.

For cars stored outside, the cover should also protect against UV radiation to prevent your finish and interior from fading.

Cool Fixes for Crazy Problems

Here are a few "fixes" that we have learned the hard way over the past 30 years.

Headlight motor turns on your 1963-67, but teeth won't always engage? Try pulling the motor out of the headlamp housing, rotate the motor shaft 180 degrees with the thumbwheel, and re-install. This should provide brand new gear teeth, as the motor rotates less than half-way when opening and closing the headlamps.

When installing the nuts on a new nose emblem, put some double stick tape in the socket to hold the nut and make sure the socket fits tight on the extension. It is almost impossible to fish these out of the nose if they fall off.

Sometimes well-worn shifters on earlier Corvettes get jammed in gear. This usually happens when you are out on the road and have no tools. Shut off the engine, make sure the car is level and will not roll, then try sliding under the driver's side as far as possible. If you can reach the shifter forks, pull or push both forks to the vertical position. This is the neutral position and should release the bind.

Poor radio reception? Try a new antenna cable. They can look fine from the outside, but be corroded internally from water running down the antenna and into the cable.

1953-74 Corvette turns over and tries to start, but quits as soon as you release the key from the start position. It may be the ceramic resistor block on the firewall near the master cylinder. Try replacing this resistor. I have had this happen several times.

Stuck seat belt bolts that go into the floor pan? Be sure to soak them with penetrating oil for several days. Then, try an Allen wrench socket on an air wrench. Turn the pressure way down. You want the vibrations to literally "shake" the bolt loose. Take your time and most bolts will come out-

Check the gas neck boot drain often. This can clog, and rain or a car wash can quickly back up into the gas tank. This is not good for the engine or tank!

Add a heavy duty lug wrench to your jack compartment tool kit. The factory wrench is not very strong and may break when you really need it. Be sure to check that the wrench is the proper size, too.

Without warning - no headlights! Try the firewall plug just in front of the fuse box. This can loosen over time and cut the current to the headlamps. Clean off the corrosion and press it firmly back into place.


No matter how mad you get at your car, resist the urge to sell it! Don't join the ranks of the "Sure wish I had my (insert your year here) back! Let's keep these great cars on the road where they belong!