A lot of Miatas take a break in the winter and don’t get driven too much, other than a little periodic exercise. When classic car owners bring their ancient chariots out of hibernation, they have a check-list of a morning's work to run through to ensure they are ready for in-season motoring. Miatas need a lot less attention than vintage cars, but do things right and copy this and post on your own garage wall, so you can do your own pre-flight inspection to start the season:
1. As you open the driver’s door to pop the hood, toot the horn and listen to the sound. If it is loud, you’ve probably got enough battery power to start the engine. If it makes only a little buzzy sound, charge your battery. Check the oil dipstick and coolant level, (in the radiator, not just the overflow tank.) If OK, start and warm up the engine. It is prudent to start with the transmission in neutral, even if your foot is on the clutch, just in case the clutch has chosen to stick in the "engaged" position. Then the starter motor won't catapult you into the garage wall or out the door. Please don't ask how we learned that. Most cars' clutches never bind up, but a few do develop a bad habit of sticking. When everything is warm and flowing properly go change the oil and filter. Grease anything that needs it. Check all the fluids and top-up or replace as necessary.
2. Pump up the tires (all five of them, if you have a spare) to the correct pressure.
3. Check the car's logbook (you do keep one, don't you?) for how long it's been since you replaced the "replaceable" service items, such as coolant, belts, hoses, battery, fuel filter, air filter, brake fluid, tune-up parts, wiper blades, etc., and check and care for them as necessary. Time, not mileage, is a better indicator of replacement need on a car that isn't driven much.
4. Put this year's tab(s) on the license plate(s) and put the current registration and insurance card -- whatever may be applicable in your locality, of course -- in the glove compartment. This is also a good time to check that any equipment you normally carry in the car is still on board. Yeah, the Miata has just been sitting there all winter, but sometimes the mice in the garage borrow a tire pressure gauge or a flashlight or such out of the car to check something else and they forget to put it back.
5. Do a walk-around tech inspection, and check the operation of all lights, signals, horn, accessories, etc.
6. Clean and detail the whole car inside and out. Even under a cover in a clean garage, it is possible for some cars to attract a lot of dust, the tires will start to get dull, and so forth. You might even find the dreaded cobwebs underneath.
7. Consider putting a good coat of Rain-X (or similar water-repellant product) on the windshield. That will avoid helplessness if the car gets caught in a shower and the wipers decide to go on strike miles from any service place. It’s good on side glass and rear glass (not plastic) too.
8. Take about a 15-mile test drive around the neighborhood to check that all the in-motion machinery is working OK. Adjust or repair as necessary when you get home. On the way home, fill the gas tank to dilute the musty old fuel that's been in there since last fall.
9. Assemble and refresh all the spectating and participating equipment you take to your choice of motorsports events (road runs, races, rallies, car shows, cruise-ins, whatever) in one place so you have it ready-to-go for this season.
What?!?!? All those items and this author didn't check the _______________?
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