Jim Smart
April 1, 2005
Nothing makes an engine happier than clean oil for that first spring firing. There tends to be caution with synthetic engine oil, but you couldn't do your engine a greater favor. Run Mobil 1 10W-30 or 10W-40 in your classic Mustang. Lower the viscosity to 5W-20 for your late-model. Motorcraft filters are original equipment in Fords and for good reason: They work.

We love to pamper our Mustangs. With great regularity, we roll them into the shade, wax and detail the exterior, wipe down the interior, check the fluids, and keep tire pressure in check. These are all important elements for keeping our Mustangs in good shape.

When they're put away for the winter, it's easy to forget they're out in the garage taking a long nap. As much as we think it's good for our Mustangs to sit, it's probably the worst thing we can do. When they sit all winter, the aging process accelerates. The longer they sit, the worse it becomes.

Before starting the engine, remove the distributor and run the oil pump to get the engine's oiling system primed, especially if the car has been sitting for a long time. This gets oil to the bearings and cylinder walls before you spin the engine.

Your Mustang's powertrain likes to be hot, with all of its parts and fluids in motion. The more you drive it, the happier it becomes. A good run down the interstate at 60 mph is the perfect environment. The engine gets good and hot, oil circulates, piston rings dance happily along the cylinder walls, seals stay flexible, valves and guides glide smoothly, transmission seals and clutches function nicely, and brake drums and rotors stay rust free.

So what should you do when your Mustang has been sleeping all winter? Before you even start it this spring, be sure to change the oil and filter. When you change the oil, fill the pan with Mobil 1 synthetic 10W-30 oil. If you have a low-mileage original that's never been apart, stick with conventional engine oil, preferably Castrol 10W-30 or 10W-40. This isn't a product endorsement in either case, and these companies do not advertise with us. They are recommended lubricants based on years of experience with both brands, approaching 1 million miles of use with Mobil 1 in all kinds of Fords. Castrol is another outstanding engine oil that has done a good job for us with great consistency. We've also experienced success with Motorcraft oil filters on Fords, both old and new. When you experience success, why change?

These are main and rod bearings that have been scored by the absence of lubrication on startup. Because bearing contact surfaces are aluminum, they score easily.

For that first spring startup, you want the engine's internals ready before spinning the starter. It's a good idea to pour a tablespoon of engine oil into each cylinder before starting. Then crank the engine with the starter with all spark plugs removed to coat the cylinder walls. This is probably a good time to consider a tune-up, with new plugs and an ignition kit. If you aren't concerned with originality, consider installing a PerTronix Ignitor II electronic ignition retrofit kit inside your Autolite or Motorcraft distributor. It is the single, greatest modification you can make that no one sees, and will improve performance and make cold starting a lot easier.

Give them a fighting chance with fresh oil and a good oiling-system priming before you start the engine.

What Happens When You Don't...
We stress proper spring prep because the stuff you don't see can hurt your engine. Scored bearings can result from just starting an engine without proper preparation after sitting idle over the winter. These bearings are scored (damaged) from being fired dry. When an engine sits for months without running, oil eventually leaves the bearings and cylinder walls. This is why we stress an oil and filter change, pouring a tablespoon of oil into each cylinder and priming the oiling system.

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