After a hard year of racing, race cars are ready for a good looking over, a deep cleaning, and some much needed repair work that might not have been evident during the season. This is the time to tear down the car, remove all the mechanical systems, and do a thorough cleaning and inspection.

Let's face it, most racers love the "working on the car" part of racing as much as the actual racing. It represents most of the time spent racing anyhow. So, once the season has ended, it can be a lot of fun to go over the car and make sure it is put in perfect condition to start the new season. If done right, you can end up with a good-as-new car.

You should go through the car in a systematic way, overlooking nothing mechanical that may need some attention, from the replacement of worn parts to the repair of damage from hard racing. Start with the front and work toward the rear.

Preparing the Car For Inspection The first step in this process is to remove the engine, transmission, radiator, exhaust system, fuel tank, and any body parts that will be scrapped. You can proceed to clean the car once those components are out of the way.

We recommend using a portable power washer to remove all the dirt and oils on the frame and body parts. Choose a site outside the garage, where you won't make too much of a mess. Spray around all the tubing on the chassis and under the car, where you have run over someone else's oil. Try to get to the rubber tire pieces that have accumulated during the season.

This thorough cleaning is done not only for appearance purposes, but also to inspect the welds and other joints on the frame and rollcage for any fatigue or cracks. Broken welds, cracked frame members, and broken shock mounts account for lots of on-track failures, and this is a great opportunity to find those flaws.

Front Suspension You should remove all the control arms, steering assembly, spindles, and so on if that wasn't done before the cleaning. Then, lay the parts on the garage floor and carefully inspect each one for any signs of cracking, bending, or breaks at the welded seams.

Remove the Heim joints, ball joints, and idler arm assemblies (on a drag link system) to test for excess looseness and wear. Replace the joints that are worn. Check the steering box or rack for excess play and worn seals. This may be a good time to overhaul the steering or send it back to the manufacturer for a rebuild.

Inspect the engine mounts, front hoop tubing, upper control arm mounts, and any areas where fatigue might have caused cracking or breaking of the metal. Once the inspection is complete and all repairs have been made, it may be a good idea to paint the front clip. If you plan on doing a complete repaint of the car's frame, do the rest of the inspection first.

Shock Mounts While the front of the car is apart, do a close inspection of the shock mounts on the upper mounts as well as the lower control arm. This is one area of high stress that needs attention. If you see signs of cracking or breaking, rethink how the shock is mounted and do some re-engineering to better support the shock to reduce fatigue.

Some typical problems stem from the upper mount flexing on the tubing to which it is attached. Every stock car that uses coilover shocks should have a crossbrace that attaches to the upper shock mount, or as close as possible to it. This brace reduces the flexing and rotational twisting of the tubing where the shock is mounted.

Even with stock spring designs, the shock is still working hard. It is attached to the upper hoop bars. When mounting shocks on stock clip cars, the procedure used for coilover shocks should be employed.