Keep your classic car or truck looking and running like new with these handy care tips!
Owners of classic vehicles know their autos require great responsibility to maintain them. These vehicles require a higher level of TLC to keep them looking like new and running great. This means following a routine schedule for maintenance both inside and outside of the car and keeping an eye on the diagnostics of parts through average wear and tear. Vintage and classic automobiles are a lot of work, but if you commit to putting in the time and effort necessary, your dream car will continue to be a source of pride. These tips and tricks can help you keep your classic automobile in top shape, even during storage.
Change the Oil
Sure, we all know that this is Car Ownership 101. While you may be used to checking the levels and changing out the oil every 3000 miles or so, older classic and vintage models require a more committed routine. The reason is because you don't drive the car very often. When a car sits in the garage for extended periods of time you have to focus less on the number of miles the car has been driven and more on the number of days that oil has been in the engine. Oil can break down over time, losing its lubricity can lead to serious engine damage. So, a good rule of thumb is to change out your oil every six months, regardless of how far the car has been driven.
Also, because most antiques cars are not driven that often, especially during snowy winter weather, the engine, cooling system, power steering, transmission and drive axle should be examined for leaks. Starting your classic vehicle every week or two will lubricate the engine and transmission, and help keep the seals from hardening and avoid leaks.
Wash by Hand
You wouldn't dare take your classic car through any kind of automated car wash. Every car enthusiast knows that the best way to preserve the exterior of the vehicle is to wash it by hand. Most antique car owners prefer to do it themselves, but you can also hire a luxury detailer to get the job done. Just make sure you're very careful about the type of materials being used on the paint. Avoid abrasive materials in the cleaners you apply and use soft towels, mitts or sponges used to wash the surfaces.
A Proper Shine
Waxing the exterior is just as important as washing it. That's why you should wax the car every six months at a minimum. Be sure you apply your wax out of direct sunlight so it doesn't dry too quickly; dry wax is harder to buff out and you won't get the best results. Make sure the car is dry before waxing, and apply the thinnest coat possible over a small area at a time. Following these simple directions will ensure your car's exterior gets a proper shine and maintains the luster of the paint.
Check the Brakes
Brake pads and shoes wear out over time and when the car isn't driven very often it can be tough to keep track of when you need to replace them. So give them a pump every so often to make sure they're not worn down to the metal and they don't start squeaking when you pull up to a stop sign. This can cause damage and lead to safety problems. It's also important to check brake lines and cylinders or calipers for leaks as the vehicle ages. During storage when you run the engine every week or so, backing up and moving forward a short distance can help avoid brakes from seizing.
Store in a Safe Place
Storing your classic beauty in a temperature-regulated, enclosed space will prevent damage from the elements and pests alike. A car cover is also recommended, even when storing the vehicle inside. A car cover prevents dust and other debris from building up. Car covers come in several different materials; do a little research on what will best suit your needs before purchasing a cover.
Pests like mice and other rodents can do significant damage to your antique or classic vehicle, so take special precautions. Putting fabric softener sheets, lavender moth balls and Irish Spring soap throughout the interior of the vehicle will help keep the pests out. Laying softener sheets on the tires and putting moth balls in the cowling, engine compartment and trunk will also deter rodents from getting in your stored classic. Some owners also lay regular moth balls on the floor around their vehicle to keep pests away along with setting some traps. If you have ever had to restore a vehicle damaged by mice and searched nationwide for color-matching material, you will do everything possible to avoid the odor damage, cleanup and expensive repairs.
To learn more about car care tips, visit our friends at U.S. Mechanic.
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