If you’re here, there’s a chance you love classic cars. While we’re not a classic car dealer, we’ve seen our fair share of classic cars enter our shop.
Whether you’ve purchased your first classic car or are looking to start your collection, it’s important to understand the proper maintenance needed to ensure you are preserving your car’s value, appearance, and drivability.
Caring for classic models isn’t the same as looking after a brand-new vehicle. Older cars need quite a bit of love and care that isn’t required with newer vehicles. Of course, all this love and care is to protect its vintage appeal and avoid any corrosion of the original parts – but we’ll get more into that later.
We asked some of our shops’ classic car experts and they shared their 10 tips for classic car maintenance:
1. Check Your Fluids.
If you take just one tip away from this blog, this may be the most important one. Classic cars are still that – cars. It’s vital that you always have fluids in your car. Oil, water, and brake fluid keep your car ready to drive, and will prevent it from overheating.
When you take your hotrod for a Sunday drive, it’s imperative that you keep an eye on the gauges. The last thing you want is to push your car too hard, to the point it causes the engine to overheat or become damaged.
2. Keep it moving.
You may enjoy classic cars because of their vintage look – and sometimes you want to show them off! Be our guest!
In fact, one of the best things you can do for your car is drive it regularly– once per month is the recommended minimum. One of the biggest issues with old cars is that they’re not used regularly. If you leave your car in the garage for too long, its seals and rubber components can dry out and cause leaks. Driving your vehicle at least once per month can slow the aging process.
Collecting and storing classic cars is a great thing, but what fun are they if you can’t show them off? It’s important the car goes through the paces of normal driving. Ask any classic car owner, an evening drive cannot be beat – especially when you have the coolest car on the road.
3. Watch your brakes.
This is more of a safety tip for your classic car. When you take it out for a drive, pump your brakes. This will keep your brakes in-shape, and give you a heads-up if brake maintenance is needed.
In fact, you should bleed and replace the brake fluid in your vehicle at least once a year in order to maintain your classic car’s stopping power.
4. Store it properly.
When you’re not driving your car, what should you do with it?
Proper storage is extremely important when maintaining your classic car’s appearance. It prevents corrosion that decreases the car’s drivability and overall value.
Where you store your car is by far one of the most important things to consider prior to investing in a classic. In general, if you find yourself in someplace that has extreme weather–think very hot, cold, humid, or wet–it’s important to store your vehicle indoors. From direct sunlight absolutely destroying its paint job to humidity rusting various components, proper storage indoors is your best bet.
When deciding on a storage space indoors, it’s important to be sure the space is:
If you keep these four elements in mind, your classic car shouldn’t experience any problems indoors. Most classic car professionals recommend storing a classic car in a heated garage. It’s easy to maintain your car in a controlled temperature while protecting it from outside elements.
If you are left with no choice to store but outside, you should consider a few things. For one, you should avoid storing your car on a gravel or sand surface. This is a hotbed for moisture. Also make sure your surface has good drainage, you don’t want water pooling under your vehicle.
Additionally, invest in a good car covering. There are thousands of options available online.
5. Keep it original.
When preserving your car’s value, it’s important to do your best to keep it original. Modifications can be tempting, but often they are not worth the decreased value.
When you need to make repairs, it’s in your best interest to conduct research in efforts to obtain original stock parts for your model. Using modern parts in classic cars will decrease its value.
6. Clean your car often.
Don’t let dirt and dust build-up! You’ll want to keep your car as clean as possible year-round. An excess of dirt can cause a multitude of problems, such as chipping paint and rust. After you wash your vehicle, use a soft rag to dry it thoroughly. This helps remove any soap you may have missed and prevents watermarks.
To put it simply, the cleaner you keep the car, the longer it’ll last. And we’re not just talking about the exterior. If you treat the interior with the utmost respect and love, you’ll preserve the vinyl and cloth used in the cabin and sitting space. Vacuum regularly to prevent dampness from dirt build-up, as it can ultimately lead to the floor of your car rusting.
A note on salty roads: If you live someplace that regularly salts the road during the winter, it’s important that you completely rinse your tires after driving. One mere drive on a wet salty road will give your classic an ugly coating of surface rust on anything on the underside of your vehicle, including the suspension, exhaust, and frame. The more salt you let penetrate the nooks and crannies of your car, the more likely it is that rust will appear over time.
7. Treat rust as soon as you see it.
Speaking of rust, a lot of classic cars have minor rust spots. If left untreated, these rust spots will grow into much bigger eyesores for you and anyone admiring your possession. When you store your car, be sure to use a quality lubricant to treat these spots to prevent future corrosion.
8. Wax on!
When it comes to making your car look its absolute best, all while preserving its classic paint job, wax will do the trick. Detailers can revive your paint, but your paint job should be in good condition if you add a good wax after every wash and dry. If your paint is beginning to degrade, you may need to call on an expert for some help.
In general, it’s best to use waxes that are designed to last. Some hard waxes can last up to 6 months. It’s important to wax your car to protect it from various elements found in storage and outside.
9. Get new tires.
Most vintage cars don’t see the average 15,000 miles of use each year, so tires may not be on the top of your priority list. It’s important to ensure that your tires are safe. From tread wear, age, dry rot, flat spots, and UV exposure, any of these can render your classic car’s tires unsafe.
It’s important that your classic car’s tires are replaced every six years or so, regardless of how they may look. This helps keeps you safe whenever you take your car out for a cruise. A blowout can not only threaten your life, but it can also cause major damage to your vehicle.
10. Don’t ignore regular maintenance.
As tip one focuses on checking your fluids before every drive, it’s important that you don’t ignore your regular car maintenance. Just like any other car, proper and routine maintenance will not only help protect your investment, it will also protect your life.
Driving a classic car can be a lot of fun, but it also requires a bit more maintenance. If you need classic car maintenance and repair services, be sure to turn to your local auto experts. If you ever find your classic car giving you issues, or simply need to perform a full inspection of your system, give your local auto experts a call!