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Classic Car Care Tips and Tricks
Owners of classic vehicles know their autos require diligent maintenance. These vehicles require a higher level of TLC to keep them looking like new and running at their best. This means not only following a routine maintenance schedule for both the interior and exterior of the vehicle, but also keeping an eye on the vehicle’s diagnostics. Keep your classic car or truck looking and running like new with these go-to care tips:
Change the Oil
Changing the oil is a standard part of car ownership; however, older classic and vintage models require a more committed routine. Why? Because the car is driven infrequently, you have to focus less on the number of miles the car has been driven and more on the number of days that the oil has been in the engine. Oil can break down over time, losing its lubricity and leading to serious engine damage. So, it’s a good idea to change out your oil every six months—regardless of how far the car has been driven.
Furthermore, during winter months when your vehicle is subjected to potentially freezing temperatures, 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, helping to keep the seals from hardening and leaking.
Wash by Hand
Every car enthusiast knows that the best way to preserve the exterior of your 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 substances being used on the paint. Avoid abrasive ingredients in the cleaners you apply and use soft towels, mitts, or sponges used to clean surfaces.
Wax On, Wax Off
Waxing the exterior of your vehicle is just as important as washing it. That’s why you should wax the car every six months at a minimum. Apply the wax out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t dry too quickly. Why? 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.
Check the Brakes
Brake pads and shoes wear out over time; when the car isn’t driven very often it can be tough to keep track of when you need to replace them. Give them a pump every so often to make sure they’re not worn down to the metal and they don’t start squeaking. Wear and tear 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 car in a temperature-regulated, enclosed space will prevent damage from the elements and pests. 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 a variety of materials; do a little research on which one will best suit your needs.
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 mothballs and Irish Spring soap throughout the interior of the vehicle will help keep the pests out. Laying softener sheets on the tires and putting mothballs in the cowling, engine compartment and trunk will also deter rodents from getting in your stored classic. Some owners also lay traditional mothballs on the floor around their vehicle to keep pests away.
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