Keeping a Classic Car in Good Shape

By Samantha Lemna  | 
March 9, 2016

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Owning a collector or classic car is pretty awesome. Whether you enjoy rebuilding or cruising (or both!), it's like owning a small piece of history. But like any antique, it’s essential to take good care of your vehicle in order to preserve the car’s beauty and functionality. We have four basic steps to help your hobby and investment last a lifetime.

Step 1 - Keep it Covered

Whether you drive it every day or just once a season, your classic car's worst enemy is the weather. But there’s a simple solution: cover your car when you're not driving it. Whether you're parking the car in an insulated garage or storing it outside with a fitted, UV coated cover, you will be protecting it from the elements that can chip away at its shine, beauty, and overall value.

Step 2 - Keep it Clean

A clean car is important. Not only does keeping your classic car clean maintain the integrity of your car’s exterior and interior, but it can also help avoid damage caused by dirt buildup. Furthermore, it makes it easier to notice potential wear-and-tear problems. Just make sure that you rinse and dry your car thoroughly after a good wash in order to remove residual soap scum that can actually attract more grit and grime if left on the car. If you’re storing your car for a prolonged period of time, consider getting it professionally detailed just before it’s stored.

Step 3 - Storage and Preparation Matter

Storing your vehicle properly is important, whether it's simply being parked between drives or put away for winter. 

The ideal storage site should have a concrete floor, as these are better at keeping moisture away. If you don’t have that option, consider tarping the ground beneath your car or place plywood underneath all four tires. Use tire chocks and leave the handbrake off when you park to prevent seizing cables.

Don’t store your car with an empty fuel tank. Fill it with the appropriate fuel and then add a fuel stabilizer. Be sure to run the vehicle as this helps circulate the stabilizer throughout the engine.

To help prevent harmful contaminants from sitting and leaching into your engine, keep the oil clean and topped up. An oil and filter change before the vehicle goes into storage is an excellent idea.

Unhook the car’s battery and keep it on a trickle or intelligent charger. Don't forget to top up the rest of your car's fluids and close the window. 

Keep in mind, if you store your car off-site, make sure you tell your insurance broker because some companies require this information. Your broker will also be able to advise you about classic car insurance, including discounts for low-use and low-mileage vehicles. This can help save you money on your premiums even if your classic car is very valuable.

Step 4 - Pre- and Post-Drive Care

If your classic car has been stored for some time, it's always a good idea to take some time to prepare her for her return to the road. The first and most important thing to do is charge the car's battery for at least 24 hours. While the battery is charging, you can uncover your vehicle and do a visual inspection. Look for evidence of vermin infestation or insect damage, as well as possible damage to paint, tires or cables. You should also check the fluids: brakes, oil, and coolant. When the car’s battery is fully charged, hook it up (using the positive cable first) and check the car’s lights and brake pedals to make sure everything is working. Now, take it for a slow drive. After 10-30 minutes, return to your home or storage site and inspect the car for leaks or fluid seepage. If everything looks good, consider taking your car for a nice soapy soak at the local carwash.

If your car's been more regularly used, just do a general double check on fluid levels and give it a visual inspection before and after your drive. Though a wash never hurts!

Keep in mind that even with all this ongoing maintenance, it’s a good idea to have your car professionally checked and serviced at least once every 12 months.

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