Baby Love: A Guide To Classic Car Maintenance

January 20, 2014

Classic Car Maintenance – The Basics – Doing it All for My Baby

Classic cars, like classic tunes, hold a special place in our hearts. While most car owners care about their vehicles and make routine maintenance a priority, the relationship between classic car owners and their cars is more of a love affair than a simple matter of ownership.  Classic car owners are totally obsessed with keeping their baby lookin’ good and runnin’ smooth. Time spent on care and maintenance, therefore, is truly a labor of love.   

Classic car maintenance involves more than the usual trips to the car wash, regular oil and filter changes, and periodic tire rotations that keep our modern vehicles in running order. A classic car requires special care to keep her in top condition. Here are five classic car maintenance tips that will keep your baby happy, healthy, and ready to roll.

Bathe her regularly. Wash her with mild soap and a soft cloth or sponge to keep her finish grime free. Dry her with a chamois or cotton towel to prevent water spot damage. Follow up with a coat of wax and a good buffing to protect her finish. Finally, shine up her jewelry with a product specifically designed to clean and protect chrome.

Change her frequently. Oil filters were not common on the earliest models, so changing the oil every 1,000 miles is recommended to prevent sludge buildup. For classic cars from the late 1930’s through the 1950’s, every 2,000 miles is usually enough. It’s a good idea to drive your classic car before you drain the oil. This will stir up any sediment that has settled and allow it to drain out with the oil. It is also important to use a Zinc additive with every oil change to provide enough lubrication for your classic car engine. For classic cars with oil filters, change the filters every other oil change or at least twice a year. Also regularly check fluid levels in the transmission and differential.

Keep her cool. Check coolant levels and properly maintain the cooling system. Stay tuned for more on this important issue.

Show her off. As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.” Take your classic car out for a drive as often as possible to keep her moving parts moving in top form.

Bed her properly.  Keep her indoors or covered when not in use to prevent rust and other weather-related damage. If you plan to store her for a long period of time, raise her up on blocks, drain her fluids and cover her with a protective cover.

Classic Car Maintenance – Keeping Her Cool – Baby’s on Fire

There is a common myth that implies that older cars are naturally prone to overheating and will eventually leave their steaming hot drivers cooling their heels on the side of the road. This is not necessarily true. These old girls were well endowed with adequate cooling systems when they rolled off the assembly line, but years of neglect have taken their toll. Like aging bodies, belts and hoses have cracked, radiators and engine blocks have developed leaks, and fans are not as efficient as they used to be. If your baby tends to run a bit of a fever, it’s time to do some testing and find a way to cool her down. 

Check belts and hoses for wear and tear. As a rule, belts and hoses should be checked at every oil change and replaced every 5 years regardless of mileage.

Inspect the radiator, freeze plugs, head gasket and heater core for leaks. Repair small radiator leaks with cold or hot welds rather than sealants that may impede water flow. Replace leaking plugs and gaskets.

Replace the thermostat if overheating occurs when the rest of the cooling system is functioning properly.

Check the timing and adjust the carburetor. While not actually a part of the cooling system, improper adjustment of either or both of these can lead to overheating.

Classic Car Maintenance –Driver’s Seat To Rumble Seat – Take Good Care of My Baby

Inner beauty is as important as outer appearance when it comes to classic car maintenance. Keeping your baby’s interior clean and supple will significantly improve its durability. Begin by examining the quality and integrity of the leather to determine whether to restore or replace it. Remove the seats and other leather appointments, if necessary, for ease of access. Vacuum the seats, paying special attention to the seams. Using a soft cloth or damp sponge, apply leather cleaner in a circular motion to remove surface dirt. For difficult grime, use a soft bristle brush. Remove any cleaner residue, gently wipe the area with a mild solvent like isopropyl alcohol, and allow to dry thoroughly. If you are dyeing the leather, remove minor imperfections by lightly sanding with fine grit sand paper and follow with a final cleaning. After dyeing, wait 24 hours then finish with a high quality leather conditioner.

If you are a hands-on classic car buff, a little time and elbow grease will help your baby come back to her former glory. If not, give Tx Classic Cars a call. We’ve been restoring and maintaining classic cars for over 25 years and will gladly help you keep your classic car a pretty baby.

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