Classic Car Maintenance Tips

When the sun is shining during the summer in Coeur d’Alene, many enthusiasts bring their classic cars out of storage for a warm-weather cruise. Like any other vehicle, classic cars require regular maintenance to keep them safe and reliable. They often sit for long periods during the winter without being driven or even started. While many people think the primary cause of car problems comes from frequent driving and high miles, there are a variety of issues that can arise when a vehicle is allowed to sit for a long time without maintenance.

blue mercury

For a lot of classic car owners, the appearance of their vehicle matters equally as much as its functionality. Keeping the exterior of your car in pristine, show-ready condition requires time and effort beyond the exterior care that goes into a daily driver.

At Lake City Auto Care, we love seeing our customer’s classic cars. Our technicians know how to care for them too. Read on to learn more tips about classic car maintenance and ensure your ride is ready for the road this summer!

Classic car mechanical maintenance

Classic cars are no different than your daily driver when it comes to mechanical maintenance. While they may be driven less, they still encounter the same harsh road conditions, weather, and wear and tear as any other car. When you take your classic out of storage, it’s important to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.

rat rod engine

Change the oil

Oil changes are the most basic and essential service you can perform on your classic car. You might be thinking, “I drive my classic only a couple of thousand miles per year, that is not even close to a normal oil change interval, why should I change it yearly?”. Well, despite low mileage, the oil in your engine still sits in the crankcase year-round. The debris generated during the summer when you drive can cause the oil to break down when it sits, making it less effective at lubricating the moving components in your engine. With so much sitting and limited driving, changing your oil once when you pull your car out of storage and again when you are putting it away is the best way to preserve your engine.

Flush your coolant

Flushing the coolant in your classic car will prevent corrosion and debris deposits in your cooling system. An annual coolant flush will ensure your cooling system is operating as it should, preventing overheating and engine damage.

Check your tires, and keep track of their age

This one gets overlooked. Most classic cars will see fewer than 2000 miles per year, which means it can take 20 or more years in some cases to get reach the mileage limit on a set of tires. Tires do not last forever, and even if they still have sufficient tread depth they will become less and less safe as they age. Sitting for months on end mounted on your car will accelerate the aging process. Most manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years regardless of mileage. Remember, even if your tires look completely fine, if they are old, they are unsafe.

Service the brakes

Like any other car, having functioning brakes is essential. Just because your classic car is older and isn’t driven much doesn’t mean you should neglect brake work. A yearly brake flush will keep air bubbles and debris out of your brake lines. Remember to have a technician check the life of your brake pads as well to prevent damage to the rotors.

Make sure your ball joints are in good shape

Ball joints are a critical suspension component on both modern and classic cars. A a metallic sound when going over bumps can indicate failure of this component. Ball joint care varies depending on the age of your classic car. Vehicles made before around 1970 utilized grease fittings, which allowed owners to grease their ball joints every year. Later on, manufacturers began using sealed ball joints with a lifetime lubricant. This modern style of the ball joint is susceptible to failure if the dirt and debris enter the joint via a rip in the rubber boot.

Be sure to check for a rip in the ball joint boot if your car is from the 1970s or newer. If you have an older car, be sure to grease the ball joints every year to keep them protected.

Perform a lube job on other components

The lube job is a service that has gone almost entirely by the wayside. Older cars utilized grease (or zerk) fittings on components like u-joints and driveshafts. These grease fittings allowed fresh lubricant to be added to the component, forcing out moisture and other debris that build up over time. This job can be difficult but performing it regularly can save you from having to replace hard-to-come-by older car parts.

Service the differential and transmission

A yearly transmission fluid change will keep your car shifting well. An automatic transmission fluid change provides the opportunity to check for metal debris in the transmission. If your classic car has a manual, changing the gear oil in the transmission will keep your shifts smooth.

Changing your differential fluid regularly will preserve the moving parts in your rear end and allow you to check for any indications of wear or failure.

Charge the Battery

Don’t be left stranded by a dead battery. It’s easy to make sure your battery is charged and ready for a summer of driving.

Keep your classic car clean

After sitting all winter long, remember to clean your vehicle’s exterior to keep it looking good and protected from the elements.

– Wash and apply a quality auto wax to the exterior of your car. Wax not only makes your car look great; it also protects the paint from the elements when you are driving.

– Clean the undercarriage after you drive to remove salt and other corrosive road debris that can wreak havoc on unprotected metal.

– When you clean your car, take time to check for rust damage that may be starting. Catching it early can help you preserve your car.

brown classic mustang

Bring your classic car to Lake City Auto Care! 

Whether you need maintenance or repair, our team of skilled technicians is ready to service your classic vehicle. Know your ride will be in good hands when you hand us the keys. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

(208)-856-8336 Appointments