Storage of classic cars is a challenge for vintage car lovers. The automobiles designed to serve in a bygone era are difficult to fathom, leave alone looking after its maintenance in today’s day and time.
However, adoption of some measures will go a long way in keeping the machine fighting fit. Here are the ten tips for the maintenance of classic cars.
1. Make sure your gas tank is full. It will reduce the amount of water that can be absorbed by the gasoline and slows down the rate at which it turns to varnish. Use and additive and make sure it’s well mixed and run the car for a while to ensure that it seeps into the entire fuel system.
2. Freezing temperatures naturally warrant use of antifreeze. But even if it’s not freezing, put it in. Many of the newer ‘coolants’ have excellent corrosion inhibitors that will help protect and lubricate your cooling system. A 50/50 antifreeze/water mix is fine. Again, make sure to run the car so it’s mixed in the entire system.
3. Change the engine oil! Dirty oil is contaminated with acids and water that can cause premature bearing failure and rust inside the engine. If the car is unattended for a prolonged period of time, remove the spark plugs and liberally squirt some form of ‘upper-cylinder lubricant’ into the cylinders before replacing the plugs. This will help stop the piston rings from rusting to the cylinder walls.
4. Make sure the brake and clutch master cylinders are full of brake fluid. Brake fluid can absorb water very quickly. By reducing the exposed surface area of the fluid, the water absorption can be reduced. If you can, bleed the brake and clutch systems. It is recommended that you do this on an annual basis anyway, to purge the system of old and possibly contaminated brake fluid.
5. To avoid rust in the engine area, use a lubricant spray such as WD40 to coat all exposed metal surfaces. The volatile carrier in the WD40 will soon evaporate leaving a protective film on the hose clamps, coils, carb bodies, etc.
6. Wash the entire car and apply a good wax. Don’t forget to clean the inside. Do this early in the day to give it plenty of time to thoroughly dry before putting it in storage.
7. If you have a convertible top, leave it up and the windows and vents closed. A convertible top can develop nasty creases when folded for long periods of time, especially in cold climates. Treat Vinyl tops with Silicone or similar substance. Keeping the windows and vents closed prevents small creatures from entering the car. But buy some desiccant sacs from a storage supply house, ‘Dry Pac’ for example, and place them inside the car on the floors. This will keep moisture from damaging the interior if the weather is damp or humid.
8. Ensure that the boot is clean and dry, the boot seal is not always positive and some moisture can collect and condense in the inner fenders and floor. Air it out well for a day or two, then place a desiccant sac in here too before closing it up.
9. Finally, take the car on a good 30-minute run. This will evaporate all the moisture in the exhaust and in the engine. Then park the car with the hand brake off and either ‘chock’ the wheels or leave it in gear if necessary. Over inflating the tyres can help guard against flat spots. Disconnect the battery.
10. The best thing to do for a stored car is to visit it once a month and it take out for a short drive. This is bound to keep everything in good shape, preventing things from getting corroded and seals drying out. At the very least, have someone start it up periodically. If you are going to cover it, use a proper cloth car cover, not a plastic one. If you find the concrete floor in your storage unit gets damp or ‘sweats’ , use cat litter, or lay plastic beneath the car to prevent the condensation from reaching your floor pans.