We don’t want to keep on going on about it, but the end of summer is fast approaching (‘already?’ we hear you cry). With autumn, of course, comes shorter days and longer nights – not to mention a significant drop in temperature. With this is mind, now is the time for classic car owners to start thinking about protecting their beloved vehicles.
Many of you will force your car to hibernate until warmer months arrive, but this can actually end up doing more damage than good. So, for the sake of your car’s wellbeing, take note of the following maintenance hints and tips.
Drive the car as much as possible
Although it may be tempting to store your car until the spring, you should actually try and drive it as much as possible. That isn’t to say you should drive around in blizzard conditions and heavy downpours; wait for a spot of crisp, dry weather and take your car out for a good run.
Non-use can lead to a whole number of issues: the battery may become flat, the car’s door seals may perish, and brake cylinders (not to mention a number of other components) may corrode or seize. Not only this, static tyres can develop flat spots which can cause the tyres to become weak, compromising how safe they are.
That said, it’s best to take your car out for longer runs, as many short trips (less than about 10 miles) can lead to premature engine wear if the engine oil does not get the opportunity to warm up to its optimal operating temperature.
Now it’s getting darker earlier, this is an ideal time to check that the car’s lighting system is all in working order. If any aren’t giving out the best light or have blown, you could consider upgrading the bulbs.
Is your car MoT exempt? If it is, it’s still recommended that you have it checked over at least once a year by a professional. There will be things you can do yourself, but sometimes it takes a professional to spot underlying issues with the vehicle, and it’s always good to have a second opinion.
Replace your tyres
Are your tyres over five years old? If they are, you should really consider getting a new set, even if there’s a decent amount of tread left on them. Old tyres with plenty of tread left may appear OK on the surface, but they could have a number of underlying issues, including flat spots, dry rot and UV damage.
Really don’t want to take your car out?
If you really don’t want drive your classic car in the cooler months are have decided to mothball it until the springtime, when the time comes to unearth it once again make sure you give it a thorough once-over. Your classic car and its components can deteriorate when you don’t use them for a while, even if you store them in dry, warm garages.
Before storing your car, ensure it has been given a thorough clean and wax, paying particular attention to the underside of the car to remove any salt. You may also want to take the opportunity to give it a protective coat of underseal and tend to any stone chips or rust patches. This can prevent any further rust from developing over the colder months.
If you are using a cover, make sure that your car is completely dry before placing it over the car. Any remaining moisture will be trapped and the cover will do more harm than good.
To maintain your battery charge through months of storage, using a “trickle charger” will keep the battery in good condition without wearing it out.
Finally, remember to keep your handbrake off. Leaving it applied means it could seize onto the brake discs and potentially warp them. Instead, keep the car in one place using wheel chocks.