How to keep older cars running for longer and looking their best
Whether your classic car is a 1950’s vintage VW you display at shows, or a 2007 Ford Fiesta given to you when you passed your test last month, caring for an older car can require a little more thought and planning than one straight off the forecourt.
With 32% of car-owning Brits owning a vehicle registered before 2010*, and insurers classifying a classic car as a vehicle over 20 years old, we have put together five essential tips for taking care of an older car.
Protect Against Winter
If your classic car is more valuable or rare and you want to keep it in pristine condition, you might want to hibernate it in storage over winter, in order to protect it from the harsher elements.
If however, you use your classic car often and just want to ensure it’s protected when you’re not driving it, here’s a few things to consider:
Park in a damp-free environment
If parking in a garage overnight, ensure it’s free from humidity and damp as this can corrode paintwork and cause mould. To be extra sure, use a heater or dehumidifier to keep the area dry.
Check fluid and fuel levels
Keep your tank as full as possible to prevent condensation from forming and causing mould. Check engine fluids such as coolant, to prevent the engine from freezing in low temperatures.
Use a car cover
Cover your car with a breathable, tailored car cover to protect it from sunlight which can cause the paintwork to fade.
Clean on a Regular Basis
A weekly wash can prevent grime from building up and destroying glossy paintwork, but it’s important the wash is conducted carefully to ensure no damage is caused during the process.
To help with this, always use a sheepskin or cotton chenille mitt as these are much gentler on the car’s surface and easier to get into the smaller nooks and crannies compared to other materials. When it comes to the soap used, stick to car soaps over dish soap as these will enhance the shine of your car.
Tyres tend to hold on to the most grease build up, as well as brake shavings and mud which can all cause damage to the car if dragged to other areas, so be sure to clean these thoroughly at the end of the wash.
Rinse with free-flowing water before drying with a soft leather chamois or soft microfibre towel and finish with a good quality wax.
Protect the Interior
It can be easy for an older car to become damaged from basic wear and tear, especially if it has not been cared for by its previous owners. Protect the interior by caring for it effectively and your classic car will go the distance in terms of appearance and quality.
If your car sports leather or coated fabrics, wipe dust away with a dry cloth regularly and for a deeper clean, use a damp cloth and gentle soap to rub the fabric down. Always soak up any leftover moisture with a dry cloth afterwards.
For other fabric seats, be sure to vacuum the material to prevent dust accumulation and never use harsh chemicals or household laundry soaps as these can cause discoloration. When getting out a stain, detergents and solvents can be used to get the mark out, but be careful to not use too much water as moisture can lead to damp and musty odours.
Chrome is a common addition to classic car interiors and it’s a material that needs to be cared for well. Polish these accents with aluminium oxide and a gentle towel to remove any micro-grains.
Keep an Eye on the Brakes
For those driving a car ten years old or more, keeping the brakes in good condition is a vital part of classic car upkeep. Not only is it an important safety feature but maintaining the brakes will also help your car live and run for longer.
After purchasing an older car, bleed your brakes. If the brake fluid runs a clear amber shade, it’s likely the brake system has recently undergone work and is well-maintained. This means you should be good to trust MOTs and services to pick up on any brake issues going forward. However, if the liquid is a dark black fluid containing rubber and rust, you’ll need completely new brakes and rubber brake lines.
To keep your brake system fresh, replace the brake fluid every two years. This should keep your old car running along smoothly and safely for even longer.
Replace Rubber and Filters
While most people remember to check and change their oil and oil filters regularly, other filters and fluids can easily be forgotten. Be sure to check air filters, transmission fluids and others around the car when you go to change your oil and replace any that are necessary as soon as possible.
Rubber seals can become cracked over time, so it’s important to check these and replace in order to prevent leaks and keep the heat in on a cold day.
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