How to keep classic cars in top condition – three simple tips
September 22, 2017
Classic cars require care and attention so that they may be preserved for future generations, and so that they can be admired fully for what they truly are; artefacts of history with character and soul.
If you have a classic car of your own (perhaps you have a garage of classic cars), preservation is probably of the utmost importance to you. We recently helped a classic car collector make his garage a safer environment for his classic cars, and we got talking about other methods of preservation anybody can try.
In this article, we’ll discuss dehumidification for classic cars and two other methods of preservation to help you keep yours in tip top condition.
- Invest in a dehumidification system
We were recently contacted by a collector of classic cars who wanted a solution for removing moisture from the air of his garage to prevent rust.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that rust is the biggest threat any classic car faces now and always. Theft and mechanical issues don’t even come close.
Rust, corrosion, iron oxide, oxidation… whatever you want to call it, rust can be the kiss of death for a classic car. Rust occurs when iron or an alloy that contains iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture over time. Rust is iron oxide, and as an oxide, iron is weaker than it is as a metal which presents a serious problem if it finds its way to a chassis or bodywork.
Due to this, it makes sense to invest in a dehumidification system.
Dehumidification is simply the process of removing moisture from the air. By removing moisture, you are taking away one of the things that causes rust to form. However, you don’t want to remove too much moisture, because drying out the atmosphere too much can cause wood, leather, rubber and other natural or synthetic materials to perish.
Choosing the right dehumidifier is of the utmost importance. At Dehum, we specialise in dehumidification and humidity control, having recently installed a dehumidification system for a client with a fleet of classic cars. Contact us today to discuss your requirements.
- Keep the bodywork and paintwork pristine
It’s always important to wash classic cars regularly, because even dust from the road can do permanent damage to the paintwork if it’s left. Washing your car once a week will keep the paintwork looking pristine and shiny, and make sure your car holds its value.
It’s essential to have the right tools for the job when you’re washing a classic car. You should always use professional car washing soap – these foam well and are specially formulated to be gentle on car paint. The harsh chemicals found in household detergents will make your paintwork look dull and can also remove protective polish from the surface, so they’re completely unsuitable for use on cars.
Contrary to popular belief, a sponge is not something that should ever be used to wash a classic car. A mitt made of lambswool or microfiber is a much gentler option, as it won’t scratch the paintwork.
You’ll also need two buckets – one for your car soap solution and the other filled with clean water, so you can rinse your wash mitt at intervals to make sure you’re not spreading dirt over the car.
Before you start washing, rinse the car all over with a hose to remove as much surface dirt as possible. Then wash gently, starting at the top of the car and working down, so dirty water isn’t running over areas you’ve already cleaned. Do the wheels last – these are the dirtiest parts of your car and will contaminate the water with all kinds of substances including oil and brake shavings.
Rinse with a hose, taking care to remove all traces of soap, and dry with a leather chamois or soft microfiber cloth that won’t scratch the paintwork.
If you want to wax your car – and this is a good idea as it will protect your paintwork – choose a wax polish suitable for the type of paint on your car, then buff to a shine using a dry lint-free cloth.
- Perform regular maintenance to keep the mechanicals sound
Classic cars are so much more than just for show – if you really want to enjoy them to the max, you need to keep them in good running order, and that involves regular maintenance. Even if you’re not an expert mechanic, there are some straightforward tasks that will help to keep your car healthy and roadworthy.
You should always check your oil levels before driving your classic car. This will not only keep you safer, it will also enable you to identify any leaks quickly – the worse problems get, the more expensive they become to fix. You should also check all your lights are working before each drive, and keep an eye on the pressure and condition of your tyres. These steps may sound fundamental, but as classic cars are not usually driven every day it can be easy to overlook the basics.
Once every quarter, or more regularly if you feel your car needs it, remember to lubricate all your driveline components to keep everything running smoothly.
You will need to drain and replace your brake fluid at least once a year – this is because it can gather moisture. If moisture levels are allowed to get too high, your brakes can fail. Another annual task is to flush out the coolant so your cooling system is not at risk of corrosion.
Regular servicing is essential for classic cars, to identify any problems you may have missed. This will keep your car on the road for a lot longer.
Finally, remember to drive it regularly! Cars were built to be driven, and their condition can deteriorate rapidly if they’re left locked in a garage. Take your classic car out for a spin at least once a month, or more often if possible – this keeps your car healthy as well as ensuring you get the maximum enjoyment from it.