Top Tips for Looking After Your Classic Car in Summer

Coolant System

Keeping your classic car cool is almost as important as keeping yourself cool! Check the level & mix of coolant system in your car. The overflow and radiator tank should be full and a coolant tester will be able to tell you if it needs to be adjusted for maximum cooling. If you can, also inspect the hoses and the coolant reservoir. When checking the hoses, give them a squeeze (when the engine is cool) every now and then to make sure they are firm (not hard) and not soft & squidgy. Ideally, you should change your coolant once every other year for the best performance.

 

Windscreen Wipers

Even though it’s summer, you can bet in the UK it will rain! If your classic ventures out in winter the wiper blades take a hammering so the likelihood is they will be worn out by spring. Worn wipers create streaks and sometimes scratches across the windscreen which affect visibility and road safety. Replacing them doesn’t cost much but is worth it for greater safety and less stress. (Note, faulty wiper blades can also be an MOT failure).

 

Essential Fluids

Check your oil, clutch, brake, PAS and windscreen washer fluids regularly! These liquids are constantly being used and consumed.

Don’t forget, if you drive a car with an automatic transmission, refer to your owner’s manual on how and if you need to check the fluid level. The fluid should be a bright shade of red and at the exact level the manufacturer recommends. Too much fluid could cause overpressure problems and too little can burn out your torque converter. Also make sure to fill it with the recommended mix designated by the SAE number.

Brake fluid – This is an extremely important fluid to check as degradation of this can lead to reduced performance or even (in extreme cases) complete brake failure. Brake fluid reservoir is often located near the base of your car’s windscreen or on some classics under the floor mat/carpet. It should be clear and as close to the full mark as possible. If the fluid is dark and grubby-looking, it should be flushed and replaced by an experienced mechanic. Brake fluid is extremely poisonous so handle with caution. As brake fluid is also hydroscopic (which means it absorbs moisture from the air and loses effectiveness over time) you should never reuse an open bottle or shake a bottle as you will introduce air bubbles into it.

 

Air Conditioning System

If you’re lucky enough to own a classic with A/C, many of you will be wanting to use it in the summer months. Many people leave problems with their air con until they wish to use it, so now is the time to fix it! If it is an older air con system, then leaking the gas into the atmosphere is not good at all. There are several leak sealing products and refrigerant ‘top-ups’ available from motor factors or alternatively, (and what we recommend) take into your local garage for fixing and reconditioning. We would always recommend having a qualified mechanic fix the leak before paying to have your aircon unit recharged.

 

Air Filter

The decomposing leaves in winter may be blocking drainage points, washer jets or the air filter. Now would be a good time to buy a new one or take the old one out to give it a good clean and apply fresh air cleaner oil.

 

Tyres

Okay, so tyres ideally need to be checked all year round. However, if you a sucker for forgetting, go check them now! Check the pressure is correct, the tyres are free of stones/stray nails/etc and that all four of them have no cracks, no bubbles on the side wall, uneven wear and plenty of tread depth. If you see any of these the tyre needs to be changed. Don’t forget to check that the spare is usable too.

If you have a set of winter and summer tyres, make sure you inspect both sets of rubber as you swap them.

Another thing to look out for is missing balance weights. If these are no longer on, it may be worth popping to your local garage and getting the tyres balanced. Bear in mind some tyre fitters will not entertain balancing wire wheels so make sure they can do it before hand.

 

Brakes

In the frosty winter weather, your brakes can see a lot of abuse. Brake pads can suffer extreme thermal freezing (huge temperature changes due to the heat of use meeting freezing water or deep puddles). Removing your wheels is often best when inspecting brakes. If you can do so, remove your brake pads/shoes & check for significant wear and cracking. If you can’t, make sure the edges aren’t crumbling or discoloured and that the brake disks/drums have no significant cracking. If you suspect anything is wrong take you car to your mechanic who will be able to double check and replace anything that may be worn.

 

Dashboard Sunshade

It is handy to get a cover that goes across the windscreen to protect the dashboard from UV rays and helps your car stay cooler. There are even solar panels on some covers to keep the battery charged. We would also consider shades for the rear side windows too as they do provide protection for children and helps prevent fading over time especially the drying out of leather.

 

Car Wash

Yes, spring clean your car! Winter effects all parts of your car – everything from your brake lines to engine get bombarded with salt, ice, water, sand and general muck. Interiors become dirt filled with tracked in grime. Vacuum and wash the carpets to stop that damp mucky smell. Clean the inside of the windows which are most likely a little smudgy where little ones may have used their hands instead of a cloth to wipe away the frost/condensation etc. Also, it is worth washing your engine bay as it makes it easier to diagnose leaks/aging parts.

 

People

Make sure everyone in your car is properly hydrated, especially if you are planning a long trip. It is better to stop regularly for toilet brakes and hydration than to end up fatigued. Don’t forget to include sunglasses, hats, route planner, weather forecasts, emergency triangle, torch, a small tool kit and a selection of parts that commonly fail in case of emergencies. If your service is due, think about getting it done before that long road trip. Take care of your car and it’ll take care of you

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