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How to Look After Your Classic Car

Posted on November 15, 2016

Maserati, looking after classics

So, you have found your dream car and imported it to New Zealand? What next?

Although looking after classic cars follows some of the general principles of car maintenance, their age means there is extra TLC needed to keep them running smoothly.

Storing your classic car

Before buying a classic car, we would always advise to think carefully about where you will keep it. This is one of the most important decisions which will affect its longevity and state.

Any car will get damaged by weather over time, especially if you live on the coast where they may be exposed to sand and seawater. Water in the form of rain is, of course, a great enemy of anything metal, but this is not the only thing cars have to contend with as humidity, cold or warm, is exactly as harmful and contributes to corrosion of metal and chrome parts.

On the other hand, sun may be lovely if you are thinking of having a barbecue, but it definitely isn’t an old car’s best friend. If you leave your classic car in the sun regularly, you may notice discolouration of its upholstery or leather interior over time which will devalue it. And as authenticity is everything when it comes to those golden beauties, having to change the interior could also seriously reduce your car’s appeal.

Insurance companies will also be very reluctant to take on your car if they hear that it is kept outdoors, so it is absolutely essential that you have a dry, sheltered garage or space to keep your vehicle in. Investing in a dehumidifier can be worth considering, and for very valuable vehicles, you may even consider a ‘carcoon’ – car cocoon – a storage bubble which creates a stable environment for your car in terms of temperature and humidity and promotes good air circulation by using carbon filters.

Start your car up regularly

Cars are made to be driven, but with classic cars, it isn’t always advisable to take them for a spin. If this is the case for yours, make sure that you start it up at least once every fortnight and let the engine run until it has reached normal running temperature.

Like us, cars need to move around and have a stretch once in a while so try and drive it for a few miles to prevent the brakes and the clutch sticking and hydraulics failing.

Don’t leave the handbrake on

We are taught to leave the handbrake on when a car is stationary, but for an old car it could spell trouble: over time, cables can seize up and not release the brake when you let it off.

If your car is stored on flat ground in a garage, not having the handbrake on shouldn’t be a problem, but if it is on a slope, you still want to make sure that it won’t roll downhill as soon as your back is turned. To do this, you can leave the car in gear or you can use chocks under the wheels.

Disconnect your battery

If you don’t drive your car regularly, the battery will go flat which reduces its life, as much as will having to jump-start it. It is therefore best to disconnect it when you are not using it, or connect it to a trickle charger.

Check fluid levels regularly

Checking fluid levels such as oil and water is part of maintenance routines for any car, and classics are no different. However, they need to be checked even more scrupulously in an old car, ideally each time you are about to drive it, as their age means that they will tolerate less well any issues arising from low fluid levels.

In addition to oil and water, you should also check clutch and brake fluids.

Have the car serviced every year

Regular servicing will make sure that any problem developing is picked up on early and is essential. Have at least the oil changed, regardless of how many kilometres the car was driven, and make sure that the brakes, steering and suspension are checked.

Many classic car owners are handy with spanners and have learnt to adjust their cars themselves, but even if you are a very skilled and knowledgeable enthusiast, it is always good to get a professional opinion regularly. It is easy to overlook simple repairs that could turn into more serious issues. In addition, a mechanic can find spare parts that are difficult to get without access to trade suppliers – they will probably be cheaper that way too.

Use specialist car dealers

While modern cars can be repaired and serviced by any competent car dealer, it would be unwise to leave your classic car with a generalist garage, regardless of their professionalism. Old cars have their quirks and you need a company that specialises in the make of your car and will know the workings of yours intimately. Not only does it make sense from a mechanical point of view but also when it comes to the authenticity of your car. Having a specialist stamp in the car’s service book is very important to its history and will contribute to its maintaining its value and appeal if you decide to sell it.

Clean your car, really clean it

You thought cleaning your car to pass the MPI inspection was the last of it, didn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong!

Grease and grime build up easily and lead to poor performance, and parts that rust and seize more easily, so you’ll have to clean your car thoroughly on a regularly basis, including the paintwork, not forgetting to rinse the soap thoroughly to avoid soap marks.

Whether you are an old hand at importing classic cars or a newbie, we can guide you and make it a stress-free process for you thanks to over two decades’ experience in international car shipping. If you want to find out more, call us on +64 9 303 0075 or send us an email. You can even request a quote online.


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