5 Classic Car Care Tips for a Trouble Free Summer of Fun
Summer is right around the corner, and soon you’ll be dusting off that vintage iron in your garage in anticipation of warm days and cool nights spent cruising the boulevards of your hometown and beyond. Even high gasoline prices won’t spoil the fun. But the winter of rest can really put a damper on the fun if you don’t put in a little up-front time giving your “baby” a seasonal check-up. Here are 5 important tips that can make your summer cruising a whole lot more fun:
- Fluids– Check engine oil and coolant, transmission (manual and/or auto), differential(s), brake, power steering, clutch (if hydraulic) and battery electrolyte. Change or refill as necessary. Keep records. If any of the above is drastically low, you may have a major leak. Find the cause and repair before you hit the road. Is it time for an oil change?
- Tires– Check air pressure, add if needed. Look at sidewalls for signs of dry-rot (dry and cracking rubber). If you see rot, it might be a good idea to replace the tire(s). Does the tread come up to at least Lincoln’s head on a penny (2/32″)? If not, better replace the tire(s).
- Brakes– Remove, at minimum, one wheel front and rear and examine the brakes. Do the shoes/pads have adequate lining? If not, better replace them now. Are the drums or rotors scored or smooth? If so, look into getting them resurfaced or replaced. Pry up an edge of the rubber cap on a wheel cylinder and look for brake fluid. If wet, then it’s time to replace that wheel cylinder, now check them all. If a disk caliper is leaking, replace or rebuild it and check the other(s). Notice any signs of excess grease or axle lubricant? If so, now would be an excellent time to replace those seals. Chances are the brake shoes are ruined if the seals were leaking. You must replace them along with the seals. Does the park brake work? This is as important as the service brakes and should be working well. Adjust brakes as needed.
- Chassis– Don’t forget to grease all suspension and driveline fittings. Check wheel bearings, king pins, tie rods, rubber bushings and/or ball joints for excessive play or wear. Any of these items can contribute to an unsafe vehicle, so replace or repair them as necessary.
- Miscellaneous– Finally, perform a visual inspection of the exhaust system, looking for worn or disconnected hangers, rusted-out pipes and/or mufflers or other obvious defects. Inspect all lights on the vehicle, especially brake and turn signal lights if so equipped. A burned-out license plate lamp is a sure stop by a cop, so make sure all is well there. Put updated copies of registration and proof of insurance in the glovebox. Are the windshield wipers in good working order? Replace both if even slightly dry or torn.