The temperatures are on the rise… the days are growing longer… and that can mean only one thing: It’s time to get your classic car ready for spring!

From batteries to belts and hoses, fluid levels to the fuel system, your classic car needs a bit of TLC after a winter spent in hibernation. The good news is that most classic car spring maintenance tasks fall under the heading of general maintenance.

If you’re as excited as we are to hit the road again in your vintage ride, then keep reading. We’ll share essential tips, so you can learn how to prepare your classic car for spring.

Tip 1: Inspect Belts, Hoses and Gaskets

Before you take any other steps, give your car a good once-over. Lift the hood and inspect belts, gaskets, seals, hoses and other rubber parts; you’re looking for any signs of cracking, wear and deterioration. Look carefully for any signs of dry rot.

Next, make sure that belts are adjusted to the correct tension level. If you’re almost at the end of a belt, go ahead and replace it.

Ensure hoses are leak-free, and that all clamps fit tightly. Pay special attention to the thermostat housing, heater hose, intake manifold and water pump to ensure that none are leaking.

Tip 2: Top Off Fluids

It’s time to move on to fluids. First, take a walk around your car and check out the ground underneath. While a few drips here and there aren’t cause for panic, puddles may be cause for concern, so be sure to investigate.

Now, take a look at your fluid levels. Depending on your make and model of car, you may have to check:

  • Oil
  • Transmission
  • Coolant
  • Brake
  • Power steering
  • Differential
  • Windshield washer

If fluids are low, top them off. If they look dirty or have a strange odour (for instance, if transmission fluid smells “burnt”), it’s time to change them. In fact, now is a perfect time for an oil change and a new filter.

Finally, if you didn’t put a gas stabilizer in the tank last fall, you may need to add some water absorbent product. Better yet, simply drain and dispose of the old fuel.

Tip 3: Battery and Electrical

Now move on to the battery check portion of your classic car spring maintenance. Make sure the battery water levels are at the appropriate level. If they’re low, refill with distilled water. Check and clean the battery terminals, too.

If you hooked the battery up to a trickle charger last fall, it’s time to disconnect from the charger and re-hook up to your engine. Of course, if you removed your battery completely, give it a charge and reinstall it.

Make sure electrical wiring is intact. Look for any signs of corrosion or (worse) signs of rodent infestation. Secure any loose wires using electrical tape and zip ties.

Tip 4: Check the Tires, Lights and Brakes

Turn your attention to the tires. Look for any signs of weakness or dry rot. If you notice uneven wear, consider a rotation. Check the pressure, too, and make sure the lug nuts are torqued properly.

Make sure the lights are all working properly. Don’t forget the turn signals!

Take a look at the brakes. If you have disc brakes, check pad thickness. If you have drum brakes, make sure they’re adjusted correctly. Make sure there aren’t any brake fluid leaks and check the lines from wheels to master cylinder.

Tip 5: Final Steps

Finally, give the inside of your classic car a checkup, too. By this point, you’ll have already noticed if rodents chose your car as their winter home, but be sure to check the glove box and seats, as well.

Once you’ve completed your classic car spring maintenance, it’s time for the big event: Start it up! You may want to push the car outside first, just in case the carb floods or spark lights. In any case, vent the exhaust outdoors.

Let your car run for at least 10 minutes before taking it out for a spin. And keep that first springtime drive short and close to home, just in case problems arise.

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