After pouring your heart and soul into getting your dream car, the last thing you want it to do is lose its cool. Unfortunately, that’s all too easy for old cars to do, especially if you’re putting them through their paces more often than not. You don’t have to settle for simply putt-putting around town, however. All you have to do is make maintaining your classic car cooling system a top priority. To help you out, here’s a look at the classic car maintenance you need to do to keep your cooling system working at its best.

Check Your Fluids Regularly

The cooling system in your classic car works by using a water pump to circulate fluid through the engine, radiator, heater core, and other related parts. The fluid not only keeps the engine cool, but also lubricates the moving parts within the system, like the impeller on the water pump.

To ensure the system works as intended, you must fill the radiator with a 50/50 mix of coolant (or antifreeze) and water. Water alone corrodes the system, so skip the urge to grab the hose and just fill it up.

Even when properly mixed, the coolant loses its cooling and lubricative properties over time. So, plan to change it every 40,000 – 50,000 kilometres or five years, whichever comes sooner. Always refer to manufacturer recommendations.

Get a Coolant Flush Service

Although you can drain your coolant and refill it yourself, a professional coolant flush service is the way to go if you want to clean out all the passageways. The coolant flush service uses a machine to continually flush new fluid through the system until it comes out clean.

While that happens, your auto tech will check for minor to major classic car cooling system issues. Upon completing the service, the tech will fill up your radiator with a fresh coolant mixture and let you know about any issues found during the inspection.

Replace Worn Parts

Whether you take your classic cars into the shop or do services at home, it’s important to replace worn parts as they reach the end of their service life.

Throughout the ownership of your classics, cooling system parts you’ll likely need to replace include:

  • Coolant hoses
  • Thermostat
  • Radiator
  • Heater core
  • Water pump

Ideally, you’ll want to complete the replacement services before each component fails to keep them from damaging adjacent parts. So, create a strict maintenance schedule and change each part on time to keep your classic car cool, comfortable, and oh-so-enjoyable mile after mile.

Watch for Signs of Trouble

Even upon completing all the right maintenance tasks on schedule, you still need to watch your cooling system for signs of trouble. Depending on the year, make, and model of your classic car, a coolant warning light makes it easy to see when things have gone wrong

If you do, it might look like a little thermometer with wavy lines underneath or just say, “TEMP.” When that light comes on, you’ll know for sure that your car is about to overheat.

Without a coolant temp light on your side, you’ll need to watch for other signs of trouble, such as:

  • Smell of maple syrup coming through the vents
  • Steam rising out of the seams around the hood
  • Bubbling noises coming from the engine compartment
  • A marked decrease in power, especially during acceleration

When in doubt, pull over when safe and let your car cool off for a bit. Do not check the coolant level right away, however. The liquid builds pressure inside the radiator as it heats up, resulting in an eruption of boiling fluid if you take off the cap while it’s still hot.

Once your car cools down, you can check the fluid level and top it off with more of your coolant/water mixture. After that, get your classic car into the shop for a once-over to see if its cooling system needs service.

If you prefer to let the professionals handle it from start to finish, call for a tow and have them bring it to your auto repair shop of choice. This is an easy choice if you have an emergency roadside service plan in place.

With that plan on your side, you can avoid taking unnecessary risks with your classic car cooling system. You can simply call for service any time you feel like your classic cars are acting up, allowing you to enjoy your travels with true peace of mind.

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