Yes! The sun is brighter and you have finally hung up the heavy snow gear. It is time to look forward to warm days spent cruising the open road in your classic car. Besides giving your baby a good wash, wax, and interior cleaning, what else do you need to do to prepare for that first spring drive?
Inspect the Tires for Wear and Balance
Did you know that your tires actually have an expiration date? The rubber in your tires will degrade over time when subjected to nothing more than sunlight and frigid winter temperatures. Look for cracking on the sidewalls and run your hand over all surfaces to test for dry rot. Of course, use a penny to check for tread depth and then take a slow ride around the block to check the balance. Don’t hesitate to put on a new set of sneakers or have an alignment and balance done at your favourite shop.
Check the Belts for Cracking and Wear
Just like the tires, the timing belt and auxiliary belt are constructed out of rubber and steel. Avoid a total belt failure by testing the belts for tension, cracking, and if applicable, wear on the ribbing. While you have the hood up, check out any visible flexible seals and bushings. Run your hand down the sides of the pumps to look for leaks. Change out the engine filter, too, so your baby can breathe easier.
Look at All Your Fluid Levels
While doing an oil change is a great way to kick off the season, don’t forget to top up all the different fluids. Look under the cap of the master brake cylinder, inspect your coolant, check the transmission, and don’t forget the windshield washer reservoir. Do you have a battery that requires maintenance? Top it up with some distilled water.
Put Your Brakes to the Test
The constant change in temperatures and humidity levels over the long winter can leave a sheen of rust on your rotors. While thinking about the balance for your tires, put the pedal down on the brakes a few times to shake off the rust. Inspect the rotors for signs of pitting and determine if this is the year to have them resurfaced. If you have drum brakes, does the pedal feel soft or are you experiencing uneven deceleration? Now is a good time to put the ride up on jack stands and check for leaks in the brake lines, sticky springs, or stuck pistons on your callipers.
Take a Peek at Your Suspension
Whether you run leaf springs, coil springs, or shocks, they will give up over time. Your ball joints are also susceptible to wear and failure, especially if you hit a few potholes before you parked the car in the fall. Jack up each corner of the car to take the weight off the suspension. Shine a light and look for rust, test flexibility, and listen for rattles and bangs that don’t belong. You can avoid a bumpy ride and short stop by completing your suspension service before you register with the rolling car show.
Preparing your classic car for its first day in the sun should always include a full safety inspection, too. Do the headlights and taillights work? Are the turn signals doing their thing? Are the bumpers in good working order? Is the registration up to date? Do you have proper classic car insurance with coverage for the value of your prized possession? Finally, be a good citizen and ensure that the muffler didn’t grow a hole in the off-season. Now, you and your baby are ready for an epic drive down the coast, through the mountains, or over empty country roads.
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