Spring is finally here! We can all look forward to sunny days, blooming flowers, and warmer temperatures ahead. As collector car enthusiasts, we also know that the change in seasons means it’s time to spring-clean that classic car.
After all, spring is the perfect time to get your collector car in tip-top shape. So, while you celebrate the snow and ice receding from the roads, we can also check these spring-cleaning tasks off of your to-do list… and get ready for the first drive of the year. So get your vintage auto out of winter storage, rip off that cover, and lean into the season.
These spring-cleaning steps will help you get your classic car in tip-top shape.
Wipe Down and Inspect
In a perfect world, you put your classic car into winter storage in a sparkling clean state and protected it with a cover. Of course, cars accumulate dust and debris even under ideal circumstances.
That’s why the first task on your spring clean list has to be a thorough wipe-down. Grab a fresh microfiber and your favourite cleaning spray and tackle any dust that’s accumulated on your car’s exterior over the winter. As you’re wiping down your classic car, take stock of any flaws or damage.
This is the perfect time to do a thorough inspection. Be on the lookout for:
- Signs of rodent infestation or damage (bite marks, cached food, and droppings)
- Scratches or cracks in the paint
- Pooling fluids under the car
- Fuel or coolant odour
- Water or pest damage in the interior
- Low air pressure or cracks in tire walls
- Stiff or cracked windshield wiper blades
- Tarnished or hazy brightwork
Pop the Hood
Now peek under the hood. Look for evidence of rodent infestation and spiderwebs around intakes. Clear any debris away from intakes before it gets into the system and causes problems.
Check hoses, gaskets, and belts for signs of shrinkage or hardening. When sitting idle for long periods, materials such as rubber, plastic and cork may contract, harden, and crack.
Next, make sure fluids are at optimal levels. Check brake fluid, coolant, engine oil, and transmission fluids. Of course, automatic transmission fluid should be checked after running the car, but just make sure there’s a sufficient level before you fire up the engine.
Keep an eye open for evidence of fluid leakage from the carb, water pump, master cylinder, heads, or intakes. Look for fraying belts and cracked hoses. Finally, check the battery for leaks or corrosion. Check the charge levels, too.
This is the ideal time to clean and polish components. While you’re inspecting, wipe everything down and give it a good re-greasing.
Get the Motor Running
Once you’ve noted (and fixed) any potential issues, it’s time to fire up the engine. For the first start, you may want to move the car out of the garage or just make sure you’ve got adequate ventilation.
If your classic car has a mechanical fuel pump and carb, add a bit of gas to the vent tubes to prime the carb. This should cut down on the engine cranking. You won’t need to bother if your car has an electric fuel pump.
If you’re concerned about a dry start, you may want to remove the spark plugs and hit the inside of the cylinders with a light spray of oil. This can help ease the first movements inside the combustion chambers after long inactive periods.
Once the engine is running, check out your gauges. Look for any leaks, and ensure the thermostat is working property with the radiator hose. Make sure the brakes, lights, and turn signals are working properly before you hit the road.
Now it’s time to get your collector car show-ready. After you’ve wiped the exterior to remove dust and debris, grab a mitt and a bucket and get to work. For premium detailing, consider using a foam gun; these cleaning tools remove dirt without scratching the paint.
Remove the seats and clean their undersides. While seats are out, brush the car’s interior from top to bottom with a soft brush, then vacuum everything. Lubricate seat adjusters before replacing the seats.
Treat vinyl or leather with conditioner. If the interior windows have fogged, use clean microfiber cloths to remove any greasy buildup. Clean the steering wheel separately, using a soft brush and cleaner with a neutral pH.
When you polish your brightwork, be sure to use a cleaning product that’s specific to the metal. In most cases, this will be chrome, brass, or copper. If your car has plastic trim, look for plastic dyes and conditioners designed to enhance shine and deepen color.
Giving your classic car a good spring cleaning takes time and effort, but it’s a labour of love and a rewarding task. In no time, you’ll be out on the road, enjoying the beautiful spring weather.