Whether you’re the proud owner of a retro classic or you possess a brand new model, if you love your cars, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure that it stays in great condition for as long as possible. No one wants to say goodbye to their car before they absolutely have to, so we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help prolong the life of your car.
Use Clean Fuel
The fuel is the lifeblood of your car, so make sure you always use one of a high quality. Check at your petrol station if they filter the fuel at the pump, and if they change the pump filters regularly. Try to find a petrol station that you trust and stick to it. Another thing to look out for is the fuel tanker – if you visit the station when they are just refilling the tanks, you may get more sediment in your fuel due to the turbulence of refilling, which can lead to clogged fuel filters and poor performance.
Check Your Tyres
It can be a pain, but regular tyre checks really do make a difference. Check your tyres regularly to ensure that the pressures are correct, the tread isn’t too low, there aren’t any small cracks and look out for any uneven wear which may indicate a need for wheel alignment. Have a look at the manufacturer’s manual to see the recommended point at which you should change your tyres. Also, if your car is in storage for any lengthy period, try to keep the car on axle stands to ensure the tyres stay round and do not develop flat-spots.
Check Your Brake Fluid
Carry out a check on your brake fluid monthly. If it does need adding, ensure that you only use the type recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, and don’t use it from a container which had previously been opened.
It isn’t merely a matter of making sure that the engine is regularly serviced according to its manufacturer’s schedule, it’s also a matter of being considerate about its use too. Before you drive off in the morning, make sure that there is some temperature in the engine oil and that it has had time to circulate around the engine – from top to bottom. If not, you will be driving off with only a tiny amount of oily residue at the top of the engine – and this lack of lubrication will only shorten the unit’s life.
In modern cars, also check the condition of the sump if it is tin. Modern engines are oil-tight, so the unpainted sump will be vulnerable to road dirt and salt – and possibly rotting through eventually.
Cleaning the engine should be done at least every year or two, to enhance the life of your car. It will ensure that the engine runs cooler and will also make it easier to spot any issues (ie leaks). Use a detergent and a stiff brush to clean the engine – or a steam-cleaner – and wipe down the battery. (Make sure that you rinse it all thoroughly if using the former.)
Take Care of Your Gearbox
Boy-racer starts won’t do your clutch or gearbox any good, so try to avoid these. Again, just as with the engine – before any energetic use, allow time for the gearbox oil to warm up and circulate. Also, try and be smooth when using a manual gearbox and clutch, your mechanical sympathy will be rewarded with a long service life.
If you intend to keep your car for a long mileage, it is also worth practicing heel and toe downchanges (otherwise known as rev-matching), to preserve the gearbox’s synchromesh. However, if the brake pedal does not allow this – ie possibly it is over-servo’d – then double-clutching will also have the same live-preserving effect.
In hotter climes, the sun and heat are not good for your car; they can cause serious damage to your car’s interior, and break down and fade paint over time. Ideally, we’d recommend parking in a garage, but if you don’t have one available to you, try to find a shady spot on your drive or road. However, do check the pavement for signs of bird mess, because this can cut through and mark modern water-based paint finishes.
Also, if you take pride in your car, watch where you park it in large car parks. Many people do not look nor care when they open their door to get in or out – leaving a dent, ding or scratch in your car. So if its practical, park in a quiet area where there are fewer cars. The extra walk will do you good, too.
Nicks and scratches mean rust can form easily on your vehicle. Keep a tub of matching paint to hand in your garage at all times, so if your car does incur any small nicks, you’ll be able to touch them up quickly and easily.
Also, as previously mentioned keep the car free of bird mess – get it off as soon as possible to avoid permanent marks.
Waxing is a fairly lengthy process, but the end results are well worth it. Car wax helps in preserving your paintwork for longer – and it’ll make your car look dazzling. Use a proper paste wax and apply a thin layer with a damp sponge. Carefully use a soft, microfiber cloth to remove the wax, in order to avoid scratches.
Oh and make sure you do this doing moderate temperatures, because in extreme weather temperatures this can be very hard work.
Preserve During Storage
If you keep your classic car in storage for most of the year, you still need to take care over it. Before placing it in storage, change the oil and filter, remove the battery and fill the fuel tank up to avoid condensation. Again, when in storage, keep the car on axle stands of possible, to avoid heavy pressure on the wheels and tyres.
Finally, if the car has been left for a long time, remove the spark plugs – pump a small amount of oil into the bores and crank the engine. This will ensure that the cylinders move freely in the dry bores and this will also allow the oil pump to lubricate the top of the engine. Refit the plugs, and start as normal.
This guest post was written by Emma Williams (with additional material from Dep-O) for Advanced Vehicle Leasing. Look into car leasing from AVL and let them handle the maintenance for you.