Some of us fear the car will not start when they come back, others it will be broken into or hit by a passing car and their pain is simply selfish, a car is ‘just a car’ after all, they do not want to be inconvenienced and calling the RAC out to get the car going is just fine in their book, come what may… the work horse must soldier on.
But for those of us who view our cars as mechanical pets things become a whole lot more complicated and personal to keep them alive, especially if we struggle to find the time to drive them, or indeed if we are driving them daily and think we are running them into the ground. Here, we fear not using our race horse is unhealthy, but over use can tire our precious animal out.
And thus we have two burning questions to tackle – how much use is enough use? And how can I minimise the wear and tear on my car? After years of driving all kinds of classic and modern cars, making the mistakes with them and slowly learning what works, I have a couple of rules I stick to.
Two Week Rule
For cars that are not used much, my two week classic car maintenance rule does what it says on the tin, every two weeks take your mechanical pet out for some exercise.
- Find excuses to go for a drive – take the family out, try a new restaurant out of town and learn to feel excited about keeping the car alive and not nervous.
- Ensure the car is driven for at least an hour, this way the engine and the oil will go through a full heat cycle.
- Give the brakes a good work out to clear corrosion off all surfaces and keep things moving freely.
- If you have air conditioning, run it for at least ten minutes.
- Operate the wipers and washers, put all windows up and down once, sunroof too and ensure the car is revved a couple of times into the higher rev range (no need to reach the limit).
- Drive on a motorway or dual carriageway if possible to run the car at higher speeds.
- The last ten minutes off the journey bring it home gently and park it up, making sure the steering wheel is set straight ahead and only turning the engine off when you are sure it is in the correct spot – the next time the car should be started is before the next trip.
- Put the handbrake on just enough to stop the car, but leave it in first gear if you have a manual or ‘PARK’ for auto.
- Avoid at all costs starting the car for a couple of minutes and turning it off.
Driving your car daily means that you do not need the two week rule, however, here are a couple of left field things for all drivers to be aware of.
Getting in and out is an art form. Do not put your body weight on sports seats bolsters getting in and out, they will break and loosen up over time otherwise, not good for keeping your interior in tip top condition.
Be careful of buttons on jeans and jackets that can wear leather out unnecessarily, take note of what your shoes are doing to your beautiful factory fitted mats; making a hole in one spot near the accelerator? Perhaps some over mats of different shoes are the order of the day.
Keep a close eye on rings marking the leather or wood on the steering wheel.
Avoid holding the power steering in the full lock position, always use it just shy of full lock, and do not use the power assistance at a standstill – yes it’s what it’s there for but it wears the system out.
It is not healthy to keep putting an auto box into N each time you stop – this is wear and tear and the switch only has an infinite amount of times to move ‘on and off’ – and on older cars cables can stretch – keep it in D.
Do not rest your hand on the gearlever because it sends the vibration back into the gearbox.
Keep the tank at least half full. Keep tyre pressures at their correct level. Be mindful of potholes and avoid them.
Be gentle with everything, use all functions with respect and sparingly.
And of course, just like any horse, a car needs regular washing and health checks – But these are two topics that are worthy of individual articles, so stay tuned folks!
This article was written and published by Mike Atwal. Mike works for Trade Classics as an in-house journalist and copywriter and has many years’ experience in the classic car sector – for over 8 years he was the General Manager of the Classic Car Club in London and responsible for a fleet of over 100 cars worth multi-million pounds. So there’s not much Mike doesn’t know about makes, models, maintenance and idiosyncrasies of these old cars. Mike’s a true petrol head with a deep passion for the classics and he loves to talk cars all day, so why not write a reply on this article below.
Tags: classic car maintenance, classic cars, mechanical pets
Categories: Classic Car Blog, Classic Car Maintenance, Mike Atwal