RAC Cars News


Getting a classic back on the road for Spring

By raccars Published

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Are you ready to get your classic car back on the road - and do you know how to?

It's in the nature of classic car ownership that winter is a fallow period, partly because the British winter is so hard on old metal and partly because crawling through rain and snow takes a lot of the fun out of driving. While some people just leave their vintage ride languishing in the garage during the winter months, a careful and sensible owner will have taken the time to lay the vehicle off properly for its hibernation. Now that Spring is here, it's time to look at getting her back on the road to enjoy the all-too-brief period of good weather that Britain enjoys.

Preparing the car to get back on the road

You may already be aware of any mechanical problems from which the car is suffering but if not, an MoT or service at this time of year can help to flag up any issues and give you time to rectify them before the season really starts. Whether you perform the work yourself or have it serviced by a professional, the least a classic car deserves after its winter lay-off is an oil change and some new filters, unless these were only recently done.

Check all fluid levels as a matter of course and top up or change where necessary. It might be a good idea to freshen up your brake fluid as damp winter weather can result in moisture absorption.

You should have disconnected the battery at the start of the car's rest period or at least have left it connected to a charging unit. If not, give it a full charge and replace it if it seems to be struggling. Spark plugs will need a once over and a clean-up. Old, worn and oily plugs should be replaced as a complete set. Cast your eye too over all hoses and belts as these can crack or fray with time. Adjust or replace where appropriate - it's not worth waiting for them to fail en route as this can be both expensive and extremely inconvenient.

Starting her up

If you're satisfied with the condition of the car, it's time to start her up. You may have had a little fuel flow back from the carburettor to the tank which needs to be reloaded, or you may need to give some encouragement with a little starter fluid. If there are points on the car, clean them and check gapping.

Once you've got her started, allow her to warm up in her own time, using a faster idle setting rather than heavy revving. While the engine is running, have a good look under the bonnet and underneath the car to see if there are any fluid leaks. It can be helpful to have the assistance of someone else to apply the brakes while you check the wheel arches and brake hoses. They can also help you to check that all your lights are functioning correctly. Gently check the handbrake too before you set off anywhere.

Ready to go

Once the car has reached normal operating temperature you can give her a gentle rev - it's quite normal for condensation to have built up in the exhaust over winter so you may notice some water or steam coming out. However if there's a great cloud of it you should turn the engine off and seek the help of a mechanic.

Finally, before taking to the road, check the condition and pressure of your tyres - some owners prefer to over inflate beforehand so that the lay-off doesn't result in flat spots.

Now you can take to the open road!

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