5 tips to ready your classic car for summer

From scenic drives to parade fun, prep your classic car for the warmest months of the year.

Whether your classic vehicle will star in a July 4th parade, or you’re anxious to cruise with loved ones (or take a solo trip), one thing is clear: rising temperatures mean vintage car owners want to hit the road. There is nothing like a relaxing drive on a summer day, but you shouldn’t take your car directly from storage to the street. Classic vehicle owners should take precautions to ensure their classic car runs smoothly and safely. Your friends at Berkley One are here to help. Robert ‘Doc’ Young, AVP, Auto and Recreational Marine, is well-versed in auto dos and don’ts. Before you turn the key, check out his five essential tips for getting your vintage beauty out of storage and ready for summer cruising.

1. Check the battery. This is the perfect time to ensure your battery maintenance is up to date. A car battery can lose its charge or even die during long periods of inactivity. As many classic car owners store their cars during the winter, dead batteries can be a common side effect. “Classic car owners should charge their battery for 24 hours before hitting the road,” said Robert. “When cars sit for stretches of time, like a winter season, the battery can be affected. Charging your battery will keep the battery power levels where they should be.”

2. Thoroughly inspect the car. And not just under the hood. “Sometimes car owners like to keep things like baking soda containers inside the vehicle to absorb moisture. There’s nothing wrong with that, just pull those items out when you’re ready to do a summer drive,” said Robert. Note that moisture in and around the vehicle can accumulate. “Running the car before driving it allows water vapor to burn off condensation,” adds Robert. Be sure to remove any items used to plug the exhaust or engine intake. Checking your belts and hoses for any signs of rot will help prevent untimely breakdowns. He also noted that it’s important to get a thorough inspection and even a cleaning.

“You may want to have the car inspected after removing any car covers, so that you or a professional can check for mold, mildew, or damage to the interior or exterior. Vacuum the carpets and seats and wipe down all surfaces.”

Robert also urges classic car owners to check for another unwanted, but common problem: pests. “Critters love vehicles in storage, especially in the winter, as they are looking for places to build nests and stay warm,” said Robert. Common pests include mice, rats, or other large rodents. Classic car owners should always check the exteriors and interiors of their vehicles for signs of pests, like chew marks.

3. Check all fluid levels. Fluids can degrade or evaporate over time, so it’s vital to check all fluid replacement levels before driving your classic car. Robert instructed:

“Replace old fluids to avoid potential damage. You should check the engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and fuel.”

Note that when it comes to long-sitting fuel, consider draining it and adding fresh fuel. When adding fresh fuel, remember that this is not the step to cut costs. Most classic cars require higher-octane gas. Using lower-priced fuel just isn’t an option — cheaper fuel may cause performance issues and potentially damage the engine. You can read more about fuel efficiency here.

4. Examine your tires. Tires can lose air pressure over time and develop flat spots from sitting if they’ve been in storage. Inspect all tires for any signs of damage or dry rot before your first summer drive. “If you don’t know if your tires are filled properly,” said Robert, “you should look into that. It’s good to know if they’re working correctly. And while you’re at it, you can check your warning signals, horn, blinkers, and the spare tire, too.”

5. Be certain about your brakes. “You want to be confident about your brakes before you shift into gear,” said Robert. “Inspect anything that feels strange or wrong with the brake system.” That inspection includes checking out the brake pads, rotors, and calipers for any signs of wear or corrosion. Test the brake pedal to ensure it feels firm. If you notice any issues, have the brakes serviced by a professional before driving.

If you’ve heeded these tips, you’re likely ready to hit the road. Taking these steps to prepare your classic car will help ensure smooth drives during the summer months.

It also helps to know you have resources you can count on, and at Berkley One, our risk management and claims experts are here to help with proactive advice and risk consulting. We also offer access to our PlusOne℠ Service Network, a team of fully vetted and insured contractors and service providers at your fingertips who can help with proactive installations or repairs.

To learn more, contact us here.

Berkley One is a Berkley Company.