Classic cars don’t look after themselves - they need a lot of TLC and maintenance. Cars are, after all, supposed to be kept moving. They are not designed to sit in storage for long periods of time and if they do, they will deteriorate. So whether you are planning on using your classic car just for the pleasure of driving it, you are planning on using it for commercial hires or you are just buying it as an investment and will be storing it for long periods, you will want to ensure it is well-maintained so it holds it value.
We have a deep respect for classic cars at Foster & Heanes. With a history spanning 60 years, we have had the opportunity to work on many heritage cars and we still get a tingling of excitement when a true vintage is booked in to our workshop. As long as you follow a scheduled maintenance programme with your classic car, it will provide you with years of pleasure and may even prove to be one of your best ever investments!
Here are some tips and advice from the team at F&H on buying a classic car and keeping it in good condition:
1. Buying a Classic Car – Inspect it fully!
Check all paperwork and documentation. It is important to check that the VIN matches other VINs on vehicle and paperwork and that the paperwork is original. If your car has been restored, it should have a restoration history record. Also check for documented repairs, oil changes and scheduled maintenance.
Listen to the Car Running on Idle. Look to see if smoke is coming from the exhaust. It depends on the colour of the smoke as to what is causing it, but it could be blue/grey, white, black or just water vapour. How does the engine sound when you rev it? Keep it running until the engine is hot and then check again for exhaust smoke.
Take car on road test. Inspect the car’s driving performance and acceleration. Listen for abnormal noises in the engine, suspension, automatic transmission/transaxle, drive axle, bearings or when making gear changes. Check the clutch isn’t slipping and is engaged. Test the responsiveness of the steering and brakes. Check the speedometer, tachometer, odometer are working.
Inspect exterior – Check for rust, repairs or damage. Check for dents, mismatched paint and overall paint conditions. A magnet can detect any filler used to repair dents. Inspect chrome for damage and poor repairs. Open/close doors, bonnet, boot and check for smooth operation. Inspect grills and trims for bends and dents. Inspect windows and mirrors for cracks or repairs. Check mirrors condition. Check exterior lights working.Inspect Interior – Check seat belts are operational. Test audio/speaker system. Test heating/air ventilation. Check clock and horn working. Inspect glove box, dashboard components and switches. Check mirrors functional. Check fuel filler door release and bonnet lock works. Check handles operate, seats adjust, locks function, windows can be opened and closed. Check all leather, vinyl and material including soft top condition and operation if it has one.
Check under Bonnet – Check for oil leaks, inspect air filter for signs of oil, check oil is clean. Inspect timing belt and chain, inspect belts for wear and fraying. Check hoses, inspect wiring, inspect engine mounts. Look for water pump leaks, pressure test radiator cap, look for fuel pump leaks, inspect fuel filter.
Check the Tyres – Check they are the correct size, tread depth and pressure. Check for abnormal wear and check condition of valve stems. Do all tyres match and is the spare included and in usable?
2. Classic Car Insurance – Do your research!
Insurance providers use different criteria to determine whether they deem a car to have a ‘classic’ or ‘heritage’ status. You may be able to get a standard insurance policy for your classic car, however you are likely to get better cover with a specialist insurance policy as insurance companies make the assumption that owners of classic cars tend to drive their cars less often than they would a modern car and are also less likely to take it out in hazardous conditions. For this reason, and because classic cars are generally very well maintained, you may find a classic car insurance policy is actually less expensive than a standard one. You will, however, need to consider the amount of mileage you are likely to drive because most classic car insurance policies will have capped mileage.
Get your car valued before buying an insurance policy. You don’t necessarily just want to insure it for its market value because if it is stolen or written off, some classic cars increase in value over time and if you insured it 5 years ago at the market value at that time, then you will have lost out on any investment gain. When taking out an insurance on a classic car, make sure your insurer is willing to review the price on a regular basis. Also check the replacement parts policy to see what parts are covered should it need to be repaired. If you are planning on using your car for commercial purposes, such as to hire out at weddings or events, you will need additional cover that will include using it for commercial gain.
It is always wise to get a few quotes before making a decision as specialist insurance providers aren’t always the cheapest, and you may find a high street insurer who provides a comprehensive policy that fits the bill. A point to remember is that buying a specialist classic car insurance policy means you are not likely to be able to build up a no-claims discount – shame!
3. Classic Car Maintenance – Give your car the TLC it deserves!
It is advisable to schedule in regular maintenance checks on your classic car any issues can be identified early before they become bigger and more expensive problems. When buying a classic car, check you can get replacement parts for it. Some parts are very difficult to get hold of, so it pays to do your research when you buy the car and make a list of where you can purchase replacement parts if and when needed.
If you are using your classic car regularly, then regular use will help keep it running smoothly but if your car is stored for long periods, it is crucial to keep up the maintenance to stop working parts from seizing up.
Battery – if you are storing the car for long periods, it is best to remove the battery. If you are using your classic car regularly, then this will keep it charged and in good condition.
Check Fluid Levels – brake fluid, oil, engine coolant and anti-freeze should all be checked regularly, particularly during the winter. When checking the levels, also look for signs of leaks and check the pipes are good condition.
Change Oil and Filter – give your classic car a complete oil and filter change before storing it away for the winter. Use a quality brand of oil that promote corrosive protection.
Wash, Wax & Protect – keep the exterior in tip top condition with a regular wash and wax. Some classic car owners prefer to have their car washed and waxed by a professional car detailer. Car detailers will work meticulously to restore the paintwork so it is gleaming and protected with sealants and waxes. They will also dress wheels, windows and trims using special products. You may also want to spray leather, rubber and vinyl with protectant for long periods of storage to prevent cracking.
If you need further advice on buying a classic car, or would like to book your classic car in for a service or repair, please contact Bob Ravenscroft at Foster & Heanes on 01252 615657 or visit www.fosterandheanesltd.co.uk for further information.