Guest blogger John Ficarra knows cars — and as a lifelong gearhead who spent almost a decade in NYC, he’s got some extremely important tips on how to keep your classic ride alive and kicking, even in our brutal environment. Today, he’s enjoying the more forgiving West Coast climate and heading up marketing for Canepa, the country’s most prestigious historic car restoration and sales company.
There’s no finer way to escape the city than to throw your bag into the back of a classic car, fire up the willing engine and tear off into the country. But how do you make sure that the old girl will be willing to scram when you are? A few simple precautions and maintenance tips will make sure your trip starts off with a roar… not a whimper.
Get Your Motor Runnin’
First, your car needs power. Batteries have a tendency to run flat over time, and the discharge can be made worse when the car is used infrequently. Normally, you would put a trickle charger on the battery, but if you’re parking in NYC in a public garage, this may not be an option.
To protect your car from inadvertently sucking the life out of your battery, install a kill switch. It is an easy-to-install switch placed near the battery that disconnects it from the car’s systems and can be fitted without permanently altering the car.
Arrest the Rust
Now that you have the juice, you want the car to make fire. That takes fuel. Gas can go stale after a period of time, and ethanol-infused fuels makes things worse — they can evaporate inside old mechanical fuel injection and leave behind water, which, of course, will create rust.
Rust is not something you want in your fuel system. If you are going to let your car sit for a few weeks or months, it’s simple to just add a fuel additive to your gas tank to keep the fuel fresh and your fuel system protected. Just pour it in, let the car run for a bit to get it flowing through the whole system, and you’re good to go.
Of course, the reason you bought a classic in the first place is to drive it — and look good while doing it. A tight-fitting cover will keep your car clean over long periods of storage, but if that’s not an option, a well-waxed car can protect itself.
With basic paint jobs now well over $10K and concours paint work heading north of $100K, a little preventative maintenance can keep your shine going for years. Get a professional detail once a year that includes polishing and wax. Yes, those are two different things — and they are well worth the money over the long term. If a well-waxed car gets dirty, just a simple wash will wipe away a multitude of sins.
Whatever you do, do not, ever – no really – ever run you finger over a dirty car. That dirt acts like sandpaper and can leave a nasty mark that will have to polished out.
Finally, even though your car sits more than an everyday driver, you want to maintain it yearly. Tune-ups, fluid changes and preventive maintenance need to be done with regularity. Remember these cars, when they were new, were daily drivers — and they can be as reliable as modern cars with a little care and diligence. So change your oil every 3000 miles or six months, even if you only drive it 1000 miles. Consider that $35 oil change the cheapest insurance on the market.
Love cars? Then do this!
The 2015 New York International Auto Show will return Friday, April 3rd through Sunday, April 12th at the Javits Center. See over 1,000 of the newest vehicles, including the most futuristic concept cars, latest production models, elite exotics, and cutting-edge automotive technology and innovation. Don’t forget to download the show’s free app to experience the show in the palm of your hand and plan your trip in advance. Purchase tickets at the door or at autoshowny.com.