Old cars are amazing. They’re charming. They have personality that mass-produced modern cars simply can’t compare to.
However, they do have some particular maintenance needs that may differ from newer cars. In some regards, owning an old car means becoming an expert in its maintenance needs. You don’t have to be a mechanic, but you do need to understand the peculiarities of older cars.
The first step is to understand your car in particular. All old cars are different, so get to know as much as you can about your vehicle before you set out to find broader knowledge on old car maintenance tips.
When you’re ready, you can try these general old car maintenance tips to keep your beloved older car running like a dream.
1. Figure Out What the Manufacturer Recommends
This does not apply to all old cars, but perhaps you have an old car that an owner or manufacturer can give you some information about. If you got your car in an unusual way – perhaps Craig’s List, a pawn shop, or another person-to-person dealer – you might be able to find the former owner.
Knowing someone who owned the car previously can be a gold mine in terms of getting information on the car and old car maintenance tips. However, this is often easier said than done. The owner has to be willing to talk with you and knowledgeable about the car themselves. This simply might not be the case depending on how invested they were in the car.
If you are even luckier, you might be able to go to a car dealership to get information about the vehicle. There are a lot of dealerships and collectors who offer classic cars. This can be a great resource if you are trying to learn old car maintenance tips.
You might also immerse yourself in the classic car community. This community is very active and very knowledgeable. There are meetups, magazines, and more that this community will circulate. All of these avenues are great paths to follow when you’re looking for information on old car maintenance tips.
Plus, you might find it fun! The classic car community can be a fun new social circle to explore, even as you learn more about your vehicle. While gaining the knowledge you’ll need to do maintenance on your car, you can make friends and get immersed in a new hobby.
2. Learn What You Can Safely Do On Your Own
Once you’ve learned what you can about your car, learn what you can safely repair on your own. Car repairs range from the extremely simple to the very complex. Assess your own abilities and what you are willing to do.
Doing your own maintenance on your classic car can be a very rewarding experience. You can learn more about your car and feel confident that you can repair it on your own. It also may save you a significant amount of money. Repairs for older cars can be expensive because parts are sometimes harder to come by. Being able to do some repairs on your own will save you money on labor.
There are some obvious things that you can do on your own. This includes things like changing your wipers. That’s an easy change that just involves removing one part and replacing it with a new one.
However, you also might be able to do things like brake repair, if you have the tools and confidence for it. Brakes aren’t especially difficult to change, but they are vital to the safe functioning of the car, so only take on this repair if you are sure you can do it correctly.
Part of learning old car maintenance tips is learning about the old car itself. Whether you’re changing wipers or replacing brakes, our first tip about learning about your car is vital. When in doubt, if you have the knowledge you may be able to look up the correct parts or steps in order to do car maintenance yourself.
However, this also lets you go into a shop with knowledge. If you know whether your engine is a fuel injection, for example, you can talk more knowledgeably with mechanics when you need professional help with maintenance.
3. Get Information on Your Car’s History
Yes, we’re still on the topic of gathering information, but the importance of this can’t be overstated. While you’re gathering facts, try to figure out your car’s history. How many owners has it had? Has it moved from state to state? What is its maintenance history?
In order to dive into old car maintenance tips, you should first know the history of the car you’re trying to maintain. This can be something like digging into the history of a used car. When you buy a used car, you want to know how many owners it’s had, whether it’s been involved in any accidents and exactly how old it is.
This is the same for old cars, as well. It might be trickier to find this out with a classic car compared to a used car, but if you can dig up this information it will serve you well when you go to do your maintenance.
4. Have Some Fun With Customization
OK, that’s enough with the history lesson. Old car maintenance tips don’t have to just be about gathering facts and doing research. This is your car and you should have some fun with it.
You can turn your classic car into a custom car if you have the knowledge, tools, and desire to do so. In fact, classic cars are often the subjects of intense customization. It isn’t just a paint job, either. Some enthusiasts will practically take a classic car apart piece by piece in order to customize it.
This obviously requires deep knowledge of old car maintenance tips and general old car repair. However, if you are willing to learn then you can do some truly amazing things with an older car.
If you don’t want to go about it alone, you can search for help from professionals. Some shops offer custom work or custom fabrication so you can restore your classic car with a little extra pizzazz.
If you end up going this route, try to arrive at the shop with a pretty good idea of what you’re looking for out of your classic car customization. Experts can help advise you, but you should have an idea of how you’d like to customize your car before seeking their help. This is where classic car groups and shows can be a super helpful resource for sharing ideas or just getting to see customizations that others have tried.
5. Get Expert Help When You Need It
Speaking of experts, always seek out professionals when you think you need to. Old car maintenance tips can get you part of the way there, but there are some jobs you simply aren’t going to be equipped to handle without the resources and knowledge of an auto body repair shop.
This isn’t to say that a professional needs or even should be your first stop if something goes wrong with your classic car. As we stated in some of the other old car maintenance tips here, there is a lot you can take on on your own. The experience of repairing your car yourself can be a very rewarding one, as well, teaching you about your car and empowering you to look after its maintenance in the long run.
However, some jobs require special parts, tools, or knowledge, and that’s when it’s best to seek out a professional. It’s one thing to change the oil or windshield wipers, it’s quite another to start tinkering with the engine. If you aren’t sure about something, get an expert’s help.
This doesn’t need to be a one-way street, either. You may be able to pick up some old car maintenance tips from your auto mechanic. Mechanics are car enthusiasts just like us. Even a brief casual conversation might teach you things about your classic car that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
6. Learn About Individual Parts
For example, you might find an opportunity to learn about individual parts of your vehicle. Perhaps the mechanic is looking at the engine or has to order a new part. This can be a chance for you to learn about that part and why it is vital to the operation of your car.
All cars have a lot of parts. Plus, with classic cars, some of those parts are different from modern car parts. By learning about these individual pieces, you may find yourself better equipped to repair all parts of the car and do maintenance on your own.
Think of your time at the auto shop as an investment in the future of your classic car. Yes, you are paying for someone’s help right now, but doing so could open the door to you becoming able to do this maintenance yourself in the future.
Perhaps you’ve gone to the shop for customization and not just old car maintenance tips. That is a great opportunity as well. You can learn about how to paint a car, interesting additions, hot rod parts, and other customizations you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Learning about individual parts doesn’t just have to happen at the shop, either. Feeling curious? Look up some random parts that grab your interest. Do it when the mood takes you. Don’t make it feel like homework. Approach it more like a treat, a reward for when you have some downtime to spend just thinking about your car and learning about it.
You can also learn on the classic car community for these sorts of old car maintenance tips. They might know a lot about certain parts. You might even find someone who has the same kind of car as you, or at least a similar one. They might have already experienced much of the maintenance issues that you have yet to discover and could offer invaluable old car maintenance tips for your vehicle.
All of this adds up to you have a more thorough, in-depth picture of how your car works and what it’s made up of, which is information that will benefit you greatly when it comes time to do your own maintenance.
7. Don’t Forget the Basics
This is a lot of information on old car maintenance tips. Sometimes, that is just the nature of taking on a classic car and trying to maintain it yourself.
When in doubt, however, you can always go back to the basics. A classic car is still just a car. Many of the maintenance tasks involved in caring for an older car are no different from those for newer cars. You’ll still need to change the oil. You’ll still need to replace the brakes. You will still want to wash it regularly, something about 53% of U.S. car owners do at least once a month.
If you are finding the idea of taking care of your classic car overwhelming, start here with the simplest tasks. There’s no harm in learning slowly, getting to know your classic car over time before diving into old car maintenance tips that are more complicated.
Living the Classic Car Dream
Having a classic car can be a real statement on the road. They’re eye-catching. They have tons of personality. They are beautiful and interesting and different from just about every other car on the road.
However, they come with their own peculiar maintenance needs. You will need to become familiar with some old car maintenance tips in order to keep your classic car running well for as long as possible. They can be a fickle beast, but they are well worth the extra care, attention and time they demand.
No matter what kind of classic car you have, get connected with other old car enthusiasts. This will help you get more knowledgeable about old car maintenance tips and the things you can do without the help of an auto mechanic. And, no matter what, have fun. You’re living the classic car dream! It should be a fun and rewarding experience, even when you’re doing regular maintenance.