It’s Labor Day weekend here in the United States (well, it was Labor Day weekend when I wrote this) and the insanity of 2020 continues. Even the weather is getting in on it. While California burns with fires and the worst heat ever recorded, Denver is expecting record cold and snowstorms tomorrow (after hitting 101° yesterday). Here on Long Island, we’re certainly seeing more extreme weather all the time, as well. Surely you remember Sandy and all the destruction that it brought us.
Cold and snow. Do you remember those? It’s hard to imagine with all the horrors that 2020 has brought us, from Murder Hornets to CoVid-19, but don’t fool yourself; winter will be here soon. And while your car may be impervious to the coronavirus, it isn’t so tough against extreme cold, particularly if it’s a classic car, most of which were never built for extreme weather.
Here are some very important tips for your classic car, as well as your daily driver. Before you think, “This doesn’t apply to my baby. I keep her locked up in the garage all winter,” understand that most of these tips are even more important for cars that will be stagnant for the winter.
Oil — Check the oil level & make sure it has been changed recently. Consider changing to a thinner viscosity oil, particularly on an older engine. In cold weather, a thinner oil is better able to flow during cold starts, but may have insufficient viscosity when the weather heats up. No matter how many miles you put on your car, you should always change the oil at least twice every year for this reason.
Why is this important to a hibernating vintage car? In order to keep the circulation going and prevent bigger future problems, you should start your car once every week or two and, if possible, take it for a ride. Unless you’ve brought your car in to us at Long Island Classic Restorations (or elsewhere) in the past decade or so for an engine rebuild, your engine may be too weak to push heavy oil to the top and be counter-productive to your goal of keeping your car from having further problems.
Heating — Check it and make sure it's working correctly. It’s recommended that you get a cooling system and heater flush, along with a new thermostat for winter.
This tip is more for daily drivers than antique cars.
Anti-Freeze — Check the level and condition. When was the last time your cooling system was completely reverse-flushed, pressure-tested & refilled? If you are unsure of the strength of your coolant, stop by the shop at 994 Fulton Street in Farmingdale and we’ll be happy to check it for you!
Why is this important on a garage-kept classic car? Expansion and contraction. Keeping anti-freeze in your car will help to prevent the water in it from turning to ice when it gets really cold. When it turns to ice, the risk of massive radiator and heater leaks increases exponentially. Fresh anti-freeze also prevents corrosion, which is one of the cooling system’s biggest enemies!
Unless you plan to tow your car to us in the spring and get a complete (and expensive) overhaul of your cooling system, then you should drive it here now and get the preventive maintenance that it needs. You know that we’ll take good care of your baby; we always do!
Tires — Make sure tires have the proper pressure and a safe amount of tread. Also check for dry rot between the tire treads. In the past three decades, the manufacture of tires has moved from countries like the USA, Germany and Japan to places like India and China and the subsequent result is that the rubber used on modern tires does not last as long as it did years ago.
Why is this important on a garaged antique car? Dry rot. Frankly, the only way to prevent dry rot is to drive your vehicle regularly, but if you’re keeping it in the garage for the winter, this isn’t possible. Moreover, you don’t want to drive on old, dry rotted tires.
Other rubber parts — Belts, cooling hoses, brake hoses and motor mounts are all made of rubber, just like tires. And, just like tires, they tend to dry rot over time. Don’t cause a situation for yourself by allowing a rubber hose to break and create a severe overheating issue!
Filters — Along with your oil filter, check your fuel filter, air filter and cabin air filter. If you aren’t sure how to do this, please stop in at Cap-A Radiator and we will perform this service for you.
Fluids — Make sure that they’re all full and filled with the correct fluids. There are different grades of brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, motor oil and anti-freeze. Don’t use water in your windshield washer system.
In fact, why not bring your car by to change your oil and oil filter? We’ll check all your fluids, filters, belts, hoses and we’ll lube all the lube points on your classic car! Please make an appointment first at 516-293-9026.
Gasoline — Gas freezes! No matter what quality of gas you’re putting in your car, it contains water. With the extreme weather conditions that we’ve been experiencing lately. It’s in your best interest to add dry-gas to your fuel system. This can be found at any parts store. It’s simple to use (seriously, you just pour it into your gas tank). Follow the instructions on the bottle to determine how often you should do this.
Here at Classic Radiators and Heaters, we get gas tanks from all over the country that have been in parked cars for decades and all of them need a complete restoration. Why? They were ignored, and that’s all that it takes to destroy a gas tank.
Battery — Batteries are much more likely to fail in the winter than during nicer weather. It takes a lot more amperage to start a car when the weather is cold, so if your battery is borderline in the relative warmth of October, you’re going to be stranded somewhere by December and, as we all know, this only happens at the most inconvenient time!
If you feel that you have a weak battery, bring it by and we’ll check it out. Most batteries are good for only three to five years. We carry a full line of top-quality Interstate Batteries right here at Cap-A Radiator!
Let us help take care of your pride & joy!
Cap-A-Radiator offers complete mechanical repairs on everyday cars & trucks and upgrades on classic cars & trucks. This includes engines, transmissions, brakes, electrical, suspension, sheet metal & chassis repair. We are a registered New York State Safety & Emissions inspection station. Don’t forget to schedule your annual NYS safety inspection before time runs out!
Call now to schedule an appointment!! 516-293-9026