People have been collecting cars since cars have been built, so whether it’s a 1903 Model T or that classic 1964 ½ Ford Mustang they all come with their own problems. Some problems are mechanical and others are appearance issues. To keep your classic car in tip top shape requires a program of maintenance that all classic car owners tend to be very fanatical about. Let’s take a look at five of the more common maintenance issues faced by the average classic car owner.
Oil leaks: This is one of the most common maintenance issues faced by the classic car enthusiast, the 3 most common areas that leak oil on the engine are the valve covers, front crankshaft seals and the rear “main” seals. Here is a look at the basics of replacing them.
· Valve cover gaskets are usually easily replaced by removing the valve covers and replacing the old gaskets with new ones. Make sure that the old ones are completely removed from both the valve covers, and the surface on the engine heads where the valve covers sit. Another tip here is, since almost all of the older valve covers were made from thin steel, they tend to lose the flatness along the edges that they need to seal. If this is the case, take a small hammer and tap around the bolt holes flattening them back out to help them seal better. Tools you will need are a set of sockets, a ratchet and a putty knife.
· The front crankshaft or harmonic balancer seal is located at the bottom front of the motor and is a very common leak area. With a minimum of knowledge and tools it is relatively easy to replace. You will need a harmonic balancer puller to remove the balancer from the front of the engine after you have removed the holding bolt. After removing the balancer inspect it for grooves and crack. If the shaft area that goes inside the seal is grooved, you will need to buy a seal kit which includes a repair sleeve. Follow the directions that come inside the kit and carefully install the sleeve. Remove the old seal from the front of the engine by using either a seal removal tool, or a flat bladed screwdriver, and thoroughly clean the area that it was set in. Before installing the new seal, coat the rubber seal on the inside of the metal ring with a thin layer of grease to lubricate it. Place the seal into the opening at the front of the engine and using a hammer, gently tap it into place. Generally speaking when the metal outer ring is flush with the surface of the cover that you are installing it into, it is properly installed. Take the harmonic balancer and line it up with the keyway on the crankshaft, and slide it into place. You may have to tap it in with a hammer to make sure it is seated all the way. Replace the bolt and tighten it using a torque wrench, set to the car manufacturer’s specification. Many of these can be found at www.autozone.com.
· The other common leak is the “rear main” seal located at the other end of the engine, and requires substantially more work and knowledge to replace. There are 2 styles of seals, the single piece, and the two piece seal depending on make and model of the engine you are working on. The single piece requires removal of the transmission and the flex plate or clutch assembly from the back of the engine. The other requires removal of the oil pan, and the last cap from the crankshaft to replace. Both of these require a much higher level of mechanical skill and are perhaps best left to a professional mechanic.
Another area of classic car maintenance that always seems to be a concern among enthusiasts is the rubber seals that are found around the doors and windows of all cars. These seals keep out the elements and the noise of the wind as you drive down the road. These seals fall victim to wear and tear from constant use, and from drying out due to sun and heat. Most of the time these must be simply replaced with new ones, either from the original manufacturer if they are still available, or from an aftermarket supplier such as www.jcwhitney.com.
· The seals around the car doors are relatively simple to replace, by simply removing the old one and replacing it with the new seal. Using a putty knife scrape the old seal away from the door surface and use a rag soaked in denatured alcohol to remove the residual glue form the surface and provide a clean area for the new seal. Once installed, an occasional cleaning with a vinyl/rubber treatment such as www.armorall.com will keep your seal soft and supple for years to come.
· For the seal around the windows you more than likely need to remove the glass to replace them. To begin you will need to remove the inner door panel and the glass from the door you are working on. Most of the seals are held in place by being clipped onto pins, so these will need to be carefully removed so as not to damage the pins. Again new ones can be obtained from the manufacturer or from aftermarket suppliers. A light wiping of ARMOR All can help maintain these seals for years.
One of the most important areas of maintaining your classic car is that of appearance. There is nothing more important than keeping the shine on your classic car. This is by far the simplest part of maintaining you pride and joy.
· Routine washing using a mild soap such as the products available from www.lanescarproducts.com and a soft sponge or cloth, will remove the dirt and grime build up from the finish. Follow this with a coating of your favorite wax, such as the many fine products at www.meguiaurs.com and a good buffing either by hand or with an orbital buffer. This will both polish and protect your finish, giving you a beautiful shine you can show off every time you drive your classic car.
· The other thing that most classic cars have is chrome, miles and miles of it and maintaining it is as much a part of the routine care as washing and waxing the paint is. After giving your car a good bath use a product that is designed to clean and protect chrome such as one of the products from www.autogeek.net. Follow the instructions included with each product to keep your chrome rust free and beautiful for years to come.
These are but a few of the most common basic maintenance issues facing the owner of a classic car who wants to keep his or her baby looking like it just rolled off the show room floor. So dig in and try your hand at doing it yourself not only will you save some money but you will also have the pleasure of being able to say I did it myself.