Tag Archives: TLC

Auto Service Tips

You drove it when you were partying like it was 1999 (and in fact, when it actually was 1999), through the Bush and Obama presidencies, and to at least three new Batman movies. Today, you’re still tooling around with your vintage vehicle. At 10, 15, or even 20 years old, these beauties have earned their reputation for durability and charm, but when they start to sputter, head to the shop post-haste for some routine auto service.


As the owner of a vintage vehicle, your greatest (and most costly) repairs may relate to rust. All those years of service mean time for water to have collected in or on the car, creating the powerful oxidation reaction, which eats shiny exteriors and engines alike. Before you take your car in, check the body for rust spots, which are both unsightly and potentially indicative of greater problems throughout the car. Rust spots or bubbles in body panels may need to be sandblasted, trimmed, or replaced.

Inside the car, particularly if you don’t drive very often, rust may infiltrate the engine, transmission, or valve train. If you can get the car up on a lift, scope out the wheel wells, floor pans, and undercarriage for those telltale iron-colored spots. Make sure you have your auto service technician check the muffler, exhaust pipes, and shock towers thoroughly for rusted areas and recommend repair or replacement.


Another auto service tip for your vehicle concerns tires. If you’ve been driving this car regularly, you probably replaced your tires often to help with your gas mileage and to improve traction on wet roadways. If you’re pulling the car out of storage or simply don’t drive it as much, give the tires a good inspection. Rubber rots easily, and tread can wear down. Many technicians cite the “penny depth test” to help check the viability of older tires. Insert a Lincoln penny, head facing down, into the tire tread. If you can still see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to get new tires.

Routine Maintenance

Once you’ve covered your rust and your tires, you can move on to more routine maintenance. With a vintage vehicle, you need to be a bit more careful about fluid levels than you otherwise might. Change your oil every quarter and assess all your fluid levels and types: older models can call for special fluids, like a glycol-based brake fluid as opposed to a silicone-based one. Older mechanical parts have experienced wear and need more lubrication to function at the peak of their effectiveness, so compare fluid levels over time to check for leaks. Emissions standards change over the life of a durable car, so stay abreast of regular emissions inspections as well.

Vintage cars are nice because they can serve as everyday, seasoned workhorses as well as soon-to-be-classic showpieces. With a little attention and TLC, you can wait a long time before you put them out to pasture.