The Anti-Corona

It’s hard to sustain a state of panic, a sense of imminent doom, when the sun is shining, the breeze is warm – and you’re getting your classic car ready for spring.

This is a necessary and therapeutic annual ritual. Like the first green shoots and buds on the trees, it marks the end of the dead season and the beginning of a new beginning. We could all use a lot of that right now.

The basics first. Air up the tires, check all the fluids; a general walk-around and close inspection. Cars that sit for weeks and months have different needs – and develop different problems – than regularly used cars.<

For example, there’s more to check than just the air in the tires. Cars that are driven regularly usually wear out their tires before the tires age out. Cars that aren’t driven regularly often have tires with plenty of tread but hairline cracks on the sidewall and maybe also structural deterioration you can’t even see –  the result of age and oxidation of the compounds that make rubber pliable. Amazon.com Gift Card i... Best Price: null Buy New $25.00 (as of 11:14 EST - Details)

My car is driven maybe 500 miles each year. Its tires will never go bald . Well, maybe the rear tires will – from burnouts – but you get the point. Unless you drive your classic car at least a few thousand miles each year, it is very likely the tires you buy today will still have most of their tread a decade – or even two – from now. But by that time, they may no longer be safe to drive on.

If you see cracks, it’s a clue that it’s time for new rubber. Send the old ones to Valhalla via celebratory burnouts!

I next check all the lights. Head and brake and tail and turn. Hi and low beam. Make sure they’re all working before you go driving. Remember that the cost of a turn signal bulb is  much lower than a ticket from an AGW – or the cost of body and paint work for your classic car – and the cost of the hit you’ll take on insurance for being the cause of an accident that occurred because you though you signaled a left turn in front of that car coming at you but didn’t actually.

Oil and filter change. My practice is every spring, regardless of mileage. As with tires, the passage of time is the determining factor here. The oil does not wear out – certainly not after 500 miles (or less) of driving in a year.

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