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Getting your classic car ready for spring

Carlton Boyce / 29 February 2016 ( 08 March 2018 )

Get your classic car out of hibernation and prepare it for spring with our simple tips.

Man washing classic car with sponge and soapy water
A good clean and some basic maintenance will help get your classic in tip top condition

If, like me, Spring means being able to drive your classic car with a clear conscience, you’ll be scouring the weather forecast in the next month or so to make sure that there isn’t the slightest chance that they’ll be spreading any more salt. 

You might also be planning this summer’s classic car shows, juggling work and family commitments with the opportunity to spend a weekend in the sun ogling line after line of gorgeously styled metal.

In either case, you’ll probably also be thinking of dragging the old girl out of hibernation and into the watery winter sun to make sure that nothing has broken, rusted, or otherwise deteriorated since you put it away in the Autumn.

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First thoughts

I tend to check the fluid levels and tyre pressures first to make sure that nothing awful has happened to them in the preceding six months or so.

I’ll also look under the bonnet for mouse or squirrel damage as they love chewing wires, which can be a very good way of starting an under-bonnet fire. 

I’ll also give everything in the engine bay the once-over to make sure that nothing has come adrift or gone astray.

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Starting the engine

If you took my advice and bought a decent battery trickle charger, you’re halfway there because you won’t have to worry about not being able to start the car because of a flat battery.

First, though, I’d be tempted to disconnect the main HT lead from the distributor cap and turn the engine over a few times to build up the oil pressure before reconnecting the HT lead and starting the engine.

Let it tick over for a few minutes to warm up before slowly driving out of the garage to check the brakes work. Be careful, and only move at a very slow speed until you are sure that they’re working!

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Time for a service?

Whether you do it yourself or give the job to a trusted garage, now is a good time to service your classic car. 

The wise will time this to coincide with the MOT, meaning that you’ve only got one annual appointment to schedule rather than two.

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SORN and vehicle excise duty

You’ll probably have declared SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification) when you took the car off the road last year, so you’ll need to tax it now.

The whole process is best completed online (although you can still do it over the telephone or in the Post Office) and is very simple to do. You’ll have the choice of paying for it in full, or by a monthly direct debit.

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Elbow grease and some polish

Now is the time to give your car a decent valet

There is no need to buy anything too expensive but please don’t use washing up liquid in lieu of proper car shampoo as it contains salt, which is not something you want to dribble into every nook and cranny…

Hit the road

The prudent will take their recently awoken pride-and-joy on a short, local journey to make sure that everything is working well.

The rest of us will just jump into it and set off on an inappropriately long journey for the sheer joy of being behind the wheel again. If so, please make sure you’ve got decent breakdown cover, a credit card in your pocket, and a fully charged mobile phone to hand. With these three things you can take on the world.

Have fun!


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.