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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Classic Car More Efficient and Dependable

Anyone that has owned a classic car or truck can tell you they are known to be temperamental machines.  Owning one takes a lot of tender loving care to keep them operating efficiently.  Here is a list of 10 things you can do to help your prized possession run better and be more dependable when you’re out cruising.

Don’t skimp when buying tires.
There are not many parts of a vehicle that play a bigger role in safety than tires.  Tires are responsible for helping you to brake well, accelerate and give you grip in the turns.  If they are worn out or under-inflated then not only are you running a risk of having a flat, but your gas mileage is also going to suffer. Even worse you could be causing permanent damage to your suspension. Temperature changes happen throughout the year so be sure to regularly check your tire pressure for optimum handling and gas mileage. We wrote an article on where to buy tires for classic cars.

Replace your plugs.
If you want your classic car or truck to run its best, then you want to always have a clean set of spark plugs.  Spark plugs are the key to properly igniting the air/fuel mixture flowing through your engine’s combustion chambers. Your engine will simply run cleaner and more efficiently with a fresh set of plugs. The result will be more power produced.

Replace your air filters.
The ability to take in clean air is imperative to your classic car’s performance. Just like your body needs to breathe freely to run a marathon, so does your vintage vehicle. Dirty, clogged filters will reduce you fuel efficiency and create other issues like a rough idle. Replace your filters often so your car can properly breathe.

Change out the oxygen sensors.
You need to maintain the right oxygen to fuel ratio.  Just about every vehicle built after 1980 have oxygen sensors installed before and after the catalytic converter to monitor exhaust flow. These sensors determine whether your car is feeding too much, or not enough fuel based upon the amount of oxygen in the air. A bad sensor can cause your car to consume much more fuel than necessary. It’s a good idea to have then replaced after hitting 100,000 miles regardless of their performance.

Replace the fuel filter.
Similar to the way air needs to flow freely, your fuel needs the same freedom to flow.  Sediment in your gas tank is pretty much unavoidable. Eventually it is going to make it to your fuel filter which will restrict your gas flow or stop it all together. Make sure you replace this filter often. They are inexpensive but can make a huge difference in overall performance.

Update the gauges.
Original gauges are only going to stand the test of time for so long before they start to give inaccurate readings. While it might not cause too many issues if it was the speedometer that went bad, having the temperature gauge go out on you can cause some serious problems. Reliable gauges help you to identify any mechanical issues early. If you aren’t able to upgrade the existing dash cluster, maybe consider installing some new gauges in another location so you can keep a close eye on your vehicles performance readings.

Is your ignition system on point?
Many cars made in the mid-70s and beyond were created with a points ignition system. These systems are less than desirable because they require a continuous cleaning and adjustment routine to keep your car running smoothly. The points can deteriorate over time and will need to be replaced. Instead you might want to switch to an electronic ignition system. They are much more reliable, provide a much smoother start up and also provide better fuel efficiency.

It’s all about the fans.
Mechanical fans and idling do not mix. Mechanical fans rely on engine speed to keep things cool. On the other hand, electrical fans just need electricity. If your classic does not have an electrical fan system, do not fear. There are inexpensive, bolt-on systems that are easy to install. So, whether you are stuck in gridlocked traffic or out cruising Route 66 the fan will always keep your engine at the optimum temperature. In addition, the electrical fan system frees up horsepower since the engine does not have to drive the belt for the mechanical fan system.

Convert to disk brakes.
If you haven’t already, convert the brake drum system for disc brakes. Not only are disc brakes much safer they are also much easier and cheaper to maintain. If you plan on making your classic into a high horsepower street machine, then disc brakes are an absolute necessity. Also having a single master brake cylinder is a bad idea. If it happens to leak or fail your entire braking system could fail. Make sure you have a dual master cylinder system in place to separate the operation of the front brakes from the rear. That way if one fails, you still have the other system to rely on. After all, stopping is pretty important



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