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How to Care for Your Classic Car during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Spring is finally here and usually that means its time to wake up our classic cars and trucks out of hibernation.  Time to get them back up and running and show them off at car shows and cruising Main Street.

2020 is a quite a bit different than past years.  The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone hunkered down in their homes and social distancing themselves from friends and neighbors.  As restless you may be, and anxious to get back to car shows, this is our new reality for the time being.

Back in March, we wrote about many classic cars shows cancelling due to coronavirus.  Knowing we all had to stay home, we also came up with a list of things for classic car enthusiasts to do while social distancing.

Your classic car or truck might just be coming out of winter storage, but it can’t just let it sit still once you have gotten it road ready for the year.  Southern states have had a jump on the rest of the country for warm weather, so if you are up north and just awakening your classic, we definitely have some tips on getting your classic car out of winter storage.

Once you get it moving, you’ll want to keep it moving.  Cars aren’t meant to sit for long periods of time.  We would like to share some tips and tricks you can use to care for your classic car during the pandemic.

1. Start it and move it periodically

While there might not be anywhere in particular to go, you should still take your classic out for a cruise around town.  We recommend doing this at least once per week.  At least fire it up and cruise around the block.  At a minimum, let the car idle and get to operating temperature and then back it down the driveway a few times.

By warming up the engine, you help fluids last longer and minimize the chances of gaskets and rubber parts from drying out.  Starting up and running the engine also helps keep a good charge on the battery.  Just make sure that you don’t start your car with the garage door down.  You want plenty of ventilation when your motor is running to avoid getting sick from exhaust fumes.  That’s why a nice cruise is just what the doctor ordered… You get outside, rolldown the windows to get fresh air and you are away from crowds.

2. Add a fuel stabilizer and grab a trickle charger

Gasoline degrades over time, and gasoline isn’t going to last more than a few months before it starts degrading.  One thing you can do is add a fuel stabilizer, like STA-BIL, which can extend the life of the fuel.

One of the riskier things we all have to do is go to the gas station.  So many people touch the gas pumps that we all need take precautions when pumping gas.  An easy way to prevent spreading germs is to keep your hands clean at gas stations.  You can simply wear gloves while you fill up. However, if you clean your hands immediately after removing the gloves you still risk transferring germs and viruses on anything you touch.  Use a disinfectant on your hands in addition to wearing gloves when possible.

3.  Clean your car inside and out

Classic cars and trucks are made out of many different types of materials like metal, glass, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather and fabrics.  Studies of the coronavirus show that it can remain on some materials for 3 days or longer.  Experts cannot even guarantee that it’s not longer than that.  Knowing what we know, all we can do is take every precaution and clean surfaces that could have become contaminated and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your car after use.

We recommend cleaning your classic with products you have used before and already know are safe to use on sensitive materials like vinyl and plastics.  If you are going to use a new type of cleaner, it is best to test it on an out-of-sight spot to see how the material reacts to the cleaner.

It’s best to empty out the interior the best you can.  Anything that is not “essential” should not be kept in the car.  Items like spare change, CDs, sunglasses, etc. probably could be left at the house so there isn’t a chance of them becoming contaminated.

Be sure to vacuum your carpets and upholstery as well.  Be sure to get deep into the seat crevices and other hard to reach spots.  That goes for vacuuming under the floor mats as well.  Be sure to remove the mats and clean them thoroughly after driving your car.  There are new findings that suggest the coronavirus can be spread via contaminated shoes.  We remove our shoes before entering our house just to be safe.

Disinfecting should be your last step so you can leave your car knowing it is safe and virus free.  Again, be careful to test sensitive materials if you are using a disinfectant that uses a lot of alcohol or other strong cleaning agents.  It is best to regularly clean your rags and cloths, so you know you aren’t just spreading dirt and germs around.  If any material you are cleaning allows, let the soap and disinfectants sit for a few seconds before wiping it off so it has time to fully decontaminate the area.  Much like they are asking us all to wash our hands for 20 seconds.

There are lots of parts of your car that get touched more than others.  It’s amazing how many things can and do get touched in a classic car or truck when you think about it.

Pay special attention to these parts:

  • Interior and exterior door handles
  • Truck bed handles
  • Gas cap
  • Steering wheel
  • Gear shift knob or handle
  • Parking brake
  • Seat belts
  • Sun Visors
  • Air vents
  • Turn signal and windshield wiper controls
  • Radio buttons or touchscreens
  • Rearview mirror
  • Seat adjusters
  • Arm rests
  • Cup holders
  • Glove box
  • Electric window buttons or manual cranks
  • All switches on your dashboard like climate control, hazards, etc.
  • Oh yeah, and the keys themselves.

This is a strange time in history we are all living in and we all hope it ends as soon as possible.  In the meantime, we hope you take the steps necessary to keep your family safe and healthy.  Be sure to focus on some of the good things happening too.  Like the fact that you can still take your classic for a cruise with the family, roll down the windows and enjoy some clean fresh air.

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