5 Steps for Classic Car Maintenance During Show Season

Close up of a beautifully restored 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible, as seen at a car show.

Spring is classic car show season. 

If your classic's been in the garage all winter and it's time for a tune up, here's how your Trusted Choice insurance experts recommend getting everything ready for the show in style, in just 5 simple steps!

1. Build Your Arsenal.

If you'll participate in collector car shows on an ongoing basis, invest in quality maintenance tools that will make your prep work easier. Winter is the time to plan ahead.

During the winter, find a reputable technician and stock up on the following, if you haven't already:

  • Vacuum cleaner with crevice tools and brushes
  • Soft cleaning brushes and old toothbrushes
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Flathead screwdriver and cloth for hard-to-reach spots
  • Carpet stain remover
  • Upholstery shampoo or leather cleaner/conditioner
  • Tire cleaner/protectant
  • Glass cleaner
  • Canned compressed air
  • Bucket
  • Two wash mitts (one for wheels and one for body)
  • SOS pads, or similar soap-in steel wool, for tires
  • Cotton towels
  • Orbital buffer
  • Car wash solution
  • Wheel cleaner and whitewall cleaner
  • Clay bar
  • Polish
  • Wax

2. Check the Engine and Fluids Before You Begin.

Do the dirty work. All of the items below need to be completed first. 

  • Tire changes
  • Oil changes
  • Carburetor adjustments

The spotless detailing can come after.

3. Clean Everything - Every Last, Tiny, Little Thing.

Whether you, a good friend or a local detailer does it, you need to get every last spot when it comes to detail work. 

Here's a handy checklist of what you should check at this stage:

  • Engine and air filter cleaned and polished to a shine
  • New belts and hoses
  • Clean fluids
  • Battery and leads clean and well-attached
  • For the wheels:
    • Chrome or aluminum cleaned, polished, and sealed
    • Whitewalls scrubbed
    • Tires cleaned and sealed

Don't forget about the interior:

  • Dash, console, and armrests cleaned and polished
  • Chrome details scrubbed and shined
  • Vents dusted with cotton swabs and cleaner
  • Carpets cleaned and vacuumed
  • Upholstery shampooed
  • Leather cleaned and conditioned
  • Pockets and crevices dusted
  • Trunk cleaned and vacuumed

4. It's All about the Shine.

Getting your classic to shine is an essential last step. 

Here are six ingredients for perfect collector car shine:

  1. Paint in good condition, with minimal oxidation: Wash your car every week so the paint keeps its shine.
  2. Remove contaminants: Dust, tar, bugs, etc. all eat away at your paint and dull the shine. You cannot wax over contaminants. Remove them, then wax.
  3. Polished perfectly smooth: Polishing removes nicks, swirls, scratches, and rough patches caused by road wear and storage.
  4. Glazed to a high gloss: A good glaze fills in  imperfections in the paint.
  5. Protected with synthetic sealant: Synthetic coatings are five to ten times more durable than carnauba waxes. This means better protection against Mother Nature.
  6. Waxed with natural carnauba wax: Wax has no cleaning properties, it only shines. It adds warmth and life to your paint color and provides the perfect finishing touch to make your car stand out from the crowd.

5. Go to Your First Show of the Season (and Every Show After!)

Now that your classic is gleaming brighter than ever, you can show up to the car show with confidence. 

Remember to call ahead to register, if necessary, and check into any hidden fees or parking requirements prior to arrival. Shows can be cancelled without much notice due to inclement weather, so always double-check the ones you'll attend!

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