Now Is the Perfect Time to Prepare Your Classic Car for a Road Tour

Paid article presented by Chubb.


It’s so close that you can almost taste it: your next road trip in your favorite car. Maybe it’s a fully organized rally or tour through an exotic setting. Perhaps it’s just a day trip through the countryside. We’ve been home for a spell, and now we’re ready to enjoy the open highway. 

A little garage therapy now can have your ride ready and sorted when the time comes for that big trip.

Chassis and Brakes

Let’s start with the brakes. Does the pedal feel firm and confident or spongy and weak? Is the fluid fresh? You know where we’re heading: It’s likely time to at least bleed the brakes with fresh, quality fluid. 

If the brakes pull to one side, then you need to dig deeper. Is a caliper hanging up or maybe just beyond its useful life? 

While you’re down there, how do the pads look? Plenty of friction materials? Do the lines look good, too, or is it time to replace 40-year-old rubber hoses with new ones made from braided stainless steel?


Now let’s look at the suspension at large. Does the ride height look correct? If it doesn’t, why not? Is it simply time for fresh springs or has something slipped out of place? 

How are the dampers? No, bouncing a corner isn’t an accurate test. If the shock absorbers are weeping or allowing the car to wallow, then it’s time to replace them. 

Let’s get the car on the alignment rack. Is everything pointed in the right direction? And do any issues jump out at the technician? Bushings look good? (They’re all present, right?)

How are the wheel bearings? Lubed and adjusted? Do the anti-roll bars rotate freely?

Engine and Drivetrain

How is your cooling system? Charging up a mountain, racing across the prairies, or sitting in traffic strains the cooling system a lot more than cruising around the block. Are the hoses fresh and ready for a trip, or are they old and about to give up? Are the fans and shrouds working as intended? 

How does the oil pressure look? Does the engine idle nicely and accelerate well without any issues or dead spots? When you turn off the engine, does it stop as ordered or does it diesel for a few? Does a compression check–figure less than 10% spread between all of the cylinders–confirm that all is well inside the block? 

How about that exhaust system? Any leaks? Anything banging around that shouldn’t be? 

When was the last time you changed the fluids, including the oil, gearbox fluid and differential fluid? Not every modern engine oil is backward compatible with older engines, but fortunately the market offers lubes and fluids that are classic-friendly.

How is your battery: pretty fresh or on its last legs? And is it properly tied down and sporting clean terminals? Does your car have a tight, healthy alternator belt and a happy charging system? 

How are the accessories? Do all of the lights work, including the brake lights? How’s the horn?

Insurance Coverage

What if something bad happens while you’re out on the road? And by something bad, we mean an accident in which vehicles are damaged or people are injured. 

Take a minute to make sure your car is insured for its replacement value with a specialty insurer experienced in underwriting classic cars. Some such insurers, like Chubb, have no mileage limitations to qualify for insurance as a classic vehicle, but you should confirm this with your insurance agent.

Specialized roadside assistance coverage is important as well.  Some specialty carriers, including Chubb, offer emergency roadside assistance coverage that connects you with towing firms experienced in dealing with classic and unique cars.

Interior and Accessories

Know where you’re going to spend a large portion of your trip? Yep, in the car’s cabin.

First, how are the seats? Are they comfortable and ready for this odyssey? Don’t let ripped upholstery, flat foam or loose mounts ruin the trip. All can be remedied in the garage. 

How are the other items that you’ll touch, like the steering wheel and shifter? Is everything tight and in spec, or is it time for new bushings or maybe even fresh equipment? 

Nearly everything we do today centers around our cell phones. Can you charge yours while on the road? 

Will the interior be cool or warm enough for your trip? You’re not making things worse by inviting hot drivetrain air into the cockpit, right? If you’re missing any plugs or seals along the firewall or transmission tunnel, replace them. 

One last thing: Those small interior rattles will only grow more annoying as you pile on the miles. Try to have those fixed earlier than later.

Exterior and Detail

Let’s get the car looking good for its time in public. But before we start detailing, let’s eliminate any operational issues. Do the doors and various lids latch as intended? Are they all properly lubricated?

How do the panel gaps look? Anything loose or about to become a big issue? If one is equipped, how is the convertible top? Could it use some attention or even replacement? 

Do the windows properly go up and down? Will they keep out the rain and wind as intended?

Now we can detail the interior and exterior, following the same steps discussed for show prep.

© 2020 This article is advisory in nature and is intended to be a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice. Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services. For a list of these subsidiaries, please visit our website at Insurance provided by Federal Insurance Company and its U.S. based Chubb underwriting company affiliates. All products may not be available in all states. Coverage is subject to the language of the policies as actually issued. Surplus lines insurance sold only through licensed surplus lines producers. Chubb Personal Risk Services, P.O. Box 1600, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-1600.

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