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Springtime hot rod tune-up

Check this stuff now, not on the side of the road in July.
Check this stuff now, not on the side of the road in July.
Owen Ray

It seems like it is never going to stop raining in the Bay Area, but it is springtime, and that means it is time to knock the dust off your hot rod and get ready to hit the highway. Even if you have been a good greaser and you drove your ‘rod all winter, there are a few things that you can do to make sure you have a breakdown-free summer season.

1. Change all the greasy stuff. Even if you have been driving frequently during the winter, all of the puddles you banged through and condensation from short trips in cold weather are hard on your car’s lubricants. It only takes a few minutes to do an oil change and swap out the differential and transmission fluids, and it is well worth the effort to prolong the life of your drivetrain.

2. Clean all the dirty stuff. This is especially important to those of us who drive during the winter, and even more so to the maniacs who drive their hot rods in the snow. Pull your cowl cap off if you can and clear out all the leaves and junk. Yank off your door panels, and make sure that the drains are clear and there is not a bunch of mud in the bottoms of the doors so they don’t get rusted out. Clean out the trunk, pop the drain plugs out and hose the rockers out if you can. If you have one of those ratty, rusty, swiss-cheese cars, go ahead and ignore this step. Letting it go will only improve your super-sweet patina.

3. Grease all the squeaky stuff. You don’t want everyone staring at your car when you pull into the next car show because it sounds like your tires are full of hamsters. Your ball joints take in a bunch of water during the winter, so give them a good greasing to flush all that out to limit the embarrassing sounds to the ones that come out of your mouth after five or six beers.

4. Flush all the watery stuff. Yea, you can probably give your coolant 3 years/30,000 miles before you change it, but when your car is 40-plus years old, why chance it? Unless you are running some high-zoot coolant, it only costs a few bucks to flush it out. Even if the coolant looks good, be on the lookout for crusty hoses and little leaks that can turn a summer cruise into a steamy roadside campout.

5. Just check all the stuff. What better time than now to just crawl all over your ride and look for loose bolts, leaky hoses, and other stuff that is about to give up the ghost? For as much time as you spent looking at your car while chugging beers all winter, you can spare a few more moments to make sure it stays on the road all summer.

6. Can't do it yourself? Don't feel bad, there are some things that you just don't have the tools for and you have to farm out the work. When you need some body work done, door handles shaved or you need someone to swap your motor because you don't have a lift or a place to do it, hit up Marc Paul at Crown Customs. He is a super friendly guy who knows his stuff, and well, it's the only hot rod shop in San Francisco anyway! If you just need an alignment after replacing some crapped-out ball joints, give Tech-1 a call and see if Jose is around when you bring your car in. He knows the old school stuff, and he will do an alignment to your specs. But if you go and get your oil changed at Jiffy Lube, please turn in your greaser credentials to the guy who actually did the work.


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