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Community Manager

Your Definitive Classic Car Care Guide

So you’ve got a vintage car? Welcome to the club! In our quest to keep these pieces of automotive history alive, we’ve learned a few things about keeping old cars on the road in the modern age. That extends to helping you keep your vintage iron in top running condition. To make sure you’re ready for the road—and stay that way—we’ve put together this FAQ.


Here, you will learn:


New Driver

Cut-off switches: on a + ground system, like many older cars (my 49 Hudson), should the cut off switch be attached to the positive terminal?

Community Manager

That's a great question @49Hudson-! The switch should always be on the ground path of a vehicle, so in the case of your Hudson the ground path is the positive wire and the switch should go there.  

Pit Crew

One more very important suggestion for storing a car: put some mouse traps under the hood.  Rodents love to nest in engine compartments can cause a lot of damage to wiring, rubber hoses and upholstery.  Doesn't matter if the vehicle is stored in a shed or a "sealed" garage.  Those fury little buggers will find a way in, especially during cold weather!

Pit Crew

On older vehicles, when you turn the ignition off there is almost no drain on the battery, except maybe an electric clock or the dome light if you open the door.  Also, the battery can be disconnected if you are storing the vehicle for a period of months to prevent it from running down.

With late model computer-equipped vehicles, it is a different story.  When you turn the ignition key off (or use the "Start" button to turn the engine off), many onboard modules continue to draw a small current from the battery to keep their learned memory settings alive.  A keyless entry system will also remain active as will the anti-theft system.  Most modules go into a "sleep" mode after a certain length of time (10 to 30 minutes) to reduce the power drain, but even so the combined current draw from these various devices can exceed 20 to 50 milliamps, and may be as high as 300 to 400 milliamps on some vehicles. 


If a late model vehicle is parked and not driven for a week, the battery can be run down as much as 50%.  Let your car sit two or more weeks without being driven, and you may find the battery has fully discharged.


This is why the batteries in late model vehicles should be connected to a smart charger or trickle charger if they won't be driven for a long period of time.


Why not just disconnect the battery to prevent it from running down?


If you disconnect the battery on a late model computer-equipped vehicle, it can cause all kinds of issues.  Modules that rely on the battery to maintain learned memory settings or programmed calibrations can "forget" their settings.  This includes all radio channel presets, driver seat position presets, the operation of the climate control system, all-wheel drive control modules, body control modules, the PCM and transmission module, even steering angle sensor calibrations.  Some of these forgotten settings can be reset manually, or will relearn automatically as the vehicle is driven.  But others will not reset and may require reprogramming with a scan tool!  Worse yet, some modules that have lost their power supply will never wake up, requiring a new module to fix the issue!


For more information, see:




New Driver

These are spare Items I carry on a short or long road trip:

Length of heater hose, upper and lower rad hose, rotor and distributor cap, points and condenser, fan belt, power steering belt, one litre of engine oil, one litre of tranny oil, a spare modulator valve for the auto tranny, fire extinguisher, piece of vacuum hose, bottle jack, can't always trust the bumper jacks, small set of tools, spare rags and hand cleaner.

New Driver

Damn, just another reason for me to move out of the San Francisco Bay Area! I don't mind a nice cruise to West Sac to fill the gas tank, but since the speedometer on my wife's '70 El Camino 454 doubles as a fuel gauge, by the time I get home, I'd barely have enough gas to get back to the gas station again.

Pit Crew

I use camguard in everything I own. Flat tappet, direct bearing OHC and roller lifter motors. It was first developed to stop cam scuffing in Lycoming aircraft engines. It is great stuff!!  Definately check out their website.


New Driver

All very good info

I actually had the "summer blend" here in the ATL eat through the seam in my original tank of my '65. The problem? '65 tanks are not readily available even as a repop. While the '66 looks similar, it is four gallons larger, and the trunk floor if the 66 is shorter from the latch to the shelf. So while I now have a bigger tank, installation was anything but plug and play. 

We do have two stations, one around the corner from work, that sell non ethanol blends, but are only 89 octane.


Yes they will. My Dad gave me the '65 Galaxie that I own. When I picked it up, he mentioned that the heat didn't blow very well, I got suspicious. I got an electric plug in heater for the ride home to GA from IL. The whole ride home I had to smell rodent urine. Putting two and two together, I pulled the heater core from the firewall and took a bent coat hanger and started clearing the heater box with the fan blowing. I will just say that I am glad I was wearing a respirator and gloves because the blower and fan assembly work as well as they did when the car came off the line. I didn't just break loose a rodent nest. I demolished a rodent time share. 

You are right. Invest in rodent traps. I am buying a new heater core too. Why? Because I am more than sure that there is baked on nest material clogging it.

You just gave the best advice that anyone who has a two or three season vehicle should pay attention to.