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Detailing a classic car can be a time-consuming challenge, but it’s a labor of love for their owners. Acres of shining chrome and mirror-like body panels make any vintage vehicle stand out. Below, you’ll find three essential tips and tricks to keep your classic car looking like it just rolled off the lot.

1. Car Covers and Garage Storage

Purchasing a car cover that is made specifically for your classic car is one of the best things you can do to preserve your car’s paint and overall appearance. Although there are many types of car covers, you’ll probably want an indoor cover to prevent any potential scratches or marks. This type of cover is soft and won’t damage the paint, even if a bit of wind picks up. Keeping your car’s exterior clear of any dust or debris will allow you to use this type of cover year-round without fear of creating a blemish.

That said, garaging your classic car offers you the best of both worlds: It will be guarded from the elements and from thieves. If you live in a damp climate, you should also look into buying a dehumidifier to prevent excess moisture from causing your car to rust while it’s garaged.

2. Determine Your Car’s Finish

Most cars built prior to the early 1990’s have what is called “single-stage paint,” a type of paint job that does not include clear coat over the car’s paint color. If this sounds like a recipe for fading, it is. To protect the original finish on your car, you should respray your vehicle with a base coat.

Waxing, polishing or even simply cleaning a classic with single-stage paint is a precarious process. For example, when waxing a red vintage car with single stage paint, you’ll likely notice a small amount of paint rubbing off onto your waxing pad. Knowing what type of paint and finish your classic has will prevent you from going too far into the paint when polishing. The last thing you want to do is wear through the thin paint layer and expose the primer (or metal) underneath.

3. Remove Contaminates and Oxidation Before Waxing

Depending on the condition of your classic car’s paint, it’s a good idea to remove all contaminates and treat any oxidization that has occurred over time. If your car’s paint appears shiny but is rough to the touch, it needs to be treated with a clay bar and polish. If the paint is dull to the eye, it will need to be gone over with a buffer. Before you begin buffing, you should determine how much paint depth you have left; over-buffing could go through the paint, and there’s no going back from that.

If you feel at all uneasy about putting a buffer to your classic car’s finish, contact a professional. If you do apply a clay bar and/or buff out your car, always follow up with a layer of wax to protect against further damage to the paint. Keeping up you car’s paint with regular cleaning and waxing will help you maintain that show-car shine.

These vintage vehicle tips and tricks are just some of the ways classic car owners can stay ahead of the never-ending job of maintaining the look and finish of their vintage ride.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on vintage car maintenance tips and tricks, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

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