Expert Tips

The SkillShack experts offer advice and tips to help you deal with common classic car maintenance and restoration problems.

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How to Correct Heavy Steering

Old, balding or incorrect tyres can make for heavy steering on a classic car – and correct pressures are important too. Note that radials are usually inflated by about 3-5psi more than crossplies. Beware of over-inflating tyres for lighter steering – this will lead to a lack… Read More

How to Lap in Valves

The valves’ job is to open to let fuel mixture in and exhaust gas out – but also to seal perfectly when closed so everything’s kept firmly inside the combustion chamber. The sealing surfaces can become worn, pitted, damaged and contaminated over time, which has a highly… Read More

Stuck Clutch

If your classic car has been laid up for a long time, there is a chance that the clutch may have ‘stuck’. The friction disc is held tightly between the flywheel and the pressure plate when the pedal’s released. When the car stands unused for a long… Read More

Exhaust Assembly: Grease or Paste?

It’s a question the SkillShack with Practical Classics team are often asked: when assembling a new exhaust, should you use an assembly paste or copper grease? Well, exhaust paste expands as it gets hot and dries out, thus guaranteeing no leaks even if the pipes are a… Read More

Steering Wobble

If your classic car steering wobbles, first check the condition of the wheels and tyres. They may be slightly distorted. Replace the tyres if they’re old irrespective of tread depth. Jack the car up and spin the wheels. Use a fixed marker to assess if the rims… Read More

Spark Plug Cash Saver

Did you know?… Spark plugs can last far longer than the stated service intervals suggest. In fact, if the engine’s running correctly they can last almost indefinitely. Check the gaps every 3000 to 6000 miles and clean them with a brass-bristled wire brush, if necessary. If… Read More

Distributor Maintenance Check

It’s important to keep the cam in your distributor lightly lubricated to prevent premature wear of the heal of your points. A light smear of grease is best, unless there is an oiling felt provided – which should be lightly oiled periodically. Put a dab of oil… Read More

Inertia Seat Belt Problem

If your classic car seat belt is reluctant to pay out, the inertia reel of the belt may be sitting at the wrong angle. It has two elements. One triggers in the event of a sudden movement of the belt. The other takes the form of a… Read More

Brake Bleeding Fault Finder

If you’re having trouble bleeding your classic car brakes, there’s a possibility that the nipples are open too far. A quarter-turn should be more than enough. If it’s still drawing air through the threads in preference to drawing fluid out of the system, then the fluid isn’t… Read More

Starter Motor Testing

If your starter motor is refusing to turn your engine over, first check the battery has sufficient charge and is in god condition. Next, scrutinise the ends of both battery leads, plus the engine-to-chassis-to-body earth straps. The wires can end up making very poor contact where they’re crimped into the… Read More

How It Works: Twin Cylinder Brake Master Cylinder

The principle of operation of a twin-circuit master cylinder is as follows: The pedal pushrod pushes the first piston, pressuring the first circuit. This pressure is equal throughout the system and not only operates the front brakes, but also pushes the second circuit’s piston forward in the master cylinder, operating… Read More

How to Check Classic Car Brakes

One of the best ways to preserve classic car brakes is to use the car on a regular basis. Mechanisms move around, cylinders scrape themselves clean, friction surfaces de-rust themselves and the system warms up, which drives out moisture. Dormancy leads to a raft of problems: be… Read More