How to Fix the 5 Most Common Causes of Classic Muscle Car Breakdowns

You buy a modern car because it’s reliable, but you buy a classic musclecar because it’s stylish, nostalgic and exciting.

While some vintage cars have great track records, you’re likely to deal with at least a few reliability issues and breakdowns unless you’re spending the kind of money that buys a Chip Foose resto-mod. Even high-dollar customs can exhibit issues from time to time, but, luckily, the same issues tend to affect most classics. Here are some of the most common and a few tips on solving them.


Electrical Issues

While the electrical system on your classic isn’t nearly as complex as that of a new car, it has probably suffered from being tinkered with by a few owners. Combine that with age, and you’re bound to face complications from a short or a blown fuse.

Have a professional check out the ignition timing on your engine if it’s not running right, or, if you’re up for it, invest in a manual and timing light. Also, keep a voltmeter handy.

Hot, Hot, Hot

DCF 1.0

Cooling systems in modern cars have come a long way. If you’ve got a classic musclecar that runs hot, you’re in danger of blowing a head gasket. That will keep your sweet ride grounded for a long time, but if you can spot the signs quickly, there are liquid gaskets that can resolve the issue.


If you picked up your vintage car from a cold state, or somewhere near an ocean, make sure you investigate it for signs of oxidization. Nothing will have you off the road faster than when the floor falls out of your car.

Part Availability

This isn’t so much any one issue as a ubiquitous situation that can occur with any classic musclecar. When the water pump on your 1964 Skylark Grand Sport breaks, you might not be able to just look it up — and this example isn’t even an obscure one. Better get familiar with the local junkyard.

Carburetor Issues

Classic musclecars don’t come with fuel injection unless you spend a lot of cash or discover a “fulie” ‘Vette in a barn. That means you’ll need to learn the dark art of carb tuning. Make sure to jet your carb correctly for your car’s intake and cam, and be careful about driving at higher altitudes.


The Classic Experience

Even though these things might seem intimidating, remember that many a musclecar owner before you has faced and overcome the same issues. They may have even written about it on forums — wink wink. Passing the test that is enduring breakdowns and scraped elbows is part of joining the classic car brotherhood, and it’s a brotherhood you can be proud to be a part of.

About the author

Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes about cars all over the internet, but muscle cars are his one true love.
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