Improper winter storage can lead to expensive repairs come spring. ClassicCars.com gathered expert input on how to protect the aesthetic and mechanical components of collector cars
Phoenix, Ariz. (November, 2018) – ClassicCars.com, the preeminent authority on collector cars, has consulted experts in the field and put together a step-by-step guide on preparing a collector car for winter storage. With dozens of components sensitive to decay and wear, even while a car is sitting still, planning and proper preventative maintenance is key.
“Proper winter storage protects your investment while preserving that special car for future generations to enjoy,” said Roger Falcione, CEO of ClassicCars.com. “We see all too often how improperly stored cars deteriorate leading to costly repairs which sometimes bring the car beyond saving. A little bit of work now will save a lot of trouble a few months down the road.”
The following steps were put together by the ClassicCars.com team:
• Wash and detail the vehicle thoroughly. Apply a coat of wax and polish the chrome and other shiny bits. Clean the tires and treat them with a good non-solvent-based tire dressing. If the car has a convertible top, store it with the top up (otherwise the fabric will shrink), clean the fabric and treat it.
• Clean the interior. Vacuum it thoroughly to get rid of all those little crumbs and bits that can attract vermin. Polish the leather and vinyl. Get some packs of desiccant, available at the hardware store, to wick away moisture.
• Store the car indoors in a weatherproof structure on a concrete surface, never a dirt floor. Sweep and wash the floor before parking, then lay down a large sheet of plastic to serve as a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from coming up through the concrete floor and reaching the underside of the car.
• Change the oil. Used oil is full of contaminants and residue that can damage the engine if left in the crankcase. Always store a vehicle with fresh oil. As long as the car is not started during storage, you can keep that fresh oil and drive away in the spring – unused oil will not go bad. Check all fluids and top them off if needed. If the brake fluid is a few years old, you might consider changing that as well. Lube the front end and chassis as needed.
• Make sure the cooling system contains the proper blend of anti-freeze so it doesn’t freeze up, which can cause the engine block to crack. In very cold climates, you might consider using an engine-block heater just as you do for daily drivers.
• Put the battery on a quality battery tender. Make sure the device has an automatic shut off to avoid overcharging, which will damage the battery. If possible, take the battery out of the vehicle, and if the garage is unheated, bring it into the house for the winter.
• Add a fuel-stabilization product to the gas, then fill the tank to the brim. This will extend the usable life of the fuel while protecting the tank, fuel system and engine from corrosion. Take the car out for a 20-minute drive to circulate the chemical-laden gas throughout the system, then top off the tank again. The ethanol in gas attracts moisture, and the filled tank allows less room for moist air to collect.
• Jack up the vehicle and put it on sturdy jack stands – never use cinder blocks or any other type of make-do stands that could unexpectedly fail. There is some dispute over storing vehicles on jack stands over a long period because it could place unnatural strain on the suspension – decide how to approach this. One solution is to remove the wheels to take the weight off the raised suspension.
Raising the car off its tires keeps them from flat-spotting, but that’s not as big a deal with modern tires. There are also so-called tire cradles that can help avoid flat spotting; some folks use thick sections of corrugated cardboard. Inflate the tires a bit higher than normal and, if possible, wrap the wheels and tires in plastic sheeting. Always release the hand brake to keep it from getting stuck.
• Keep the vehicle under a high-quality cover, preferably one with a soft inside surface that won’t damage the paint. The cover does not have to be waterproof since the car is indoors; a cover made from material that breathes is preferable.
These simple steps will help cars spend more time on the road, and less in the shop come spring. Protection and preventative maintenance are a necessity for older cars which can often be sensitive to environmental changes. ClassicCars.com also addresses the age old question of whether you should start your car over the winter or not at this link: https://journal.classiccars.com/2018/10/25/to-start-or-not-to-start-that-is-the-question-for-winter-storage/
Stay tuned to ClassicCars.com in the spring for more car maintenance tips.
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, ClassicCars.com is home to the industry’s largest community of collector car owners, buyers and enthusiasts. ClassicCars.com is devoted to helping owners sell classic vehicles online. Featuring more than 40,000 vehicles for sale by private sellers, auction houses, and specialty dealerships around the world, ClassicCars.com is home to the world’s largest online selection of classic and collector vehicles for sale. For more information, visit www.classiccars.com.