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Winterising your Classic Car

In this blog im going to go through some of my tips for winterising your classic car over the coming months. This is a guide only and will reflect on those more who wish to store their classic cars over the winter period, than those who use their classic cars on a daily basis even in winter!

Most owners of classic cars usually have a garage or a car port to store their beloved car in most of the year. If you are intending on leaving your car for the winter duration then this is an ideal home, for those that dont have one of these available at home, check with family or friends to see if you could borrow theirs for a few months. Follow the the points below to help set your car up for long term storage.

Before storage

  1. Select a dry location for storage a garage is ideal, minimum would be a car port.  Concrete flooring is best at keeping away moisture. If you must store your car on a dirt floor, place a plastic barrier under the vehicle, and place carpet pieces or plywood under the tires.
  2. Give the vehicle a good wash/wax. Putting on and removing a vehicle cover will lead to unwanted scratches if the car is dirty.
  3. Fill the fuel tank.  The fuller the tank, the less room there will be for air, which carries moisture that can lead to fuel contamination and possibly rust within the tank.
  4. Give the car a general service and change the oil and filter right before putting the car into storage. The clean oil will reduce the risk of harmful contaminants working away at your engine during hibernation — and you’ll be ready to go in spring.
  5. Check the antifreeze, you can do this really easily with the cotton bud test. Take a cotton bud, use it to get a sample from your radiator, pop it into a freezer bag and put it in the freezer over night, if it is frozen the following day you need to change your antifreeze. If you change your anti freeze, make sure you run the engine so that the water pump moves the antifreeze around the engine, block, and heater systems.
  6. Add air to the tires.
  7. If you’re storing your car offsite, some insurance companies require you to report the address of the offsite location. Check with your insurer to determine your policy’s requirements.

When storing

  1. Try and put the car into the garage nose first, so that the exhaust is pointing out, come spring you want the cloud of dust and fumes to go outside not choke you inside.
  2. To help keep insects and vermin out of the car, put a plastic bag over the air cleaner/air inlet and exhaust pipe(s). You also can cover these with aluminum foil and tape securely. Place mothballs in the tailpipe and around the outside of the car, or insert steel wool in the tailpipe.
  3. Place the vehicle on jack stands, use the chassis and or axles. This step helps avoids tire flat spots and adds longevity to the suspension because it is not supporting the vehicle’s weight during storage.
  4. For your battery, providing it is not required for imobilisters etc, disconnect the battery by removing the negative cable first, if your car does require power for an imobiliser etc then try and find a storage place that has power so that you can connect a trickle charge, this will as its name suggests trickle charge into your battery and will keep all your electrics in power. Additionally if you want to start it a few times in the winter you don’t have to reconnect and disconnect each time.
  5. Close all of the windows, and raise the soft top if it has one, this will help to keep dust, vermin and most insects out of your car, additionally if you have a soft top, it will help to stop it forming cracks in the folds.
  6. If the vehicle will be exposed to freezing temperatures, be certain no personal items that may freeze or burst are left in the vehicle, ie water bottles.
  7. There are varying theories about periodically starting the vehicle during winterisation. Unless you get the engine up to operating temperature for a good 10-plus minutes to burn off the water vapors that initially develop at startup-cold operation, starting is not a good idea. Anything less will leave water in the combustion chamber and all exhaust components.
  8. Providing that your car is in a secure place, leave the car unlocked, this helps to avoid stiff locks which may become solid through lack of use, its also worth leaving the bonnet on the latch and the boot unlocked as well. Come spring you want to be able to get in without any problems.
  9. If you have a car cover place it over the car, this will help to keep the dust off, and add a small amount of extra protection.

Bringing your classic car back to life

  1. Unless you have had the battery on trickle charge, charge the battery for a solid 24 hours. When reconnecting the battery to the vehicle, attach the positive cable first.
  2. Once your car is uncovered, inspect it for any signs of insect or vermin damage.
  3. It’s a good idea to check for floor leaks, check all fluid levels, and check the tire pressures.
  4. Remove plastic bag (aluminum foil) from over air cleaner/air inlet and exhaust pipe(s).
  5. Apply the brakes ensure they work and that you have a good pedal. If your car still has steel brake lines these can rust out and leak, and vermin can chew through the rubber brake hoses.
  6. Start the car up and check for any fluid leaks.
  7. Give it some extra time to warm up, and check the lights, horn, etc., while the temperature begins to rise. Drive it slowly for a mile or so. Some components such as transmissions and rear-ends require movement for full/proper lubrication.
  8. After driving a bit, check it again for leaks, etc.
  9. Your car cover may have become dusty over the long winter months — give it a good cleaning according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

I hope this little guide has been of use to those of you wishing to winterise or store your classic for the long term.

Happy Classic Motoring


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