11 classic tips before you store your car for winter
Classic motorists come in all shapes and sizes. Where one chooses to store his valuable classic for the winter, other drivers use their old motor the year round. We’ve got some tips for both to get through the cold without to many problems. We’re starting with a short checklist for those that put their classic away each winter with some handy tips for all classic drivers.
Some of the tips below are actually routine maintenance, but with the prospect of colder temperatures it’s a smart idea to do these jobs now.
01. Check your brake and clutch fluid. The hydraulic fluid used in most brake- and clutch lines is hygroscopic, which means it actually attracts and absorbs water. These water crystals can freeze at low temperatures causing all sorts of problems and danger. Flushing out the system and changing the fluid before the real cold sets in is always a good idea. But remember, only work on brakes when you know what you are doing.
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The big freeze
02.While your changing liquids, it’s a good idea to check your radiator coolant. Although most coolants are quite sufficient for moderate climates, readers in more severe climates (anything below -20c) should check the quality of the coolant. Freezing can lead to cracked or split hoses, or even cracked cylinder heads and engine blocks. While your at it, don’t forget to change your wiper fluid for the winter type. The summer version is not frost resistant.
03.Check all drainage points in your car, including those in the booth and the doors. Standing water can freeze easily over night and can even deform bodywork. If you want to be really thorough, remove the doorcards and give the doors an extra coating with a rust-repellant like waxoyl or fluid-film.
04. Make sure your car is lubricated well. Especially with the older cars that have a lot of grease nipples it’s very important to grease regularly. Any metal covered with grease will not rust.
So you’re the type of person that only lets his car out on a shiny day? That means your car is stored during the darker months, and sometimes it means it’s dormant for months at a time. Nice and dry, in a safe place. Or is it? Because even inside there are some things to keep in mind.
05.A lot of people are in the habit of covering up their car with a sheet or tarp. Sounds like a smart idea as you keep dust and grime away from your bodywork. But a simple cotton bedsheet is very susceptible to moisture and before you know it you’ve covered your car with a semi-wet rag. A plastic tarp is hardly any better as condensation gets stuck underneath the plastic. A special purpose-made car cover is more expensive, but in the end it is the more sensible solution. Can’t afford a car cover? Unless your car is stored in a humidity and temperature controlled garage, you’re better off not covering it.
06. Before your car goes into storage, make sure it’s properly washed, dried, and preferably waxed. The wax keeps rust at bay and protects your paintwork. Caked on dirt (check the wheel wells) is a recipe for rust, so make sure everything is removed.
07. Top off your gastank to prevent rust on the inside. Are you storing your car for a longer period of time? As in, more than a year or so? Make sure to add a stabilizer to your petrol, or top off the car with special long-life petrol.
08. Tyres don’t respond well to prolonged storage, and the weight of the car can cause flat spots. Especially on older radial ply tyres. Wood spoke wheels like the ones found on pre-war cars need to be rotated regularly. If possible, put the car on axle stands, with the wheels off the floor. If that’s not possible it’s a good idea to move it a few inches back or forth every week or so. Not possible? Increase the tyre pressure to prevent flattening off.
09. Be thorough in checking over your car before it goes into storage. Check under all the floor mats, and make sure everything is bone dry. If any of the floor mats are wet or even slightly damp, make sure you dry them properly before putting the car in storage.
10. Change the engine-oil and oil filter. New engine oil lubricates better, and protects the inside of your engine from rust through condensation. If you want you can also squirt a small amount of oil on your pistons, by removing the spark plugs. Turn the engine over by hand a few times to make sure the oil is spread throughout the combustion chamber.
11. Disconnect or remove your car battery. This reduces the chance of the battery draining and of any short circuits. It might be a good idea to put your battery on a charger with maintenance function, so you can be sure your car wil easily start by the time the weather improves. Especially the older 6 volt batteries tend to lose their charge over time.
We’ll be back later with some tips for the hardcore classic drivers: what to do if you drive your classic year-round through all kinds of weather.
Disclaimer: Working on your car can be dangerous. Please use proper judgement, and abide by the safety regulations of all equipment you are using. The articles on Classic Proof are meant to inspire and we are in no way liable for any damage to people, animal or property.
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