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Wilson's Auto Restoration Blog

How to Properly Store a Classic Car for Winter

The snow has already begun to fall in the northern states from coast to coast.  The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting the 2019-2020 winter to be a particularly brutal season.  For those of you that have already seen the white stuff coming down, you may have already put your classic cars and trucks away for storage.

Here in the southern states, we are still experiencing warm temperatures and still have our rides out at the shows and cruising the streets.  We were just at the 2019 Goodguys Southwest Nationals in Scottsdale where the sun was shining and temps were still in the high 70s.

But these warm temperatures are quickly fading even in the southern states which means it’s about that time to put our prized possessions into hibernation.  To make sure your classic car or truck is kept safe from winter’s harsh elements we have put together a list of tips to follow to help your street machine hibernate safely during a long winter’s nap.

  1. Make sure you have a breathable car cover. Use it to protect from dust and any other elements from damaging your paint. Cotton flannel covers are preferred as they breathe well and are ultra-soft against your paint job. Some garages may not have a vapor barrier beneath the floor which can allow moisture to come up through the floor. Place a large plastic tarp underneath the car to help prevent the moisture from rising to the underbody.
  2. Disconnect the battery and store it off the floor. If you can keep it out of the cold your battery will certainly appreciate it. Otherwise you can attach battery manager that will sense when the battery needs a charge and will turn on automatically and turn off on its own after it has charged the battery.
  3. Fill the gas tank before putting your classic away for the winter and add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from breaking down. After adding the stabilizer, you are going to want to run the engine for a few minutes to make sure it flows through the carburetor and fuel injectors. Using premium fuel will also help to keep it fresh.
  4. Place a few moisture pads or a mini dehumidifier inside your car to help absorb moisture that can leave a mildew smell once the spring thaw sets in. Also, leave at least one window slightly cracked open to allow some sort of air flow. Don’t open it enough that a rodent could get inside…about a quarter inch should do the trick.
  5. Use some sort of rodent repellent under your hood and inside your car to help keep mice and other little critters from making a nest during the winter season. We have a great article on the different methods you can use to combat rodent infiltration. It is also advisable to put a rag into the exhaust pipe to discourage these little buggers from climbing into your exhaust.
  6. Make sure you have fresh antifreeze in your cooling system, so the liquid does not freeze and cause some major damage. You should also top off your windshield washing fluid as well.
  7. Change the motor oil and filter before putting your classic car into storage to avoid having a thick nasty sludge in your motor come springtime, you should certainly. You may need to change it again come springtime, but it will not be nearly as bad.
  8. Make sure the air pressure in your tires is overinflated to help protect from flat spots forming on your tires. You will have to redo the air pressure in the spring, but that is a simple task. You can take this a step further and set your car up on jacks and remove the tires to make sure that flat spots don’t form. Jacking up the car can also aid in relieving tension on the springs and other suspension components. Make sure the parking brake is not engaged as well.
  9. Give your car a good washing and then wax before the weather gets too cool. This will help to protect the paint. You may also want to protect the chrome with a wax or paint seal as well. This can easily be removed in the spring and will assist in keeping rust from attacking your chrome while in storage.
  10. Leave a list of all the steps you made to store your vehicle inside the car on your seat or dash. This will help you to remember what needs to be done come springtime. Otherwise you might end up trying to drive away on overinflated tires with a rag in your tailpipe. The list you leave will just be a friendly reminder.

We know that it is a bittersweet moment when you have to put your baby away for the winter but following these ten steps will keep your classic car or truck safe during the winter months and make waking her up in the spring that much easier.

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