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Your Guide to Storing Your Classic Car for the Winter Season

2020 is coming to an end and it was been a wild year to say the least! Fall is here and winter is on its way. That means if you want to take your classic car or truck out for a final spin, there isn’t much time to spare!

When you have had your fill of cruising your classic this year and are ready to put your prized possession away for the winter season, we have some great tips to get your vehicle ready.

  1. Wash & Detail –

    Thoroughly wash your vehicle to get all of the dirt and road grime off. This includes giving the undercarriage a good once-over as well. After you feel you have the entire car cleaned, you want to add a good coat of wax to help protect it while in storage. You should also polish up all the chrome surfaces, but don’t buff off the chrome polish until you are ready to take the car out next season. Be sure to lubricate all the rubber parts with silicone grease to help them from drying out. Finally, you need to vacuum out and clean the upholstery. You don’t want to leave any crumbs behind that could attract any varmints.

  2. Store Indoors –

    It should be obvious that you want to store your vehicle in a safe and dry garage or storage facility to keep it out of harm’s way of natural elements, vandals or thieves. Place your vehicle on top of a thick sheet of plastic. Concrete can wick moisture from the ground that can eventually reach the undercarriage and other parts of your car. Especially if it is fresh concrete less than 2 years old that has not had time to fully cure. Either way, the thick plastic will help create a barrier between any rising moisture and your classic car.

  3. Grease & Lube –

    If your vehicle has lube fittings, carefully fill the universal joints. Then pack the front wheel bearings with fresh grease and give the suspension and steering some fresh grease as well. This is something that should be done as part of your regular maintenance routine anyway and this is the perfect time to do it.

  4. Bleed the Brakes –

    It is a good idea to bleed the brake system completely of the old fluid and replace it with new fluid. This is one of the best ways to combat brake system deterioration.

  5. Drain the Fuel –

    If you plan on storing your car for an extended period of time, 6 months or longer, you should drain the fuel system entirely. After draining the tank, you should then run the engine to make sure all of the old fuel is out of the fuel lines. Fuel can break down after 6 months or so and can cause some damaging effects to your carburetor and valves. If you only plan to store your car for a few months, then you can use a fuel stabilizer to delay the fuel from degrading.

  6. Change the Oil –

    Fresh oil will keep better during storage. This is of course another opportune time to take care of some regular maintenance. When you bring your vehicle out of storage it is a good idea to change the oil once again. Fresh oil is key to maintaining your vehicle’s performance and should never be skimped on.

  7. Drain the Cooling System –

    Remove all the water from the radiator and leave the petcock open and the radiator cap off so that air can properly circulate through the system during the winter. You should also remove the heater hoses and drain any water from the heater as well.

  8. Disconnect the Battery –

    Disconnect the battery and store it in a dry place off the floor. Attach a trickle charger to it so that it keeps its charge throughout the winter. If there is any corrosion build up on the battery terminals you should clean it off with a wire brush and rinse it with a mixture of baking soda and water. To help keep the terminals from corroding you can apply a thin coat of grease on the terminals to keep water from getting to the metal.

  9. Jack it Up –

    Jack up your car onto jack stands and remove the tires for storage. Leaving the car on the tires during storage can create flat spots in the tires and it is also unnecessary weight on your suspension. Let the jack stands do the heavy lifting during the winter. Stack your tires on their sides with a piece of cardboard in between them to help prevent scratching or scuffing the wheels and tires. It’s probably best to cover them as well. A garbage bag around each tire will do the trick.

  10. Depress the Clutch –

    If you have a manual transmission you can simply place a 2×4 against the clutch petal and the frame of the front seat. Don’t place it against the seat cushion as it might stretch it out and leave a lasting mark in the fabric or leather. Clutch plates are notorious for sticking together during storage.

  11. Last Minute Details –

    There are a couple other tips to help your classic car or truck survive winter storage. Roll down your windows just a little bit to let air circulate inside the car. This will help to prevent any nasty smells from forming. Place a few open boxes of baking soda in the car to help absorb excess moisture and also combat any odors. Cover up the carburetor with a plastic bag to keep any moisture out. Finally stuff a rag up the tailpipe to keep any critters from crawling inside your exhaust system. Just don’t forget to take it out after winter has passed. It can be an embarrassing reason why your car won’t start. It is a good idea to write down all the steps you took to prepare your car for storage and leave that list on the front seat. This will make remembering all the things you need to reverse come spring much easier.

  12. Cover Your Car –

    The final step is to cover your car to protect it 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. Polyester cotton blends are not so great as they trap heat and don’t breathe that well. They tend to trap moisture. Never cover your car with plastic. Condensation can form on the plastic keeping the water right against the body of your car. Make sure you get a material that can breathe.

If you have the time it is a good idea to run your vehicle at least once a month to keep everything lubed up and moving. Just make sure you top off the cooling system, check the oil and other fluids, fill up the gas tank enough and remove the rag from the tailpipe. Of course, you will need to repeat some of the steps above to put everything back into storage mode, but it’s worth the extra time and effort to keep your classic in tip top shape.

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