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How To Store Your Classic Car

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Tags: classic car, storage guide

Nothing can come between us and our classic cars. They’re part of the family; that trusted companion that gets us from A to B in style (while turning a few heads in the process).

So it’s only right we want the best for them.

Tucking them in at night is all part and parcel of the relationship, especially during the harsh winter months when the cold weather can play havoc with the roads and our companion.

So here’s our tip-top guide to storing your classic car.

Hibernation preparation
Unsuitable storage can be a costly business - we’ve all been there at some point. We think we’ve done enough to keep our pride and joy safe but we’re slapped with huge repair bills as soon as we bring it back out in the spring.

Machinery works best when it’s used, as you know, so getting a car back on the road after months out the game is always going to be tough. That said it doesn’t have to be a testing case of trial and error. 
Volkswagen Golf

With a little preparation - and elbow grease - we can go a long way to making the transition from storage to road a lot smoother, not to mention much friendlier on our wallets. You just need to know where to start.

Follow these 5 simple tips and you should be on the right path...

  • Give it a good clean inside and out;
  • Wax-polish the bodywork; 
  • Charge the battery; 
  • Coat the terminals with petroleum jelly;
  • Change the oil, filter and coolant.

Of course, you can always remove the battery if the car is going to be in storage for a considerable period of time.

But make sure you know the radio security code before you remove the battery, as not knowing will open up a can of worms further down the line.

Top Tip: A ‘smart charger’ is a great investment, particularly if you’re not sure your battery will stay charged. These only power a battery when it needs it and can be left connected without risk of overcharging.

If you want to go the whole nine yards, lift your car onto blocks or stands to raise the wheels off the ground as this will take pressure off the suspension and tyres, preventing them from deflating and wearing.

You should also leave the handbrake off as this can stick during a period of inactivity. Use wheel chocks instead to keep your car in place.

Where should I store my car?
A garage is the best place to store your car, particularly wooden or brick ones.

Pre-cast concrete units, on other the hand, are known to ‘sweat’ in cold conditions. One way to deal with this is to use an inflatable plastic tent, with fans to keep air moving inside. Turn these on roughly once a week.

If you do keep your pride and joy in a garage, you can afford to leave the windows open slightly so that it doesn’t go stale inside.

Cars left outside, however, are virtually impossible to protect from the elements. Temperature and humidity changes can cause condensation, while wind can cause rubbing - so make sure you wrap your car tightly in outdoor covers.

The bigger the better, in terms of covers, to make sure no nook or cranny, no matter how small, is left exposed. But there is no substitute for a purpose made cover.

Never use tarpaulin, polythene or anything that doesn’t let the car breathe.

Top Tip: If you cannot store your car in a dry, stable environment - especially for periods longer than a month - then it’s best to ensure it has a full tank of fuel as this reduces the space for water to condense.

Condensation can lead to corrosion, which can seriously damage the fuel tank itself and the fuel lines.

Don’t forget to turn it over now and again... Quick Spin
You should start the car at least once a month, just to get some oil circulating through the engine and to check everything is in working order. This will also help prevent battery death and give you much-needed peace of mind.

Take it for a quick spin around the block, weather permitting of course, to bring the engine to full operating temperature. Obviously don’t choose to head out in rain or snow, wait until it’s dry.

Top Tip: Remember to wipe off any road salt after going for a drive as this can cause corrosion and ruin paintwork.

But why stop at starting it up? You could even carry out a few other checks, like looking for damp, mould and condensation. If you find any of these things, put them right as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

Tests for getting back on the road
You must take care when the time comes to get your prized assets back on the road. You need to be 100% sure that everything is working as it should, otherwise you could be in for a nasty surprise when you jump back in for the first time.

Here are 5 tips for a safe return...

  • Check tyre pressures;
  • Adjust fluid levels accordingly;
  • Make sure the brakes are fully operational, including the handbrake;
  • Leave the engine running for a few minutes when you turn it on;
  • Go for a short drive and listen out for any strange noises.

If you’re still unsure about anything, book your car in for a service at your local dealership.

Top Tip: Take it slow. Historic cars can take a while to get back into the swing of things, especially after a few months off the road. Always warm up the engine before a journey and don’t thrash it too much.