Winter Storage Tips
3 January, 2014
Some of us use our classic cars all-year round, but most take their classics off the road during the winter. After all, the roads are usually damp and covered in salt, which hastens corrosion. But it isn't just a case of parking the car in the garage and leaving it until spring. If your classic car is off the road, check out our winter storage tips.
You should ideally aim to get the car out for a good run when conditions are dry. This helps avoid tyre flat spots, keeps parts lubricated and stops brakes and clutches from seizing. Keeping insurance in place means your car is covered even when parked up. It's tempting to think that nothing can happen to it while it's off the highway, but sadly that isn't true. Fire, flood damage and theft remain potential issues.
Secondly, you should maintain a good anti-freeze mix, even if the car is stored in a warm garage. While freezing may not be a huge risk, coolant contains corrosion inhibitors which help prevent silt developing within the radiator and waterways. Silt build-up leads to overheating.
A trickle-charger can keep the battery in good shape and is essential on more modern classics. Problems can occur with fuel injection systems and on-board computers if the battery goes flat. Just getting into some classics like TVRs can be very problematic as the door locks are electrically operated. On older classics, it's sensible to undo and remove the battery clamps during periods of storage.
Don't be tempted to fire up the engine every few weeks if you're not going to take the car for a drive. Just pulling out of and back into the garage may actually cause more damage, as the engine oil will not get up to temperature. It will therefore hold moisture which can cause corrosion and hasten wear. It would be better to not run the engine at all. Revving an engine to get some heat into it won't work either, as the car needs to do some work to allow its engine to warm thoroughly.
If the car is reluctant to move, the brakes may have seized on. You should never leave the handbrake on if the car is parked up for more than a few days – use chocks instead. Brakes can still seize though, especially drum brakes. Jack the car up, remove the wheel and gently thump the brake drum with a mallet until the drum can be easily turned by hand. Make sure you're happy with the braking performance before driving too far. If the car pulls to once side, a wheel cylinder (drums) or caliper (discs) may have seized. Replacement or refurbishment will be needed.
Finally, consider how damp your storage is. A dehumidifier may help and they can be purchased for as little as £50. The garage should be ventilated, so don't block up gaps in old buildings.
Written Guest Blogger Ian Seabrook.