6th November 2023

Crucial tips for storing your vehicle this winter

While some classics are used all year round, most prefer to take their pride and joy off the road during winter months.

Storage preparation is crucial, and if not done with careful planning, can end up costing more than just an oil and filter service.

Here’s our rundown on how to tackle storage to preserve your classic.

1. Clean, dry and wrap it

Removing any dirt or residue and ensuring it is dry is one of the most important factors to consider when storing any vehicle. Typically, unless your storage solution is dehumidified, ventilated and climate-controlled, the vehicle will be exposed to the elements regardless of being under a roof. Any dirt or wet material on the car or bike can cause rust, the barn-find kind, so best to put the hours in now to save any big bills or the need to use a welder.

2. Tank it

Tank your classic with premium fuel and add an additive. While this subject is constantly quibbled between leaving with an empty tank versus a full one, it comes down to chemistry. Brimming your tank with fuel before you store it will mean that there is less air to contaminate the fuel thus adding condensation and water.

Fuel lines and your fuel tank will thank you for not having moisture (water) in there as well as adding a fuel additive.

3. SORN it

SORN stands for Statutory Off Road Notice. If you’re thinking of laying your classic up for winter, this can save you from paying road tax while it’s not on the road. Your SORN is automatically cancelled when you tax your vehicle again or it’s sold, scrapped or permanently exported. Simple to do, you can SORN your classic online via the DVLA website. Just make sure you re-tax before you take it out on the road again or you could face a £2,500 penalty.

4. Ventilate it

Once you’ve spent the effort setting your classic up in the perfect winter hibernation mode, you should consider that ventilation is one of the most commonly overlooked stages of storage. If the temperature decreases, the chances of your classic developing rust scars and perished rubber hoses, for example, rise considerably.

Ventilation doesn’t just mean the air inside the garage or lock-up, but also a cover for the vehicle. Consider keeping your classic in a well-ventilated indoor cover to protect it from dust and the elements. If you’re tight on budget, any breathable material will be better than nothing, even a dust sheet from your local hardware shop.

5. Lubricate it

Making sure that all your classic’s parts are treated and lubricated before short-term storage can prevent perishing. Treating all rubber seals around windows, doors and tops with silicone can help prevent cracking and ageing, while hinges on doors should also be given attention.

6. Chock it

When storing any car for longer than a week, release the handbrake and use chocks. When a handbrake is engaged for long periods it causes the brake disc and pads to stick together – a costly solution to fix when you come to move the car in the spring.

Instead, put chocks up against each wheel to ensure that the car doesn’t roll away while it’s laid up for winter, rather than using a handbrake. A cheaper alternative to chocks is cutting up some sturdy wood blocks in a triangle.

7. Don’t start it

If you store your classic properly, you shouldn’t need to start it. But if you do need to, remember to put any parts back on that you removed.

Open the garage door before you start your classic and once it’s started, make sure it’s warmed up to the right temperature to get the fluids circulated and warm.

8. Tyres and batteries

If you leave the tires of your classic fully inflated, the rubber will eventually become damaged if they have the vehicle’s full weight on them for a prolonged period of time, particularly for classic cars. You can either decide to remove the wheels completely or balance your car on axel strands to let some air out. For your battery, never put a vehicle into storage with it connected but use a trickle or float charger to make sure that when you want to hit the road again you aren’t left with a flat battery.

9. Service it

Before you take it out of storage, consider booking an oil and filter service with the mechanic or at home. Changing the oil is one way of ensuring that you clean out the pipes leaving your classic fresh and ready to go for months of happy motoring.

9. Final Steps

Your next step should be to remove the sparkplugs of your classic to help you prevent moisture getting trapped and causing corrosion or rusting. When thinking about covering up the entire vehicle, you need to use something made of soft materials to make sure that small particles do not rub against the paintwork and leave scratches. Cotton flannel fabrics are a good option for this as they allow air to circulate better; try to avoid polyester fabrics as they have bad fluid resistance and easily trap heat and moisture.

And that should be it! Roll down the windows if you have a car to allow air circulation, leave some boxes of baking soda inside to absorb moisture and stuff an old rag up the tailpipe to prevent any unwelcome animal guests. From here, it’s just a matter of waiting until the time is right to pull of the cover and get out on the road again. 

Do you have any more top tips for storing your classic? Let us know in the comments.

To find out more about a classic bike policy from Footman James and to get an instant quote online, visit our Classic Bike Insurance page.

The information contained in this blog post is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.

Motorcycle Disc Brakes but could work just as well on cars. Unbolt the calipers one at a time, leave the pads in or refit them after removal. Squeeze the brake lever slowly until the pistons extend a couple of millimetres from where they were when on the disc to expose a clean piston. The piston (s) shouldn't come out as the discs are only 4-6mm thick and you should have plenty of meat on the pads. Clean around the exposed piston and dust seal edge with your choice of appropriate solvent and a soft brush, I find a toothbrush is good. Cheap children's toothbrushes can be found in Pound stores in multipacks and can be easily filed or cut down to get into small gaps. Once all is clean, push the pistons all the way back into the caliper and refit the caliper. Now just leave it like that until you're ready to ride again. A few applications of the brake lever the day before your ride, tying the lever tight overnight is also a good idea. If you have a twin disc arrangement. After doing the first caliper, jam some thin wood or plastic spacers to stop the pistons coming out while you work on the other one, just remember to remove the spacers when you're finished. As well as keeping the pistons away from possible atmospheric corrosion, the brake fluid in your caliper that is returned to the master cylinder will tend to release its dissolved air and without the pads in contact with the discs, you won't get the spot pitting that often occurs when damp pads (you just washed the bike right) are left against the discs allowing localised corrosion cells to form, that's what causes those nasty black marks that you never get rid of.

ThreePotJock, 30/09/2023

Take the advice to 'Roll Down Windows for Ventilation' with caution. I have done this in the past and regretted it, the vinyl seats were covered in a green mildew which took ages to clean, also it allowed mice to enter and make a nest under the back seat, luckily no damage was sustained apart from them making use of the horse hair beneath for their nest. I keep the widows tightly shut and the interior has kept pristine, and consequently NO MICE!

Gaz, 27/09/2023

Make sure you check the vehicle in your garage frequently for mice. On several occasions, they have got into my engines and have caused minor damage. Peppermint oil seems to prevent their desire to return.

Mark, 12/01/2023