30th October 2020

Top short-term storage tips from Footman James

While some classics are used all year round, 58% of the 1,107 customers surveyed by Footman James last year prefer to take their pride and joy off the road during the 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, residue and making sure the car is dry is one of the most important factors to consider when storing any car. Typically, unless your storage solution is dehumidified, ventilated and climate-controlled, the car will be exposed to the elements regardless of being under a roof. Any dirt or wet material on the car can cause rust, the barn-find kind, so best to put the hours in now to save any big bills or needing 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 a car 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 and 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 car up for winter, this can save you 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 car online via the DVLA website. Just make sure you re-tax the car 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 car 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 car. Consider keeping your car 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 car’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 aging, 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 of time 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 car properly, you shouldn’t need to start it. But if you do need to, remember to put any parts back on that you removed, like a battery, re-engage the handbrake and fully remove the car cover if you’ve used one.

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

8. Service it

Before you take it out of storage, consider booking an oil and filter service in 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.

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

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.

Further to my last post. Turning the engine over by hand if possible into another rest position every couple of months also allows the valve springs to decompress

Mart, 29/01/2022

If you are lifting your car onto axle stands etc to stop flat spotting tyres do not leave the suspension hanging on rebound stops or shock absorbers as the weight can deform the rubber bushes or even pull the shocker through the rubber over a period of time. Always support the hub if wheels removed, if wheels left on support the axle at least an inch from full extension. I turn the engine over by hand every couple of months so the pistons are not left on the same place reducing the risk of corrosion where the rings touch the bore. This also moves cam and alternator belts into another position. Mark a pulley with chalk to ensure it is not left in the same place.

Mart , 29/01/2022

I have had my Honda PC800 for 17 years now and do my oil and filter changes BEFORE laying up for the winter, when the oil is hot, after a run. This way sludgy deposits are cleaned out before they have a chance to settle and thicken during the winter months. I run the engine to circulate the fresh oil. (I do ride it during fine weather periods in winter - but never when they're chucking road salt about). I got 11 years out of my last (Yuasa) battery using a 'smart' (Optimate) charger connected full time during periods of non-use.

Beano, 22/08/2021