As we begin to approach the winter months, the sweet, summer affairs with your vintage vehicles are slowly coming to an end. Temperatures are now too cold to justify journeys with the car roof down, and, as the weather turns, opportunities to take the car out for a spin are becoming increasingly few and far between.
When it comes to classic cars, style and aesthetics often take priority over practicality. As a result, packing your prized possession up for the winter is often not just as simple as storing it on the driveway.
And given the price of antique cars themselves, it makes sense to invest in preparing your vehicle well for classic car storage in order to ensure it is fully protected until the following year.
Read on for our list of 10 factors to take into account when storing your classic vehicle.
1. Deep Clean
Vintage car fanatics know that there’s nothing worse than putting classic cars into storage and then rediscovering them, realizing that general uncleanliness has turned into rust or mold.
When it comes to cars, especially old ones, any level of dirt, dust, or debris can turn into corrosion. Moreover, this damage becomes costly to repair in the future.
You can avoid this by giving your vehicle a thorough wash and polish, and applying a layer of protective wax before putting it into storage. However, If you have a soft top, make sure to leave it up. Folding it away during the winter months could increase chances of mold.
In addition, putting a box of baking soda inside the car is a good way to absorb unwanted smells. Furthermore, after washing your car, take it for a short spin to dry off the brake discs and prevent them from rusting.
2. Fill With Oil and Gasoline
More anti-rusting tips include filling your classic car’s engine up with gasoline in order to prevent excess moisture from building up in open spaces and causing oxidation.
To stop the fuel from hardening up, try adding some fuel stabilizer and then driving the car around the block once. This will let it spread throughout the system, before topping off the tank fully with gasoline.
Leaving old, dirty oil in a tank can also cause rusting, which is why it is also advisable to fill up with fresh, new oil before keeping a classic car in a garage.
3. Windshield Wipers
Make sure to lift your windshield wipers off the glass screen before putting your vehicle into vintage car storage.
Leaving them down means you run the risk of the wipers sticking to the glass over time. This can damage the rubber and make them unusable.
Even if the engine is turned off, car batteries will continue running on a daily basis. This is because small amounts of electricity continue to run throughout the vehicle. As a result, it’s best to take your battery out entirely if you’re keeping a classic car in a garage for the winter.
The optimum battery storage conditions are inside the house. That being said, if you do have to store a battery in the garage, make sure it’s not kept directly on the floor and place some wood underneath to protect it from the cold.
If you plan to run your car every now and then during the winter, use a cycling charger to avoid the risk of the battery discharging after not being used. Otherwise, this could result in permanent damage.
5. Cover Up
Regardless of what car storage ideas you have in mind, putting a cover on your vehicle can be a good idea to prevent excess moisture.
However, be careful of the material you are using to protect it. Plastic or waterproof materials can cause the equivalent of car sweat. This produces unwanted moisture that can cause rusting if left for long periods of time.
Classic car aficionados: your best bet is a breathable car cover which is ideally semi-tailored to the shape of your car.
6. Eye on the Tires
Long periods of inactivity can be confusing for car tires, as they are designed to move. In order to prepare them, start by pumping them up well, ideally to the maximum air pressure suggested.
After this, set about removing and cleaning each wheel nut thoroughly, making sure to use anti-seize grease on each of the threads.
In order to prevent the tires from flat-spotting, jack the car using axle stands to take the pressure off the wheels.
7. Check Fluid Levels
Just as with the levels of oil and gasoline, leaving empty spaces in antifreeze containers can also cause problems. Therefore, make sure that the liquid levels are topped off and that the antifreeze you’re using is at the correct concentration.
Likewise, when it comes to windshield washer fluid, make sure to top levels off and use fluid which is premixed correctly, or mix it 50/50 with distilled water. Remember to also top off levels of transmission fluid and brake fluid.
8. Protect From Unwanted Attention
Naturally, buying a classic car comes with assuming the risk that it will attract more attention than other types of vehicles. And unfortunately, paying for specialized antique auto classic car storage isn’t an option for everyone.
If you decide to store your car in a garage, you may want to consider blacking out the windows so that it is not visible from the outside.
Another wise investment, if you can afford it, is to install CCTV cameras or an alarm outside the garage, both to deter thieves and to provide proof of any trouble.
9. Choose Storage Space
During the winter, deciding where to store a classic car is one of the most important decisions to make. The best storage option for a classic car is to keep it inside a brick garage or a classic car storage facility, in order to guarantee consistency in temperature and moisture.
If you don’t have access to a brick garage, a pre-cast concrete or wooden unit is also a good option. That being said, you should also consider investing in a quality cover for your car.
If you opt for heated classic car storage, make sure to check the levels of humidity in the air in order to prevent rust. Ideal humidity levels tend to be around 45%.
Whatever you do, especially if your only option is to store your classic car outside during the winter, make sure you keep it out of direct sunlight in order to prevent the paintwork from fading in the sun.
Looking for affordable classic car storage? We pair garage owners with drivers looking for a place to store their vintage vehicles.
10. Clean After Every Drive
When the itch to take your vintage vehicle for a spin hits during the winter, by all means take it out for a drive, but make sure to clean it thoroughly after usage.
Ensure your drive is a minimum of 10 miles long in order to guarantee that all parts of the engine warm up and clear out any moisture.
Upon return, make sure to clean the car’s undercarriage with a hose in order to rinse off any salt that might have gathered from grit on the roads. And make sure everything is dry before putting your car back into storage again!
Despite not physically driving your vintage car as often, or perhaps not at all, during the winter months, they can often require almost the same levels of maintenance as during the summer.
Regardless of the season, however, the longer you are prepared to continue investing time and money into your vehicle -- which includes a classic car storage method that works for you -- the longer you are guaranteed to carry on reaping the benefits of such a timeless vehicle.