The winter feels like a complete enemy. It’ll be dark, cold, damp and have a gale blowing. So like many other classic car fans you’ll want to protect your cherished car from the worst the weather can throw at it.
The enemies to your car are salt, damp and mould on the cosmetic side, and moisture and seizure on the engineering front. So by putting your car into storage, you’ll keep it out of a corrosive atmosphere and be able to enjoy it as soon as warmer weather comes.
Yet for most of us, the types of storage available are what fit our budget rather than what fits our actual needs. Remember, shoddy storage can be worse than actually running your car through the winter in the first place!
So how do you best store your car?
Location: indoors is better than out! The drier the better too. The ideal is a temperature controlled, humidity optimised high security facility. If your budget doesn’t stretch to owning such a Bond-villain’s lair, then you can rent space in one of many around the country for between £150-250 per month.
Further down the pecking order, you could take on a council lock-up garage – these are less secure and not usually as dry as larger buildings, but you’ll only be paying £50-100 per month.
If you have the space at home, a timber building will provide a perfect environment to store your car, and add value to your property.
At the bottom of the list comes storage in the open on driveways, or even worse, in a field or on grass. Parking your car on damp ground will actively accelerate its deterioration!
Prep before storage
Cleanliness! Getting your car prepped for storage can take a whole weekend. Make sure you have emptied out all the contents of the car, the boot, the door pockets and glovebox. Then give the interior a thorough clean: small dirt particles allow moisture to form around them which gives rise to damp and mould.
Polish the glass inside and out, and then fully clean off the underside and wheel arches, then polish the paintwork, the chromework and wheels. The cleaner and shinier you leave your car, the less dirt there is on it to attract and retain moisture which will accelerate deterioration.
Fully servicing your car before storage is a great idea. Oils laden with impurities from a summer’s running can be changed, again reducing potential deterioration over winter. Think about your engine, gearbox and axles as a minimum.
You can smear some petroleum jelly over battery terminals if you must, but many owners now choose to install a battery conditioner which monitors and recharges the battery keeping it tip-top throughout the winter and beyond.
Opinions vary about how much fuel to keep in the tank on a car in storage: if you have a more modern classic with a plastic fuel tank, then you can get away with leaving the tank pretty much empty and replenishing in the spring. You’ll avoid the fuel stored in it going ‘off’.
If you have a steel fuel tank, then brimming it helps avoid internal condensation and corrosion. The downside is that modern petrols go ‘off’ so you may need to put a storage additive (available from Millers Oils) into it, or consider draining and replenishing come the Spring.
Finally, before putting the car away, pump the tyres up to the ‘Maximum Inflation Pressure’ displayed on the sidewall to avoid flatspots. Leave a note on the dashboard reminding you to let the tyres down before you drive next Spring…and you’re done.