Now that the clocks have gone back, it’s time to buff the chrome, polish the paintwork and make your beloved classic car ready for hibernation.
Like a sleeping princess, classic cars despise the damp and cold of an English winter. They much prefer being tucked up under a breathable cover, in a well-ventilated garage waiting for the first glimpse of spring.
Preparing a vehicle for storage properly means it should fire up first time when you turn the key next spring. Get it wrong and there will be frustration and expense that could have been easily avoided in the first place.
Enthusiasts will argue over whether a fuel tank should be drained or left topped up to avoid condensation; it’s best to store a car in a heated building or a well-ventilated garage to avoid damp. We asked the experts for their advice…
So what do we recommend?
A trickle feed charger is vital for most cars, if the battery runs flat over the winter it can affect the engine control unit (ECU) and cause serious damage, even damage the battery. Then make sure the there is no dust or dirt on the bodywork because it will act as an abrasive when the cover goes on.
We recommend a lightweight, breathable cover that is preferably tailored to a specific car, or elasticated to fit snugly. Never use a car cover outdoors, however soft the cloth, as over time wind will rub the material against the paintwork.
Always clean and polish before your car goes into storage to keep the paint protected – use an air dryer to remove dampness. We always recommend dehumidified storage so there is no danger of damp. At home, a well-ventilated garage is best, preferably with a low-output heater. Leave a car window open slightly to prevent condensation inside and reduce the risk of odours building up.”
A wooden garage is more breathable than brick or concrete. Try to start the car at least once a month and go for a short drive that achieves full running temperatures. We would recommend toping up fuel in storage cars to reduce the risk of condensation in the fuel tank. Many modern supercars have Kevlar or plastic tanks, but classics have ones that are made of metal and can corrode from the inside.
We also recommend adding about 20 psi of extra pressure to the tyres of older cars. It hardens up the rubber and makes less liable to damage in storage. Rolling a car into a new-parked position prevents flat spots that might mean a new tyre is required.
There is a great tendency to put cars away for the winter and not use them at all. We are a great believer in driving them as often as the weather allows.
If you have to store a car long-term, then I make sure it is meticulously clean and properly serviced before it goes under a cover. I know I’m starting with a clean bill of health in the spring doing it that way.
If I’m not using a vehicle for a long time, I try and run the engine every month and engage a gear, It ensures the clutch doesn’t stick to the flywheel.
With any type of storage, it’s also best to leave the windows open by about half an inch to stop that musty smell that comes with cars stored for a long time.