If you’re the proud owner of a classic car, you’ll know that in the Autumn and Winter months, you’ll have to be especially diligent regarding its maintenance, as low temperatures and damp conditions can pose a serious threat.
With the clocks going back soon and the weather beginning to change, many classics will be placed in storage for safekeeping until more favourable driving conditions make their welcome return. While in storage, it’s crucial to optimise conditions in order to protect your vehicle from the elements and preserve that precious vintage appeal.
Let’s help make sure your vehicle is safe and sound this season with our top tips for storing your classic car.
The process to ensure the right storage conditions for your car during the autumn and winter months actually begins prior to placing it in storage.
Survey the space
Wherever you plan to store the car, whether it’s inside or outside, spend a moment making sure the space is dry, damp-free and clean, as any moisture could cause corrosion or mould.
Give the car a thorough clean, polish and wax
To protect the car from corrosion, make sure it’s free from any congealed dirt, which can be acidic and therefore corrosive over time. Once you’ve washed it, make sure it’s thoroughly dry as any moisture can cause rust to form. You should also lubricate any rubber parts to stop them cracking while in storage.
Open a window slightly
This will prevent any bad odour building up in the car while it’s in storage, as well as helping prevent mould with the presence of fresh air.
Pump up those tyres
When your vehicle is left stationary for a long duration, its tyres run the risk of losing their shape. To reduce this risk, pump up the tyres to the maximum recommended air pressure before it goes into storage.
Storage & Security
A garage can be the perfect place for your car to wait out the winter, provided you have the space. There are a few things you can do to optimise conditions for your classic if you’ll be storing it this way:
Cover your car
Regardless of where the car is stored, we’d recommend a cover as an essential. Don’t go for a standard tarpaulin, as these aren’t breathable, and will therefore cause condensation and mould. Instead, you should use a purpose-built cover that enables breathability.
Block off potential entry points
The last thing you want is for a family of mice to take up residence in your vehicle over the winter months. Seeking warmth, your classic might be an attractive winter retreat for a mouse or small creature, so it might be worth blocking the exhaust pipe with a cloth or wire wool and closing the air vents inside.
Make sure the garage is secure
There are bigger things than mice to keep out of reach of your classic. Thieves can spot an easy target, so visible deterrents like CCTV cameras and floodlights might make them think twice. The garage can also be added to your house’s alarm system, offering an additional layer of protection.
Make sure the garage is safe
Your garage is now locked up and equipped to deter thieves, but how safe is the car inside? Such a space often contains flammable materials or substances and electrical appliances, both of which can be a fire risk. Ensure the garage is clutter free, with flammable materials stored properly and any unnecessary electrical appliances switched off. A fire alarm is an excellent idea, especially one with a heat sensor, as this won’t be triggered by exhaust fumes but will alert you of a sudden surge in temperature. Have a fire extinguisher on hand too, just in case.
Control the humidity
Damp conditions can cause condensation and mould, so mitigating this in some way can be an excellent means of preserving your car. Air flow via the gap under the garage door, or a window kept slightly ajar – if secure to do so – can help, but a dehumidifier is ideal. However, if you can’t get your hands on one of these, don’t worry, as you can use silica gel pouches to similar effect. Place a few of these in the footwells to absorb moisture within the vehicle.
Take ‘er out for a spin
Provided the driving conditions are safe, one of the best ways of keeping everything in good working order over the autumn/winter months is to go for a short drive every couple of weeks. This way, you can keep the degradation of the fuel and engine oil at bay. Remember to make sure the car is cleaned thoroughly and dried before it’s placed back in storage. If the roads are gritted for icy conditions when you take the car out, use the hose to gently wash off any salt that’s accumulated on the lower parts of the car, and then dry it thoroughly.