With summer over, it is time to put your toy away for winter. Many people think that you just park the car in the fall and return in the spring to start it up as if it had been parked for a long weekend. If only life were that easy. Cars are meant to be driven and classics are no different than any other car, so winter storage requires some special attention. We are going talk you through the steps to winterize your car.

Prep work is no fun, especially when you postpone the winterization until it is subzero and you’re in the garage doing work for next year’s fun, so Sharp Classics has laid out various plans so you can choose how much work you want to do in the fall to ensure your car will turnover in the spring.

Minimum Effort

Where to Store: Store your car in a dry, wood or brick garage with a concrete floor. If you must store it on dirt, place plastic under the car to reduce the water buildup from the ground collecting on the underside of your car causing rust. Put carpet or plywood under the tires to reduce flat spots in the tires.

Fluids: Top off all the fluids in the car— this means oil, gas, coolant, transmission, and brake.

Wash: Give your car a good washing to remove all grime and trapped moisture that could cause rust on the body and frame.

Seal it Up: Roll up all windows on the car and put the convertible top up.

Parking Brake: Leave parking brake in the ‘off’ position.

Battery: Unhook the cables from the terminals and wrap them in electrical tape.

Middle of the Road

Where to Store: Keep your car stored in a constant temperature. The last thing you want is your classic in a heated garaged for 5 hours while you’re working on something followed by 19 hours of freezing temperatures. The variation in the temperature and humidity can cause major issues with drying out the leather interior, rust formation, sticking clutches and brakes, and varnish buildup on fuel systems.

Fluids: Change all the fluids in the car—oil and filter, put stabilizer in the gas, coolant, purge the brake system with new fluid. You can skip the transmission fluid at this time if you want. Drive the car for 15-20 minutes prior to putting it away for the winter to circulate the stabilizer throughout the fuel system. Make sure the gas level is topped off to reduce the chance of rust forming inside the fuel tank.

Wash and Wax: Wash and wax your car. The wash removes the dirt and trapped moisture. The wax provides a protective seal that keeps water and other contaminants that could harm the body while your car sleeps over the winter. Open a baking soda box (leave the baking soda in the box-no need to spread it around the car). Put the baking soda in the near the center console and put another one in the trunk. This will help absorb odors and moisture during the winter months.

Seal it Up: Roll up all windows on the car and put the convertible top up. Put steel wool into the exhaust and intake manifold. This prevents rodents from crawling into the car. Make sure to leave yourself a note near the steering wheel so you remember to pull it out in the spring. You can leave Irish Spring soap on the car in or near the engine, trunk and interior to ward off rodents from eating through electrical wires. You can also place mousetraps around the outside of the car as an additional protection against varmints.

Tires: Overinflate the tires (to around 50 psi) to prevent flat spotting. Just remember to check your tire pressure before driving in the spring.

Parking Brake: Leave parking brake in the ‘off’ position and chock the wheels.

Battery: Unplug the battery, cover terminals in petroleum jelly, bring the battery in your house and put it on a wood platform.

Full-On Lock Down Mode

Where to Store: Off-site storage is a required for optimal maintenance of your car, because consist temperatures (ideally 65-75 degrees with 50% relative humidity) is necessary to reduce the likelihood of rust. Coincidentally, these temperature and humidity ranges are preferred year round and not just in winter. This is why off-site indoor storage is your best option for the winter where the car will be parked in a steady state of temperature and humidity.

Fluids: Change all the fluids in the car—oil and filter, put stabilizer in the gas, coolant, purge the brake system with new fluid. You can skip the transmission fluid at this time if you want. Drive the car for 15-20 minutes prior to putting it away for the winter to circulate the stabilizer throughout the fuel system. Make sure the gas level is topped off to reduce the chance of rust forming inside the fuel tank.

Seal it Up: Roll up all windows on the car and put the convertible top up. Put steel wool into the exhaust and intake manifold. This prevents rodents from crawling into the car. Make sure to leave yourself a note near the steering wheel so you remember to pull it out in the spring. Scatter mothballs on the ground near your car to deter bugs and rodents. Spray the window stripping with Teflon or silicone to prevent the rubber from sticking to the metal.

Tires: Put the car on jack stands to prevent flat spotting. Make sure to put a towel on top of the jack to prevent imprinting the frame. Put wood underneath the jacks to reduce chance of cracking the concrete floor. Lower the tire pressure to prolong the life of the tires.

Parking Brake: Leave parking brake in the ‘off’ position.

Battery: Unplug the battery, cover terminals in petroleum jelly, bring it in your house and put it on a wood platform. Hook it up to trickle charger.

General Notes:

Starting the Car while in Storage: Once the car is winterized, resist all urges to go out and start the car. If you do fire it up, you have awoken it from hibernation and will have to go through the entire winterization process again.

Car Covers: If you do cover your car, make sure you use a high quality breathable cover. Insurance: You can cancel liability and collision insurance while the car is in storage. Make sure you leave comprehensive insurance in place to insure your car from damage from theft, fire, vandalism, etc. By leaving some insurance in place, you do not risk a gap in coverage that could cost more money when you renew. Fortunately, collector car insurance is relatively cheap compared to typical auto insurance. It is for this reason, you are advised to leave the full coverage in place year round. In the event you do cancel your insurance, make sure you leave yourself a note to call your agent in the spring to avoid the chance of driving without coverage.

Ready to find your next classic car? Start with Sharp Classics. Start here.

BOTTOM LINE: Taking a couple of easy steps in the fall can save you hours of time and loads of money in the spring.

Leave a Reply

Feel free to include your website as it will appear in your comment allowing users to link back to your site.

Your Email will not be published but is required.