4 Critical Steps for Preparing for Winter Storage


Whether we like it or not, the changing of the seasons is upon us, and that means some of us are mentally preparing for the saddest day of the year – when we store our vintage toys in a seasonal warehouse.

It can be a tough day for a whole host of reasons, but a little stress and care right now can make spring even more enjoyable when you get your car out for that first drive.

Recharge (two ways)

Storing with non-ethanol fuel is best, but not everyone has access to it, or it may be expensive enough that it’s not in the cards right now. Regardless of the type of fuel, fill the tank to the top and add an appropriate fuel stabilizer. Most vintage fuel tanks are made of steel and are therefore very susceptible to rust, which can flake off and fill your fuel system with debris. Holy headache. With the tank filled, there is no room for air and therefore rust is kept at bay. Once you have stabilizer in the tank, be sure to run the car for 10-15 minutes to make sure it circulates through the entire fuel system.

The other “top” to think about is the condom. Although you’ll never put the top on for the summer, it’s in your best interest to store a car with the top up so it doesn’t shrink or get damaged from long-term storage when folded. This is especially important for plastic rear windows that lock into a shape when held in a particular way for too long. Replacing roofs is no fun, and you don’t drive anyway, so why not take the opportunity to get your roof back in shape?

Insulate your tires

wire wheel tires

Tires are made for driving, not parking. This is why long-term storage is likely to cause flat spots or dry rot of the rubber rings that we need so much. There are suitable products on the market that can help, but it’s just as easy to take a board of foam insulation and cut a few squares that fit under your tires. This will form a cradle for the tire and also prevent dirt or concrete under the car from sucking moisture out of the rubber, making them last longer.

If you want to take the extra step of moisture management, place a tarp or painter’s plastic sheet under the car to prevent the cold undercarriage from condensing any moisture that may rise from the ground.


motorcycle cover

If your wintering location has windows or is open on one side, be sure to use a good quality car cover. UV degradation can happen quickly when a car is parked in one place and sunlight only hits a specific spot day after day. Your seats, paint and trim will thank you for covering them, as they will also protect your precious vintage vehicle from scratches and dust.

Speaking of dust, make sure the car is clean before covering it. Really to clean. A cover can grind dirt and debris left on the car into your delicate paintwork. Also, remember that covers don’t do much to protect against dents, so make sure your car doesn’t become a shelf or a leaning place for other things in the garage.

Fresh fluids

Oil filling

At a minimum, your car should get fresh oil and a coolant check. Oil traps combustion by-products, and if it sits in the crankcase all winter long, you can end up with corrosion or deposits that need some serious work to get rid of. An oil change just before storage is cheap insurance.

The coolant must be properly mixed for the temperatures the car will see in storage so that it does not freeze. Freezing liquids can exert tons of force – enough to literally split your engine block in half. You can be sure with a simple tester for a few pounds, or if you’re really unsure and the coolant looks or smells dirty, a flush and refill might be your best bet.

While you’re looking at fluids under the hood, take a moment to inspect your brake fluid, as it can also absorb moisture. Flush with fresh fluid if the reservoir is anything other than a nice clear amber color.

Good luck. Spring will be here before you know it. (We hope.)

This article was originally published on United States.

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