Winterizing your Classic Car
– By Pioneer Auto MuseumThe warm days of summer and crisp days of fall are quickly coming to an end. It's time to winterize your classic car until the warm rays of spring once again grace the highways and byways that are perfect for cruising.
Each year, as winter draws near, owners of classic, antique and vintage cars think about how they can best protect their prized possessions while they are stored until the following year. Even for new cars, taking them off the road and letting them sit for three months or longer allows the effects of oxygen, gravity, and trace corrosive residues in the fuel, coolant and lubricants to more rapidly rust, oxidize, corrode, pit, crack and weaken vital external and internal surfaces. Any measures that the owners of these vehicles take must remove corrosives from the cooling, fuel and lubricating systems and apply protective or rejuvenating products to areas likely to undergo rusting or oxidation.
1. As gasoline burns, some of the products of combustion combine to form highly corrosive sulfuric acid which condenses on internal engine surfaces and is a common cause of exhaust valve pitting. Draining the oil from the vehicle after it has warmed up and replacing it will effectively remove corrosives that have accumulated.
2. Fill the gas tank to decrease the amount of water that may condense in the gas tank.
3. Replace other fluids such as coolant, brake, and transmission fluids to replenish the anti-corrosive properties they offer.
4. Disconnect or remove the battery and store in a cool, dry place. Preserve the battery by connecting it to a trickle charger, which will prevent self-discharge.
5. Wash and then wax the car with high quality wax to add a fresh layer of protection against the elements. Thoroughly vacuum and shampoo the interior to remove any food crumbs and debris that might attract hungry rodents seeking a winter snack. Allow the interior to dry thoroughly before storing the car with all windows closed tightly. Convertibles should be stored with the roof up to prevent permanent creases in the fabric.
6. Apply a water resistant tire protectant to tires and use an interior wax inside to reduce drying and cracking of surfaces. If you have the available space, mount the vehicle on jack stands to preserve shocks and tires. Unfasten the brake and over inflate the tires slightly, as they will lose pressure in cold conditions.
7. Cover the car with a breathable car cover to allow dry air to circulate and help to prevent mold.
8. If possible, store the car in a completely dry, enclosed, lockable garage and remove any valuable items. Many classic cars are driven infrequently and qualify for a reduced insurance rate, especially if they are stored securely over periods of time.
9. Dampness and mold can raid your classic car from the ground up through a damp garage floor. To prevent moisture from accumulating on the undercarriage, and you can't raise it on jack stands, lay down tar paper or a plastic drop sheet and park on top of it.
The best way to prepare and maintain your vintage car in winter is to take it to a facility which is in the business of storing cars. They can perform a maintenance process which far surpasses what you might do at home. Be sure they are bonded and insured to cover any loss or damage to the vehicle.
Whether you decide to do it yourself, or have someone do it for you, winterizing your classic car will add years of enjoyment to the time you spend on the road. By taking an afternoon to protect your classic against the elements, you can look forward to no surprises and a well running machine in the spring.