Time to put that classic ride away.
Well, the summer show & shines are about done, the cruises over and the weather is quickly turning from summer to fall.
If you live Forty degrees or more away from the equator, then most of us put our summer classics away for the next 4-5 months. A few simple measures will ensure that your baby is ready to go again in the Spring. The major enemy of any automobile’s longevity is moisture – not only due to body rust, but also corrosion to internal components. For this reason, most groups do not recommend starting the car for a few minutes every month. Doing so just pulls moisture out of the air as the components heat up and then cool off again. Instead, you might try with the following:
- Change the oil prior to storage. Oil absorbs moisture which is a natural byproduct of combustion. If dirty oil is left in the car, this moisture will evaporate out of the oil and condense on the engine internals which can cause corrosion. Also, dirty oil is acidic – why not store your car with nice clean oil?
- Increase your tire pressures to 40psi. This will prevent flat spots from developing on the tires where the car sits on the same portion of tire for the winter. Or, put the car up on jack stands and give the suspension a rest as well.
- Fill the gas tank with premium fuel and add a bottle of STA-BIL. A partial tank of gas leaves moist air in the unused portion of the tank which can corrode the inside of the tank. STA-BIL is a product that helps to prevent gasoline from “varnishing” or turning bad. The problem of gasoline going bad has increased with the added use of ethanol additives. On some occasions, gasoline can turn bad in just a few months. STA-BIL also helps to remove water from gasoline.
- Wash your baby. Tree sap, bird deposits and pollution can degrade the paint over the winter. If you have the time and motivation (and a warm place to do it), a fresh coat of wax is great for the paint over the winter.
- Clean up the interior. A good idea is to throw in some bags of silica gel or other descendent like those inexpensive bowl types used in boats, to help ward off moisture–there’s nothing worse than damp automotive carpet, either from a smell/mold standpoint, or moisture trapped beneath the rug, which often causes floorpans to start rusting. Also make sure you do the trunk as well!
- Before you put the car away, make sure you spend time cleaning out the storage area. In the case of a garage, sweep the floor, to make sure you get rid of any traces of dust, dirt, animals, insects or rodents, as the latter often like to make classic cars their home during winter. It’s also preferable to store the car in a place where it will remain relatively undisturbed during the winter months–someplace where the door isn’t being constantly opened and closed and daily driven cars aren’t regularly being parked in the same location. The latter is particularly bad, because if said vehicles are used in the snow and slush, parking them in the garage overnight with your pride and joy leaves excessive amounts of salt and moisture behind, which provide the ideal environment for things to start rusting.
- If the car is parked in garage with a concrete, gravel or dirt floor, a good idea is to place plastic sheeting, or at the very least, old carpet on the floor, over the area where your classic will be stored. This will reduce the risk of moisture rising from the floor, which can cause rusting on the car’s underbelly, exhaust, suspension, brake and driveline components.
- Disconnect your negative battery cable. If you are extra motivated, remove the battery and store it in a warmer area, like part of the house, apartment or basement, preferably on pieces of wood to reduce the risk of energy draining from it. Another good idea is also to put it on a trickle charger, to prevent it from discharging.
- Make sure and disengage the parking brake, otherwise (particularly if the storage area is very cold), the mechanism can bind over time and the rear brakes will lock, not something you’ll want to deal with when taking the car out of storage in the spring.
- The last thing you need to do, before locking the door and walking away, is drape the car with a good quality cover. This is one area where you simply can’t skip. Use a good quality, breathable cover that allows any moisture that gets trapped between the bodywork and the cover, to escape.
Well, that’s about it. If you’re like me, it’s now time to sort through all those pictures taken over the summer, plan a budget and time for some much needed repairs and look through the parts catalogs in search of an elusive part or the best deal. Next Spring seems like an eternity away, but it will be here before you know it! Enjoy your winter.