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After a joyous summer of driving, it’s that time of year again when classic car owners need to start thinking about storing their classic car for the autumn and winter. This is an essential part of looking after a classic car, and will help to prevent corrosion that could affect how it looks and performs, and also help you retain some its value.

For those new to classic car ownership, there’s a lot to learn about storing and maintaining a classic through the winter. Here, we give you a step-by-step guide to the process, as well as tips on maintaining a car while it’s in storage so that it’s always ready to go on those rare dry days.

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What to Do Before Storing a Classic Car

Before your car goes into hibernation, there are few things to do to prepare it. This will not only help to prevent corrosion and the build-up of fusty odours, but will also make it easier to maintain between now and spring.

Here are our essential top tips for preparing your classic car for hibernation.

Check that the Space is Right for Your Car

Most classic car owners park their classics in a garage, shed or outhouse over the winter to protect them from the elements. Wherever you plan to store yours, make sure the space is clean, dry and damp-free before parking your car, as any moisture could cause corrosion or mould.

If all else fails, you could invest in a high-quality and bespoke cover for your car. Though not ideal, these weather-proof covers will protect the paintwork from moisture, especially if you invest in a good quality one that’s built specially to fit your car.

Give the Car a Thorough Clean, Polish and Wax

If you want to protect it from corrosion, you’ll need to make sure your car is completely free from dirt, salt and moisture. That means giving it a thorough clean and waxing the paintwork to protect it.

Classic car owners will be no strangers to taking care of their car’s paintwork, so we won’t go into the nitty-gritty of washing, waxing and polishing here. We will say, though, that it’s absolutely vital that your car is completely dry before it goes into storage, as any moisture could cause rust when it’s left to stand for long periods.

You should also lubricate any rubber parts if you can, to stop them perishing.

Open the Windows to Ensure Good Circulation

To prevent bad smells gathering in the car when it’ stood for weeks at a time, it’s always a good idea to open the windows to let fresh air circulate. Leaving the front windows slightly ajar will make all the difference to how fresh the cabin stays, so you won’t have to put up with any bad odours when it’s time to drive again. Fresh air is also important in helping to prevent mould.

Remember though that mice and other small animals can get in through the windows so make sure there’s no crumbs or dirt in the car that will attract them.

Another top tip – if you’ve got a convertible then store it with the top up, as this will help it to keep its shape and stop the material from shrinking.

Disconnect the Battery

Car batteries will slowly eke-out power when they’re not in use, so it’s a good idea to disconnect it to preserve its charge. Failing that, you could start the car every few weeks and run it for 10 minutes to charge the battery, or use a smart charger which will monitor the battery’s power and give it a small charge when it needs it.

Keep the Car Out of Direct Sunlight

Is the space you’re storing your car in exposed to direct sunlight? If so, you’ll need to cover up the paintwork to prevent it from fading in the sun. Older car paints, such as those used on classics, are susceptible to damage from direct sunlight, so you must cover up your car if it’s exposed to daylight, even if the sun’s only on it for a couple of hours each day.

The easiest way to protect the car from the sun’s rays is with a cover. Just make sure you choose a breathable one that’s made for your car, otherwise, it might not offer complete protection.

Lift Up the Windscreen Wipers

The wiper blades will collect moisture if they’re left to sit on the windscreen, and this can cause problems when the temperature dips and the wipers freeze solid on the glass. To prevent this, just lift them up or remove them altogether if you plan to cover the car.

Leave the Handbrake Off

Handbrakes can seize on older cars due to rust, so leaving it off will make sure it’s driveable when you feel like taking it for a spin.

If your storage area is on a slope, put chocks behind the wheels to keep the car stationary, or position the car on jack stands and remove the wheels altogether. This is actually a good idea, as it will also prevent the tyres from forming flat spots or bulging.

How to Maintain a Classic Car in Storage

Once your car is laid-up and ready for winter, that doesn’t mean your work is over. You’ll need to maintain it regularly to make sure it stays in a driveable condition, and ready for those dry winter days when you want to head out for a nice drive.

Here are some of the things you should do to maintain your car through the winter:

  • Check the fluid levels regularly: Switching on the ignition when your classic car is low on fluid could cause catastrophic engine damage, so make sure you check the fluids regularly, including the oil, coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid and transmission fluid. You should also make sure that the coolant/antifreeze in the system is winter-ready, so that it can’t freeze when the car is stood for long periods.
  • Treat rust spots with quality lubricant: A lot of classic cars have minor rust spots, but these can easily worsen if left unchecked. When your car is stored for the winter, apply lubricant regularly to slow down the spread of rust and help prevent further corrosion.
  • Run the engine every couple of weeks: Starting the car every couple of weeks is a good idea, as it will recharge the battery and allow fluids to circulate through the engine. It also gives you peace of mind that your car is ready to go when you feel the urge to drive it.
  • Clean it after every drive: If you do decide to take your car out for a spin in the winter, it’s important to clean it afterwards. Even on dry days, salt from roads can get on the undercarriage of your car, and this could cause all sorts of problems if left unchecked. Wash the sills and undercarriage with a hose, and try to dry off any moisture before putting it back in the garage.

Simoniz car care products can help you look after your car, whatever age it is. To find out more, visit our homepage today.