For many classic car owners, the perils of harsh winter road conditions plus the possibility of rust from road salt means one thing: It’s time to store their vintage vehicle. Use the following tips to ensure that your pride and joy survives its hibernation in top form. They’ll make it much easier to bring your baby back to life when better weather arrives, too.
There’s No Place Like Storage
A climate-controlled storage facility or a well-insulated and ventilated garage are the best places to store your classic car over the winter. The controlled environment will help keep humidity at bay, providing fewer opportunities to develop rust and corrosion.
If you have no choice but to store your vehicle outdoors, a high-quality car cover is a must. Simply wrapping your classic car in a blue tarp won’t offer the moisture-blocking protection that a superior car cover offers. You can find these covers at most auto supplies shops in a wide variety of sizes and shapes.
Keep your vehicle insured while it’s in storage, too. In the event that anything happens, a good insurance policy covers your losses. Look for a company that offers insurance specifically for vintage vehicles. The Hartford offers discounted rates for AARP members and provides classic car coverage, as do some other reputable providers.
Pre-Storage Wash and Wax
Make sure it is clean both inside and out. Washing your vehicle beforehand gets rid of various environmental contaminants that could eat away at the paint finish as your vehicle sits. Freshen up the interior with a thorough cleaning, too—not only does this leave it spotless for your next jaunt come springtime, but it helps reduce the chances of vermin sneaking in for want of a few food crumbs.
Give your classic car a good waxing in order to shield the paint finish from any contaminants during storage. As Consumer Reports notes in its wax-buying guide, test out your new wax in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire vehicle.
Protection From Rust
The last thing you want to see after several months of storage is rust. WD-40 lubricant works remarkably well at inhibiting rust formation on metal surfaces. A liberal application on exposed metal surfaces within the engine area, as well as other portions of the vehicle where exposed metal is present, provides a protective film against rust.
Stabilize the Gasoline
Over time, the gasoline inside of a classic car can break down into varnish, which has the potential to clog up portions of the fuel system, including the carburetor and fuel pump. To make matters worse, the ethanol found in most modern blends of gasoline has the ability to break up this varnish, making it much easier for the fuel system to become clogged up. Ethanol also has the ability to deteriorate gaskets and seals made before the widespread use of the additive in gasoline.
Additives like Sta-Bil or dry gas help keep fuel relatively stable throughout long storage periods. Available at most major auto parts stores, these additives prevent gasoline from breaking down into varnish, keeping it fresh enough for use for periods up to a year. Don’t forget to keep your gas tank topped off. Doing so helps ward off moisture and corrosion that could otherwise form in a partially empty tank.