We all hate to hear after a long summer of cruises, car shows, and races that it’s time to winterize your classic car. With these easy steps and a Ground Up Winterizing Kit, storing your car for the winter becomes a much less daunting task.
In this article, we’ll go over what steps you should follow to properly winterizing your classic car. We’ll look at what you should be doing before, during, and after winterizing your car, as well as providing a few tips and tricks to make this process as pain-free as possible.
Before You Winterizing Your Classic Car
1. Location, location, location.
Before you start doing anything to the car itself we recommend finding an adequate storing location. Try selecting somewhere that is dry and dark. Preferably a place with a concrete floor, as concrete is one of the best surfaces to keep moisture away from your vehicle. If you don’t have access to a facility with a concrete floor, be sure to place a plastic barrier under your vehicle to keep the moisture at bay. Place carpet pieces or pieces of plywood under the tires to keep them from sinking into the dirt/ground underneath.
2. Shine ‘em up!
Give your car one final wash down & wax before putting it away into storage. Washing & waxing your vehicle will ensure that your car doesn’t get unwanted scratches from putting on and removing your vehicle’s car cover.
3. Top off your tank.
That’s right, be sure to fill your tank with fresh gas (preferably premium or high-test fuel) and add a fuel stabilizer as well. Be sure to run the vehicle to get the fuel stabilizer into the carburetor. The fuller the gas tank means the less room there is for air in your tank. Having air in your tank carries moisture that can lead to fuel contamination and possibly rusting within the tank.
4. Check your fluids.
Right before winterizing your classic car, be sure to clean/change the oil and oil filter. The cleaner the oil, the less the risk of harmful contaminates destroying your motor during its winter slumber. Also, doing this before winterizing your car means it’ll be ready to go when spring comes.
5. Fill up those tires.
Bring the pressure in your tires up to your vehicle’s recommended PSI levels. This will ensure that your tires don’t get flat spots during the time in storage.
6. Don’t freeze your lines.
Be sure to check the antifreeze levels in your vehicle to prevent any freezable liquids from freezing in your vehicle lines during winter.
7. Make sure you’re covered.
Not all locations and insurance companies require you to report the location of your car’s storage unit, but some might. So be sure to check with the company that owns your storage facility and check with your insurance provider before winterizing your classic car.
While Winterizing Your Classic Car
We know this one to most is considered self-explanatory, but be sure to close all of your windows. Leaving your windows open is like leaving an open invitation to vermin and insects to make your car their new home. Just don’t do it.
2. Don’t let the dark become damp.
Place baking soda packets in the dark interior sections of your car and in the trunk area. Baking soda will wick away any moisture that tries to accumulate in the dark areas of your vehicle reducing the chance of rusting. We list baking soda as its a more common item to have around your house, but we have found that the product DampRid works much better and is cleaner as you can throw out the entire bucket at the end off the season.
3. Elevate your vehicle.
To avoid flat spots on your tires and alleviate any stress on the suspension, its recommended to raise your vehicle up onto car jacks or jack stands while winterizing your classic car.
4. Keep the vermin out.
Cover up your vehicle’s air cleaner/air inlet and exhaust pipes with a plastic bag, aluminum foil, or other household materials. This will keep those pesky little critters we’re all so fond of from turning your vehicle into it’s new home. It is also recommended to place mothballs in and around your car to keep any insects from reaching your interior.
5. Mind the battery.
Here you have two options that you can choose from that will fit your needs best. Option A: unhook the battery by removing the negative cable first and the place the battery separately to store. Be sure NOT to place your battery on a concrete floor or anywhere with freezing temperatures as this will kill the battery. Option B: leave the battery on the vehicle and hook up a battery tender to the battery. Choosing this option gives you the ability to start your car during the winter without having to reattach the battery each time.
6. Remove valuables and miscellaneous items.
This is especially important if your storage facility is somewhere that may be exposed to freezing temperatures. Be sure there are no items in the car that can possibly freeze and/or burst onto the interior of your vehicle.
7. Stretching your engine’s legs.
There are different theories on the topic of starting your vehicle during winter storage. The most practical theory is that you should start your car, but that it should run long enough to burn off the water vapors that initially develop during a cold start. It’s recommended that the vehicle should run for a good 10 (ten) minutes. If you don’t plan to run it for that long, then it is recommended to not start your vehicle’s engine as it would leave water in the combustion chamber and exhaust components.
Resurrecting Your Classic After Winter
1. Re-juice the battery.
After winterizing your classic car charge the battery of your vehicle for at least 24 hours. If you had to disconnect your car’s battery be sure to reattach the battery by attaching the positive cable before the negative cable.
2. Time to inspect.
Once you remove your car cover, make sure to do a detailed walk around to check for any signs of insects or animals and to make sure that no damage occurred during storage.
3. Removing winterizing components.
Remove any of the baking soda packets from the vehicle as they may spill if you forget them. Also remove any sort of covering from the air cleaner/air inlet and exhaust pipes.
4. Look for puddles.
It’s a good idea at this point to check the floor of the car and the ground underneath/around the car for any puddles or any spots that may have leaked during storage. Check all your fluid levels. Make sure they are at adequate levels and make sure the tire pressure is at the PSI it should be as air has most likely leaked out during the storage months.
5. Check your brakes.
Apply pressure to the brakes to make sure A) your brakes are in fact still working and B) that you have a good brake pedal. It’s important to make sure your brakes are working at this point as steel lines can rust out and insects and animals can chew through rubber brake hoses. The last thing you want is a runaway car right after taking it out of storage.
6. Start her up.
Start your vehicle and again take a detailed look around the vehicle while its running to ensure there are no fluid leaks.
7. She needs time to shake the dust off.
Give your vehicle some extra time to warm up the first time you fire it up after winterizing your classic car. You can do things such as check your lights, horn, wipers, etc. while you wait for its temperature to rise. Also keep in mind that its recommended to break in your car after storage by driving it slowly for the first few miles. Components such as the transmission and rear-end require movement to properly lubricate.
8. Give her a quick check up.
Now that you’ve put a few miles on the car take a detailed look around the vehicle again to check for any leaks caused by the first movement after the long winter months.
9. Car covers get dirty too.
Now that your cars uncovered and you won’t be putting it back on the car for a few days, it’s recommended to give the car cover a good cleaning. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions as each car cover may need to be washed differently.
10. She’s ready for summer.
Now that the car is all set and ready for the long summer ahead, be sure to lay down a nice strip of rubber to remind your classic what its job is!