Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
That’s the resonating sound of the annual driving clock ticking down the days and minutes left in the season. Soon, cold and dreary weather will be upon most of the country for days and weeks on end. And, now’s the time to prepare you Collector Car for winter storage. Unless you have an already tried and true procedure, we’ve assembled a few ideas here to help you winterize your Classic Car during this most dreaded time of the driving year for Collector Car owners.
Winterizing a Collector Car is really trying to solve for a couple of common situations that will hinder the start of your driving season come springtime. (Tune in to our Spring driving tips in a few months for additional information!) Common issues at hand: Freezing temperatures, old and deteriorated fluids, moisture, and if you’re really “lucky,” those dreaded mice. Depending on where you store your car(s), you may encounter other hazards – feel free to amend this subject matter to your particular situation.
Let’s begin. You’ve finally got a nice clear day and you’ve finished the “honey-do list” early. Grab those keys and head to the garage!
Heacock’s 6 Classic Car Winterization Topics:
- Coolant System
- Lubrication (Engine) & Fuel System
- Exterior Body Panels & Interior Care
- Pesky Varmints
Pop the hood on the car and check your coolant – and not just the level in the radiator! Engine off and cold? Now is the perfect time to check the ability of the coolant to withstand freezing temperatures. Use an Antifreeze Hydrometer to measure the coolant’s antifreeze capabilities. Check for discoloration of the coolant while you’re peeking in the overflow tank or radiator (engine oil, transmission oil and or rust). When in doubt, flush and fill with a 50/50% mixture of new antifreeze and distilled water.
Don’t have a hydrometer? Don’t fret, this is a great reason to buy a new tool! Start your Classic Car and drive to your favorite auto parts store. This will allow that you get the car up to temperature and burn off any condensation build up in the exhaust and engine block, etc. Can’t remember the last time you changed your oil? That’s next on our agenda.
Lubrication (Engine) & Fuel System
Storing a car with used oil and dirty filter is easily avoidable. Grab a new filter and your preferred oil. And, while you’re at it, check on your stock of wax/clay bar and interior dressing as we’ll be getting to those winterization action items shortly!
Fuel system stabilization should also be thought of when you winterize your Classic Car. Are you running an Ethanol blend of fuel? As we all know, Ethanol absorbs water and turns regular fuel from the pump to junk in a matter of days/months, not to mention what it does to fuel lines, gaskets, etc. Stabil 360, or an equivalent, is a great idea!
Drive to the gas station and add your stabilizer. Fill the tank to full (helps to minimize the amount of condensation and rust in the tank) and take the long way home. This will ensure that the now stabilized fuel mixes well in the tank and all the way to the carburetor/or fuel injectors.
Upon arriving home, drain the hot engine oil, change filter and add that new liquid gold. Start the engine, check for leaks and let the engine circulate the new oil around one last time.
Exterior Body Panels & Interior Care
A good wash and wax will help protect the paint for storage/dust, etc. Feeling extra energetic? A good clay bar party and your ride will be gleaming on its first outing in the spring. Let’s not neglect the interior either. Vacuum out the car, remove any snacks that might have fallen between the seats and apply a good protectant to stave off mold/mildew from accumulating. Moisture build up inside the car can be further eliminated by using a “de-humidifier” such as CarSorb.
We’re getting close to finishing our Classic Car winterizing project! A good battery tender is worth the investment. Find a reputable brand that you can trust. Electrical fires in the dead of night are not worth saving a few dollars at time of purchase. Do your research and if you’re like me, simply disconnecting the battery and storing it inside/or off the ground is always an option.
Depending on what you have on your car (radial or bias ply tires) may dictate what you choose to do next. Because many cars today are running radial tires, we no longer have to worry too much about “flat spots” from cars that sit too long in one spot. Some ideas on the subject are to over inflate the tires by 5-10 psi and occasionally rolling the car a few feet forward or back every few weeks. Some will go to extreme efforts and raise the car off of the ground (on jack stands). But, the thought is that a fully hanging suspension is not good for the car and I’d advise that leaving the car in a slight compression will help to bridge both trains of thought.
Finally, there is one last item to think about: Mice, squirrels, rodents, raccoons, etc. You know, all those critters that love to make a 7 course meal of your wiring harnesses. There are probably as many schools of thought on this matter as there are car manufacturers. We’ve heard of steel wool in the exhaust pipes and air cleaner boxes, to moth balls (stinky) and other remedies. My suggestion is that if your collector or Classic Car lives in an environment where these creatures thrive, then you need to eradicate the problem before it gets to your garage. Traps with peanut butter, sticky traps, bars of Irish Spring, a big Tom Cat or simply whatever you find that works!
Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to prepare for the “off-season,” make a plan to get your Classic Car ready for its long winter’s nap. And when springtime rolls around, you’ll be miles ahead and ready for turn key fun with your pride and joy!
Have a few tips of your own regarding Classic Car winterization? Feel free to post them to our social media pages!