Classic Car Storage Tips

10 Tips for Long-Term Classic Car Storage

* Make sure your gas tank is full. This will reduce the amount of water that can be absorbed by the gasoline and it also slows the rate at which it turns to varnish. Use and additive like “Sta-Bil”, “Dry Gas” or similar. Make sure it’s well mixed and run the car for a while to make sure it’s in the entire fuel system.

* Freezing temperatures naturally dictate that anti-freeze be used. But even if it’s not freezing, put it in. Many of the newer ‘coolants’ have excellent corrosion inhibitors that will help protect and lubricate your cooling system. A 50/50 anti-freeze/water mix is fine. Again make sure to run the car so it’s mixed throughout the entire system.

* Change the engine oil. Dirty oil is contaminated with acids and water that can cause premature bearing failure and rust inside the engine. If the car is likely to be left for a very long period of time unattended, remove the sparkplugs and liberally squirt some form of ‘upper-cylinder lubricant’ into the cylinders before replacing the plugs. This will help stop the piston rings from rusting to the cylinder walls.

* Make sure the Brake and Clutch master cylinders are full of brake fluid. Brake fluid can absorb water very quickly. By reducing the exposed surface area of the fluid, the water absorption can be reduced. If you can, bleed the brake and clutch systems. It is recommended that you do this on an annual basis anyway, to purge the system of old and possibly contaminated brake fluid.

* To inhibit rust in the engine area, use a lubricant spray such as WD40 to coat all exposed metal surfaces. The volatile carrier in the WD40 will soon evaporate leaving a protective film on the hose clamps, coils, carb bodies etc. ‘Wax-oyl’ is also good, but you’ll want to hose it off at a ‘car wash’ in the Spring.

* Wash the entire car and apply a good wax. Don’t forget to clean the inside. Do this early in the day to give it plenty of time to thoroughly dry before putting it in storage.

* If you have a convertible top, leave it up and the windows and vents closed. A convertible top can develop nasty creases when folded for long periods, especially in cold climates. Treat Vinyl tops with Silicone or similar. Keeping the windows and vents closed keeps small creatures from entering. But buy some desiccant sacs from a storage supply house ‘Dry Pac’ for example and place them inside the car on the floors. This will keep moisture from damaging the interior if it is damp or humid where you are.

* Ensure that the boot is clean and dry, The boot seal is not always positive and some moisture can collect and condense in the inner fenders and floor. Air it out well for a day or so, then place a desiccant sac in here too before closing it up.

* Finally, take the car on a good 30 minute run. This will evaporate all the moisture in the exhaust and in the engine. Then park the car with the hand brake off and either ‘chock’ the wheels or leave it in gear if necessary. Over inflating the tires can help guard against flat spots. Disconnect the battery.

* The best thing to do for a stored car is to visit it once a month and take it for a short drive. This keeps everything in good shape, preventing things from getting corroded and seals drying out. At the very least have some one start it up periodically. If you are going to cover it use a proper Cloth car cover, not a Plastic one. If you find the concrete floor in your storage unit gets damp or ‘sweats’ use cat litter, or lay plastic beneath the car to prevent the condensation from reaching your floor pans.

Other suggestions:

1. Give your classic a good detailing. Wash all road grime and salts from the undercarriage as well as body parts. Give the entire car a good wax and don’t buff off chromed surfaces until you’re ready to remove the car from storage. Lubricate all rubber and vacuum and clean the upholstery; you don’t want any hidden food crumbs that might entice critters.

2. Once you have your classic parked for the winter, change or drain fluids. Try to drain the fluids while the car is still warm. Oil, in particular, when it is heated and circulating, picks up and emulsifies chemical contaminants and particles. Just be careful and wear gloves; hot engine oil can cause painful burns.

3. Carefully fill the universal joints with fresh grease, if your car have lube fittings. Pack the front wheel bearings and apply clean grease on all of the steering and suspension fittings.

4. Bleed the brake system. The best insurance against break deterioration is to drain your system of old fluid and refill with fresh.

5. Drain the fuel tank if you are going to store your car for more than six months. Once you have drained the tank, start the engine and run the rest of the gas out of the lines. Old gas will clog carburetors and cause valves to hang up. If you are only going to be storing your car for a few months you can add a can of gasoline stabilizer to delay fuel deterioration.

6. Drain the cooling system completely and leave the petcock open and the radiator cap off so air can circulate. Disconnect the heater hoses and drain the heater too. With all of the car’s fluids drained at this point you should contact your local household and hazardous waste service for proper disposal.

7. Remove the battery and store it carefully if you want it to survive. Wash it down with a solution of water and baking soda, then top it off with distilled water. Store it on a shelf in a dry place, not on concrete.

8. Raise the car and place jack stands under the suspension points. Remove the tires and stack them in a corner placing cardboard between each one and cover.

9. Depress the clutch and lock it in position with a 2 x 4 pressed against the clutch and the front of the seat cushion or seat frame. Clutch plates often stick together in storage.

10. Before you encase your classic in its winter cocoon, the last things to do are;
* Roll down your windows to allow for circulation
* Place opened boxes of baking soda in various places to absorb moisture
* Put a plastic bag over the carburetor to keep moisture out
* stuff an old rag up the tailpipe to keep vermin out.

11. Now you can cover up your classic car. The most important consideration when choosing a cover for your car’s winter nap is selecting the right kind of fabric for your specific storage application. Cotton flannel fabrics breathe and allow air to circulate through them as well as being soft and easy on your cars paint and wax. Cotton/polyester fabrics have poor fluid resistance and trap heat and moisture. Plastic films should be avoided because they don’t breathe.

What You Need:

* Car wash and wax
* Rubber lubricant
* Old gallon milk jugs to store drained fluids
* Baking soda and plastic bags
* Grease to lube fittings and pack wheel bearings
* Four jack stands
* Appropriate length 2×4 to depress clutch
* Tools to remove battery
* A car cover