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Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter Storage

Preparing your vehicle for winter storage

It’s late September, the warm fun days of summer are gone, and the harsh cold reality of winter is rapidly approaching. Now some people choose to put their classic vehicles away during the winter as salt used on New Jersey roads can be harsh on the metals and paint finishes of classic vehicles. To keep these rolling pieces of history in good condition, it is important to take the proper steps when preparing your vehicle for winter storage.

            …wait you don’t know what to do? Ok don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of some recommended steps to store your vehicle over the winter.

Change the oil and update fluids

The oil in a car breaks down over time, and if proper maintenance isn’t done it can cause premature wear that can increase oil consumption. This is bad, so to prevent it change the oil and add a new filter before the car goes into storage. That way when spring comes around, the car will be ready to go and have relatively fresh oil too. Updating other fluids such as coolant, washer fluid, transmission fluid, etc is also a good thing to do if needed, as it will ensure the car is fresh for spring, and also that maintenance details are taken care of.

Fill up the tank

Filling up your tank before putting the vehicle in storage is a very important precaution to take. As the car sits for long periods of time, fuel evaporates in the tank, and this allows moisture to gather in its place. The less fuel in the tank allows for this process to happen faster. Higher-octane gasoline burns slower and combusts more efficiently, and as a result will not gum up as quick in the fuel tank too. This allows for the tank to stay fresher and have less risk of the molecules changing over time. It also couldn’t hurt to add fuel stabilizer depending on how long the car is sitting too.

Clean the car

A good wash and a coat of wax will go a long way for preventing debris and dust from affecting the paint. It also removes any contaminants already on the car from driving that can damage it over time. Cleaning out the interior is also good to avoid odors and wear. Using special cleaners can prevent the interior from fading if the car is in the sun, and well as preventing leather from drying out. Also check out any storage areas too, and make sure that there aren’t any spaces where some unwanted animal tenants might want to make their new home. Some people recommend placing rags into easily accessible areas such as air intake and exhaust, but if you do this tape a note to the steering wheel reminding you to remove them before the first drive of the spring.

If possible, store the vehicle indoors

Indoor storage allows for less interference from outside weather conditions, and other factors as well. It is best to place a sheet under the vehicle as a vapor barrier so moisture doesn’t accumulate there and rust the undercarriage. If your classic is stored in the same space as your daily driver, also try to prevent water and other debris coming in off that car, as they both are affected by the same conditions once they are in a closed area.

Lift it

No not a lift kit, but jacking up the car can go a long way to prevent flat spots on the tires. If you are storing the car without moving it for more than a month, it is highly recommend that you do this. Also older bias-ply tires are more likely to do this faster than radials so make sure you are prepared. This process also reduces stress on suspension components too. Axle stands are recommended for supporting the vehicles weight over trolley jacks, but if a jack is not easily accessible, inflating the tires at a higher psi can also avoid flat spots. Remember to reduce it for safety reasons later.

Other details

When the car is lifted keep it in neutral, and keep the parking brake off to avoid it from sticking. Place a car cover over the vehicle and make sure it is breathable and appropriate for indoor or outdoor use. Remove the battery and store it in a warmer place, or put it on a trickle charge. Start the car about once every month, and it’ll be ready to go when spring comes around!


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Kieran Fannan

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