If you are taking your vehicle off the road for winter there are a number of things to do before you lock the door and walk away. If you simply let your vehicle sit in the garage for six months, you may return to a dead battery, a damaged engine, ruined tires and a rat's nest under your bonnet or other problems from disuse.
Here's a list of important steps to take before you store a vehicle. Taking these precautions will not only ensure that your car starts when you return to it, but also ensure that its time in storage doesn't shorten the life of its components.
There are several tasks that need to be tackled now before the car is in position in its winter resting place, because once the car is out of sight it can also be out of mind and these jobs will be forgotten.
Part 2 - At Its Winter Resting Place
After completing the preparation in Part 1, it’s now time to lay up the vehicle (before the salt spreaders start work)
- Prepare the space you are going leave car, make sure that there are no roof leaks, give it a good sweep or vacuum, make as much space as you can to get easy access and make sure that nothing can fall on the car.
- A warm, dry garage is attractive to mice and rats and there are plenty of places in your car for little beasts to hide and plenty of things for them to chew on, even rubber belts and hoses. Seats and ventilation ducts make great homes. Stuff a rag into the air intake and some wire wool in the exhaust to prevent animals from nesting there. Spread mothballs under the vehicle. As well as moths, mice are do not like the smell.
- Store with windows open enough to allow air circulation, but not enough for vermin.
- Put the top up if it's a convertible, this prevents shrinking and creasing, (especially of rear windows), cover the top with an old cotton bed sheet to keep dust off and prevent direct sunlight from falling on the fabric or plastic, causing fading and deterioration.
- Try to reduce humidity and condensation with a dehumidifier VentaSpace or Air Dry. Hang an Air Freshener to give a fresh smell when re-commissioned.
- Apply a good-quality hide conditioner to keep leather upholstery supple.
- With an aerosol or mini grease gun lubricate door, bonnet and boot hinges, seat runners and telescopic aerials.
- Put a thin coating of rubber grease or Vaseline on all rubber seals to stop them sticking.
- A battery should not be allowed to fully discharge. Connect to a Battery Saver which maintains the charge without over-charging. Alternatively, remove the battery and use a battery charger each month to top up. With more modern cars you should have the codes for the radio/alarm etc before disconnecting the battery or use a memory saver. In case of electrical shorts from perished insulation, It’s always advisable to disconnect the battery even if left in the car, fitting a Cut out switch on the battery terminal makes this easy.
- Place a piece of Cling film on the windscreen under the wiper blades, to prevent the rubber from sticking to the glass, Alternatively remove wiper arms or raise blades off the glass by placing a match box or similar under each arm. This prevents the blade sticking to the glass or deforming. Don't lift arms more than is necessary as you may weaken the tension springs.
- Remove the spark plugs and spray a small amount of oil into the cylinders to prevent rusting, then insert the plugs again. Engine Guard has vapour phase corrosion inhibitors and is an ideal product. Use of a spark plug anti-seize lubricant on the threads is always advisable, to prevent the threads from sticking. The Engine Guard Classic Vapour oil should also be added to the sump oil for bottom end protection.
- It is advisable to jack the car up onto axle stands to avoid flat spots on the tires, particularly crossply tyres: low profiles seem to be less sensitive and will last the winter on the ground. If you are leaving the vehicle on the ground it should be moved a little each month.
- Release the hand brake. If the brake is left on, the brake pads can stick to the discs or drums. If on a slope, place chocks under the tires to prevent movement. If you have access to the car during the storage period, press the brake and clutch pedals once a month to help prevent sticking of the seals inside the hydraulic cylinders.
- Use a car cover only for outdoor storage, or in very dusty locations. Leaving the car "open" indoors allows water vapour to leave the car after humid weather. If you must use a cover, use a cover that is ventilated and allows water vapour to escape or put it in a Carcoon, which forces ventilation.
- Place a note to yourself on the steering wheel outlining which steps above you carried out (rag in exhaust, rag in intake, carpets removed, battery removed, etc). When returning to the car in the spring, ensure all of these steps are reversed, checking them off as you go down the list.
- Check your insurance; you may get a discount while your vehicle is laid up.
--- If you had done all that! Now, relax and enjoy the winter! ---