Winter Car Care | Part 1 - Before Winter Storage

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 1 - Before Winter Storage

1. This is the time to give your car a thorough wash and clean using a high-pressure hose to remove accumulated road dirt from the underside. A steam clean under the bonnet wouldn’t go amiss either and will aid inspection and repair of faults that you can attend to in the winter months. After this thorough cleaning, leave the car for a couple of days to allow all the water to drain away.

2. It’s also a good idea to deal with any stone chips on the bodywork at this time before rust develops. The Langka chip repair kit makes this a little easier. Rust spots should be painted with Rust Cure.

3. Check all lamp assemblies for water or condensation on the inside. If in doubt remove lamp lenses (if possible) and dry out the interiors to prevent long-term condensation of bulb holders.

4. Now is the time to change the oil and filter – before you put your car away. Old oil containing acidic material can damage the engine. Use an oil drain extractor to remove the old oil and replace with a quality oil such as Millers (all engine oils) and you may find a wrench strap handy for the filter removal.

5. Fill the fuel tank with fresh fuel. Condensation in the tank is a problem in stored vehicles, and it is widely suggested that you fill the tank completely in order to avoid any empty space where water can accumulate and cause the tank to rot. However, the petrol can become “gummy” over time, so it is useful to add a fuel preservative (which should also be used for lawn mowers and other seasonal garden equipment).

An alternative course of action is leaving only a small amount of petrol in the tank, adding stabilizer to it, and upon return to your car — add fresh petrol to mix with the older stuff. But this needs the addition of Tank Safe to reduce the possibility of corrosion in the fuel tank.

6. Drain and replenish the cooling system with the right proportion of water and anti-freeze to cope with the coldest days of winter. Check with our antifreeze tester. Good antifreeze contains anti corrosion additives and older cars should use Bluecol not orange OAT products.

7. You have the choice of putting your classic car up on blocks or to leave it standing on its road wheels. If it’s simply winter storage it’s probably easier to leave it resting on its wheels as this will enable you to roll the car out on to your drive-way give it an airing from time to time. If you choose this course it’s important to overinflate each of the tyres a few pounds per square inch above their normal pressures (using mini air compressor or tyre inflator) to reduce the flat spot. Check with a tyre pressure gauge.

8. Use a grease gun to apply grease to all grease-points on steering, suspension and driveline.

9. Smear grease onto steel brake and fuel pipes to reduce corrosion.

10. Apply a fresh coat of underside anti-rust preservative like Dinitrol (S307 and others)

11. Drain fluid from the screen wash pipes and jets and empty the reservoir. This not only prevents frost damage, but also the forming of sediment in the fluid as it stands.

12. Wax/ Apply a good coating of Blitz wax polish to the bodywork, but don’t polish it off (when you put the car back on the road another coat of wax and elbow grease will restore the shine).

13. Polish chrome-work and cover with either lacquer or a generous coating of wax or Vaseline.

14. Clean and vacuum (Wet or Dry Vacuum/ Interior Mini Vacuum Attachment Kit) the interior extensively, being especially vigilant about all food scraps and particles; these can attract small animals. Removing the carpets for heated indoor storage will prevent them from becoming musty

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