Summer with a classic car can be a great time – long days, the wind in your hair and, if you’re lucky, lots of dry roads.
Winter, on the other hand, can often not be so good. And old cars don’t stand up so well to things like the cold and the rain.
Whether you’re putting it away until the spring or continuing to use it through the dark months, here we offer some guidance on getting your classic through winter.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to buy this winter, see our for sale section.
Whether it’s storage for a seasonal break or just keeping your car garaged in between regular usage, there’s plenty to think about when it comes to a place to keep it.
Damp is a no-no. As you’d probably realise, it accelerates rust, something that pretty much any car built before about 1995 is prone to. So if you can, dehumidify your garage so that it’s as dry as possible.
If you have no choice but to store your classic outside, try to keep it on a flat, solid surface – ie concrete rather than grass – and keep it covered up as much as possible. Also avoid being close to plants and weeds as well.
Rain and moisture
There can be few people who check the weather forecast as often as classic car owners. Suddenly a forecast for rain becomes a serious concern.
Never put your car away wet if you can possibly avoid it and, if storing in a garage, don’t seal it off completely as some ventilation is important to keep air flowing and reduce condensation.
Scary as it sounds, it’s often a good idea to let your motor dry off outside first.
Not the marine animal, but a very important part of classic car maintenance. This isn’t something that owners of modern cars need to worry about, but seals on a classic are all-important.
They are generally made from rubber, which perishes over time, so if your car is 30, 40, 50 or maybe more years old, take very close care of these.
Begin with the windows – if leaks get in then that can be a ticket to fungal growths on interiors and carpets. Also check door seals and anywhere else where there are bodywork gaps.
Ah, metal, the bane of most classic car owners’ lives. Modern cars don’t rust anymore, so it’s easy to forget how easily corrosion can get its claws into your classic.
A combination of moisture, dirt and cold air is what it takes. Annoyingly, these are all ingredients of the Great British Winter. So, keep your car clean for a kick-off. This isn’t always something people bother with in winter, but you really should.
Give it a proper wash and polish to help protect the paintwork – and do the same for chrome if you’ve got any.
If you’re putting it away until the spring
Many people might have already done this – the end of October is a favourite time. But here’s how to do it right in any event.
Pump the tyres up higher than normal, as much as 50psi, as this will keep them in better shape. If you can, jack the car up off of the ground – this helps reduce wear on the suspension springs. Charge the battery, or, if you can, leave it on a trickle charge.
Do an oil, filter and coolant change and, finally, wrap it up in a breathable cover. You can even buy a plastic tent-type setup, which helps avoid moisture. Once you’re all set, don’t just leave your car there and go back several months later.
Start it up at least monthly, ideally taking it around the block until the engine gets up to temperature. This is helps to keep moving parts loose.
Remember insurance – some people suspend it altogether when their car is laid up, but we’d suggest that fire and theft insurance should be maintained as a minimum.