In the first part, I covered preparing your car for winter storage:
- Pro’s and Con’s of winter storage
- Storage location
- Mechanical preparation
- Bodywork and interior preparation
In this second part, I will cover putting your car into hibernation. I will also explain the tasks you should carry out whilst the car is stored to ensure that it is ready to go in the springtime.
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To help with putting your car to bed, please download your FREE winter car storage checklist download.
20. Vapour barrier
Put plastic sheeting on the floor of you garage to act as a vapour barrier against damp rising through the cold floor. It will also enable you to see if there are fluids leaking from your car.
21. Nose first
Put your car into the garage bonnet first, that way, you can roll it out slightly if you need to start the car. (WARNING – Only start the engine in a well-ventilated area (OUTSIDE) as carbon monoxide from the exhaust will kill you very quickly.)
22. Release handbrake
To prevent the brakes from seizing, make sure you release the handbrake during winter storage. Remember to chock wheels to prevent it from rolling away!
23. Windscreen wipers
Windscreen wiper blades can stick to the windscreen over time. Some people say to remove the blades during winter storage but I think that you run the risk of scratching your windscreen. Try wrapping them in cling film or putting greaseproof paper between the blade and the windscreen.
24. Traffic protection
Wherever you store your car, try to give it some protection against people walking past, placing items on it or knocking it with bikes shopping etc. If this type of traffic is going to be a problem for you and your car is stored inside, you could try putting some hardboard alongside the car as a protective barrier.
Mice can be incredibly destructive to your classic car. They chew through wire, fabric and wood and are not fussy about their toilet behaviour. Prevention and deterrent are notoriously difficult.
You need to decide whether you use traps or not. If you do use them, don’t put them inside the car; the smell is not something that you will get rid of quickly. Put a ball of steel wool (or a rolled up sock) in the end of your exhaust pipe to prevent ballistic mice appearing when you start your car up in spring. Similarly, cover the air intake if there is an opportunity for them to get in. Put a few mothballs on trays inside the car and the boot (I have heard that laundry sheets like bounce work but I have never tried that) and seal your car as best you can. You could even leave moth balls underneath the car as a deterrent.
To help combat moisture and damp in the car, place trays of silica gel based cat litter on trays in the car. Foot-wells, under seats and in the boots. If you’re worried about them getting knocked over, half fill an old sock with the cat litter and tie it off. You can also put baking soda in trays around the car to cut down on whiffs
Place your completed, FREE Winter Storage For Cars checklist on the front dashboard so that you remember to undo all of your packaging when you come to put the car back on the road.
28. Cover it up
Finally, it’s time to put the cover on. Covers should be soft and breathable and have some method of securing in place. Do not use plastic or a tarpaulin.
If you are storing your car outside, it is worth spending a decent amount of money to get a good quality cover. They may cost a couple of hundred pounds to buy, but they could save you many more hundreds in remedial work caused by winter weather.
That’s it, sit back, watch “It’s a wonderful life” and wait for Santa ! Well, not quite …
29. Battery conditioner
Attach your battery to a battery conditioner / charger (I use the CTEK MXS 5.0 Fully Automatic Battery Charger (Charges, Maintains and Reconditions Car and Motorcycle Batteries) 12V, 5 A and it is fantastic) This will keep your battery in tip-top condition, fully charged and ready to go.
30. Remove battery
If you are expecting regular sub-freezing temperatures, you might want to remove the battery in case it freezes and splits. You really don’t want all that battery acid over your car. Put it somewhere warm and, if you have one, leave it attached to the CTEK.
Bear in mind that clocks, radio security codes and any computer settings will be lost, so make a note of them before disconnecting the battery.
31. Visiting rights
Visit your car regularly, they get lonely, and check for leaks, damage by pests (dispose of any despatched creatures!), vandalism and whether it is still securely covered.
Every 3 or 4 weeks, carry out the following Tips.
32. Pump it up
Pump the clutch to prevent it from binding to the clutch plate. At the same time, pump the brake pedal to prevent the brake cylinders from drying out and the rubbers perishing.
33. Roll with it
If you are concerned about flat spots on your tyre, mark 3 points on your garage floor at a spacing equal to the diameter of the tyre. On each of these visits, roll the car from one mark to the next. (the circumference of the tyre is its diameter multiplied by pi (3.142) so the marks will enable you to move the load on the tyre a third of the way around)
Start the engine ?
There are a couple of schools of thought on whether you should start the engine or not whilst in storage.
Some say that it is essential in order to get all of the components oiled and protected. Others say that it puts a lot of strain on the engine to start it up from cold, run it for a minute and the turn it off again. Unless you get it up to working temperature (normally 15 to 20 minutes running), you just cause moisture to get into the engine and oil.
34. Start me up
If you do decide to start your engine, (WARNING – Only start the engine in a well-ventilated area (OUTSIDE) as carbon monoxide from the exhaust will kill you very quickly.)
Don’t forget to remove, and then, afterwards replace some of the precautions that you have taken for winter storage e.g. remove the wire wool from the air intake and exhaust pipe !
Run the car for 15 to 20 minutes to get the engine up to its correct operating temperature.
35. Turn it over
If you don’t start the engine, do turn it over for 3 or 4 seconds to re-position the camshaft and prevent the valve spring from becoming shortened by being compressed for 3 months. Again, don’t forget to remove, and then, afterwards replace some of the precautions that you have taken for winter storage e.g. remove the wire wool from the inlet manifold and exhaust pipe !
The daffodils are out, spring is in the air and … I’ll post a follow-up article in March about re-commissioning your car as it comes out of winter storage. The main points will be:
- Use your winter storage for cars checklist to reverse all of the precautions that you took.
- Check fluids, brakes and pressures
- Take it easy on your first drive of the year until everything beds in properly.
And that’s a wrap
Well, I think that is a pretty comprehensive list of tips and I hope that you get to use some of them. If you have any additional tips or opinions, please leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to download your FREE winter car storage checklist download.