Most classic car owners will admit that they can be demanding possessions. A classic car’s monetary value lies in its condition, so owners have a vested interest in keeping them free from harm. Your joyrider might need to spend a winter (or even longer) in secure storage when you’re not using it.
Seasonal or long-term car storage can be an excellent investment if you do your homework and make sure you’re paying a good price for a good service.
You also have a few responsibilities on the ownership end. Classic cars, like most vehicles, are meant to be driven. Before you shut them away for months or years in storage, they need to be prepared.
In order to prevent avoidable damage, here are the five key steps you should take when preparing your classic car for storage:
1) Fuel, Oil, And Engine
You want to top up your car with a full tank of premium gas and a fresh oil change prior to storing it. The full tank is a rust-prevention measure; gas will protect your fuel tank from moisture buildup and the corrosion it can cause.
Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas so that it will not start leaving unwanted deposits itself. Take your car for a brief drive (covering at least a few miles) after filling it up so that the stabilizer you’ve added gets distributed throughout the system. Or you can add the stabilizer before topping off the tank to ensure that fuel levels are at their maximum.
As noted above, a fresh oil change prior to storage is also a good idea. Install a new oil filter, too. Storing your classic car with old oil in the engine can cause unwanted rusting. As with the fuel stabilizer, you’ll want to take a short drive after changing the oil to distribute the new oil evenly throughout the system.
It’s also a good idea to lubricate your engine cylinders before storing your classic car for an extended period. You’ll need to remove the spark plugs to do this. If you’d like it to be as easy as possible to fire up your car after storing it, you can replace the spark plugs once this is done. On the other hand, keeping the spark plugs and storing them separately will protect your car from joyrides while it’s in storage.
2) Wash, Wax, & Detail
At first, glance, it might seem pointless or even a waste of time and money to clean your car before putting it into storage. Isn’t it going to get dusty anyway? While that’s true, you want to minimize the risk of damage occurring during storage. A fresh lair of wax serves to protect your car’s paint job. Interior detailing prevents debris inside your car from creating unwanted odors or attracting pests while it’s in storage.
Clean your car thoroughly, inside and out, before storing it. Give it a protective coat of wax. Other wise cleaning steps include:
* Protect against unwanted odors by leaving an open box of baking soda inside.
* Block the exhaust with aluminum foil or steel wool to keep pests from nesting inside.
* Apply fresh lubrication to hood and door hinges.
* Clean wheels thoroughly along with the other parts of the exterior.
* Use a breathable car cover made of cloth. Plastic covers can trap moisture on or in your car, causing rust.
3) Air Up Your Tires & Jack Up Your Car
A long-term stint in storage will turn into a very bad deal if your classic car comes out needing new tires! Keep your tires in great shape by filling them to the maximum recommended PSI provided by the manufacturer. When you know you’re not going to be driving your car any time soon, store it using jack stands. This minimizes the weight the tires have to bear, prevents flat spotting, and also relaxes your car’s suspension.
Note that if you’re storing your car on a natural surface, such as stone or dirt, you’ll need to make sure the tires are resting on an impermeable surface like plywood. Otherwise, ground rot may negatively affect your tires.
4) Battery & Fluids
For the absolute lowest risk of accidental damage, remover your classic car’s battery before storing it for extended periods. Corroded battery terminals can be cleaned with a mixture of distilled water, baking soda, and petroleum jelly. Batteries stored on their own should be kept in an elevated spot where they will not freeze. A climate-controlled environment is ideal.
If you’ll be starting up your car from time to time, you might want to invest in a trickle charger or battery tender to keep the battery from going dead. This is only an option if your storage space has access to a power source.
Prior to putting your car in long-term storage, check all fluid levels – antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc. – and top off any that are low.
5) Store Your Car In The Right Place
The best space for storing a classic car is one that is clean, dry, and dark. Some of the most convenient spaces for long-term car storage (like an old barn) can be the most adverse. Dirt floors and light exposure will both accelerate the deterioration of your car. Even an ordinary garage attached to your home can be less than ideal if the garage door is in constant use; this exposes your car to the elements too often.
Steel framed buildings or purpose-built car storage units that are ideally equipped for classic car storage. If you’re interested, check out the cost of Steel Framed Buildings in the UK
Hopefully, you’ve picked up a few useful car storage tips here. Remember that a classic car isn’t just a pleasure to drive, it’s also an investment that deserves protection.