Vehicle storage protecting your investment
The arrival of winter creates a sad sigh for those of us who must put away that special car into winter storage. How we store our vehicles can have a bearing on how well it will perform in the spring and the longevity of some components. Ideally, your car is best stored inside in a climate controlled environment. Moisture, present during storage will accelerate erosion on body metal and other key components, especially if put away without washing off road contaminants such as salt. A good coat of wax also helps give some extra protection to the paint finish. If you are storing outside use a quality car cover recommended by your local dealer, preferably one that protects your paint, for additional protection, it’s a good idea to add a heavy duty tarp over your car cover. The following tips are some of the recognized procedures I have tried to observe when storing my own classic car.
1. Drive your car to bring the engine and driveline components up to normal operating temperature. This helps disperse moisture or condensation from the crankcase, transmission and differential housings. Spray an engine fog through the engine intake as directed when shutting down to coat and protect internal moving surfaces from corrosion.
2. It’s a good idea to change the oil and filter prior to storage. Typically the built up bi-products of engine combustion in the oil such as fuel, water and other contaminants can be harmful to an engine if left in the crankcase for an extended time. This also applies to other drive line components if storage is to be extended.
3. Consider flushing your cooling system, engine Coolant should be flushed every two years or according to your vehicle manufactures handbook. Coolant also builds up containments such as calcium and acids over time which can become particularly destructive to your radiator, heater core and hoses when left over time. Just checking your coolant antifreeze level is not enough. If you’re not sure, you can purchase coolant, alkaline, test strips from your local automotive store, to confirm acid levels in the system.
4. Your fuel tank should be filled to maximum to prevent the possibility of moisture or water build up as a result of condensation. To prevent gas from becoming stale and blocking up your carburetor or fuel passages, you should add fuel stabilizer to the tank, then run your engine for few minutes to circulate the mixture through your fuel system.
5. If your battery is left standing or discharged for any length of time, it will start to sulfate, reducing its operational life span. Low or discharged batteries can easily freeze, so you should remove your battery whenever possible to store in a warm dry place. Use an automatic trickle charger to keep a constant rate of charge. If not easy to remove the battery, at least connect it to an automatic trickle charger.
6. Regardless if stored inside or outside the chance of mice or other rodents getting into your car and causing major destruction to wiring and components are a constant source of worry! There are many suggestions out there to keep rodents away that appear to work. Use moth balls, both inside and spread around the vehicle on the ground. If you don’t like the moth ball smell, others use “Bounce” dryer softener sheets tucked in key location of vulnerability such as: vehicle interior, engine compartment, trunk, exhaust pipes ect. The new electrical ultrasonic sound devises, strategically placed, can also help. I would probably employ all of the above for added protection.
Finally, if stored for an extended period of time you should jack your car up onto stands to prevent suspension sag if possible. If kept on the ground, increase tire pressure to 40-42 lbs, this helps prevent tire flat spots, from sitting in one spot under load over time. Whether storing short term or long term, these tips will help keep your ride in good running order.
By Alan Masters MCG Automotive Consulting