Thursday December 10, 2015
With Christmas fast approaching, many of you will be preparing your classic car for hibernation over the winter months. Get it right and you’ll reap the rewards when it starts first time and roars into a new season; get it wrong, and you could be churning away on the starter motor for hours with a can of WD40 in one hand, and some Easy Start in the other!
FIVE STEP PLAN
We’ve put together five simple suggestions to help you prepare your classic for storage during winter. This isn’t an exhaustive list and if you have any specific questions, it’s always best to ask your local mechanic.
1: The engine
The engine can be one of the most important parts to secure, so now is the time to:
- Grease any lubrication points and change the engine oil to a proper storage oil. You should also top-up the coolant system with a 50:50 anti-freeze mixture to ensure the cold weather doesn’t take hold.
- Slacken all drive belts, not the cam belt, to ease any strain on generators and alternators.
- Lubricate door seals and locks with a special lock lubricant such as WD40. Don’t be tempted to use general-purpose oil as it will gum up and attract dust.
- Unleaded petrol goes off more quickly than leaded used to, gumming up carburettors, and can cause starting problems in the spring. There are three ways you can deal with this, the last is the safest course of action and isn’t too expensive:
- brim the tank to minimise the amount of petrol that is exposed to the air;
- drain the tank through use and store it almost empty, topping it up with fresh fuel in the spring;
- or add a petrol stabiliser like Millers Tank Safe.
2: Clean and protect
Make sure you get your classic ready for the winter, by cleaning and protecting all areas, such as:
- Thoroughly washing your classic with car shampoo to remove any traffic film, atmospheric pollution, and tar spots. If you have leather seats, make sure you give them a good clean and feed as well, to help prevent mould growing on them.
- If you find any stubborn marks, they can be removed with either a tar remover or a mildly abrasive polish like T-Cut. Finish with a good wax polish of all the paintwork, not forgetting to include all the wheels if they are painted steel or alloy.
- Wire wheels can be sprayed with a light coating of WD40, which will help stop any corrosion; WD40 also works well on any chrome work too.
3: The electrical system
To try and stop any unexpected surprises when it comes to your battery, how about trying the following:
- Buying a decent battery maintainer/trickle charging system might be the best investment you’ll make for keeping your classic ready for use. They usually cost around £50 and can help prevent the battery going flat.
- If you don’t want to go to that expense, disconnecting the battery earth lead will prevent the battery draining, however, be wary as it will stop your car alarm working, which could invalidate your insurance.
When storing your classic over the winter there are three options:
- Do nothing and keep them the same, which may risk flat spots developing;
- Pump them up to around 50psi, which will help stop the problem;
- Or raise the car to stand on its axle stands. This option may be the best, as it takes the weight off the tyres, but you must ensure the car is carefully supported.
5: The final resting position
Want some tips on how to store your classic? Well look no further:
- Some lay a large sheet of plastic on the garage floor, topped with a layer of cardboard, to help prevent damp air rising and causing underbody rust - this step shouldn’t be necessary if your garage is dry.
- Drive the car into position and chock the wheels or jack the car up, depending on how you have decided to store it. Leave the handbrake off and a couple of windows slightly open to prevent musty smells developing. Connect the battery charger and throw an old cotton sheet or dedicated car cover over it to protect the bodywork.
- It should sit like this very happily for at least six months without harm, especially if you pump the clutch pedal every couple of weeks to stop it sticking to the flywheel.
If you’re taking your car off the road and don’t have insurance cover, remember to declare your car via the DVLA’s Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) scheme. If you don’t, you risk a fine of up to £1,000!
There is, however, a number of dangers in removing your insurance cover once you SORN your vehicle, that you may not have thought about and theft can be the least of your concerns!
The engine bay or vehicle interior is a great nesting place for rodents that don’t like the cold and they don’t care about the carnage they cause. Also, how secure are the fixtures of your garage in the stormy conditions? You’d be surprised how messy a tin of paint can be if it falls off of a shelf on to your car!
Winter is also a good time of year to sort those lengthy repairs you’ve been wanting to do for months but didn’t want to take your vehicle off the road during the summer months to do them. A spark from a welder or an oily rag near a hot engine can easily start a fire and the rest as they say is history.
At Lancaster we can offer solutions to ensure that your vehicle is insured against such incidents but at a fraction of the cost. Laid up cover is available and whilst it will not allow you to drive your classic, it will give you Fire, Theft & Accidental Damage Cover whilst it is in your garage.
Alternatively, how about a low mileage policy that will allow you to drive the car on the road so that you can test out all of the improvements you’ve made over the winter or simply just take her to one of the many car shows that are organised over the festive period.
Both of these solutions are lower cost alternatives to a standard policy. To find out more, give our team a call today.