How To Winterize Your Classic Car

It’s Almost Hibernation Season for Classic Cars

By Jeff Walker, Chubb Collector Car Insurance

1956 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California SpiderAs the days get shorter and cooler air presses south, snow will soon begin to fall. And with the snow comes the plow trucks to cover the roads with corrosive salt. This is no place for your classic car, so letting it hibernate for a few months is the best option to preserve its condition.

Before you throw the cover on and close the garage door behind you for a few months, you should consider taking a few preventative measures to ensure you’ll have a trouble-free start up in the spring. Below are some basic steps you should take prior to winter storage. For long-term storage, check out this how-to video or talk things over with a trusted mechanic.

Fuel: Modern day gasoline contains ethanol, sometimes more than 10% ethanol. Ethanol absorbs water, and this can contribute to the gas and ethanol mix separating. For you fuel sniffers, the technical term is called “phase separation.” Since internal combustion engines don’t really like water, use a fuel stabilizer. Run the engine to ensure the stabilized fuel has made it to all fuel filters and the carburetor(s).

Oil Change: As a rule of thumb, oil should be changed at least once a year even if you’ve only put 100 miles on the engine. If by chance you have water or other contaminants in the used oil, it could sit in the engine for a few months. Clean oil means no contaminants. And be sure to change the oil filter as well.

Clean It: Give the car a good wash and wax, and polish the chrome. Washing, waxing and polishing removes anything that could tarnish the finish and helps prevent corrosion. Be sure to get into the interior, too. Keep your storage area dry, because mold loves to grow in damp places like the interior of your car. You can use a desiccant, or moisture-absorbing product, in the interior

Tires: Flat spots are no fun, and one of the best ways to create them is parking your car for an extended period of time. Inflate your tires 10-15 psi higher than usual to stiffen them up. For the best protection, elevate and store the car safely on jack-stands.

Battery: The cold air and a lack of use can kill a battery. In fact, in extreme cold, a battery can freeze, which creates a big problem if the plastic case cracks. Disconnect and remove the battery. Keep it warm and keep it charged. Read all manufacturer’s guidelines for storage and charging.

These are some of the basics of winter storage. This will likely be a hotly discussed topic among your fellow car enthusiasts, who will likely have their own ideas about storing cars for the winter. You may choose to adopt some of their ideas and also use some of ours. Ultimately you’ll develop a plan that works for you and help make sure your classic car is ready when spring comes around.

[Source: Jeff Walker; photo: Tim Scott / Fluid Images]

Show Comments (1)

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  1. My father is thinking about winterizing his old classic truck. Thanks for explaining that it would be smart to look into different types of fuel. I didn’t realize that some fuels work in winter better than others. It does seem like he should put the car into a storage unit until he can figure out how to winterize it.