How to store your car indoors for winter
If you value your vintage vehicle and live in a cold-winter climate, it's likely you'll be taking a multi-month break from driving and storing your vehicle until warm temperatures return. But storing a vehicle, especially an older classic, isn't as simple as parking it and leaving.
Dust and dirt, temperature fluctuations, moisture build-up, rust and rot, and animal invaders all threaten to deteriorate your car and its value.Follow these basic tips to ensure proper storage:
Prepare to store your vehicle for the winter months by cleaning the car inside and out, including vacuuming the carpets and interior to remove debris, especially food. Be sure to get the car's exterior as clean as possible and apply a fresh coat of wax.
To ensure that your engine components don't get damaged or clogged by gasoline deterioration, add a fuel stabilizer. After adding the proper mixture to the gas tank, take a ceremonial final drive of the year to allow the stabilizer to work through the entire fuel system.
When you return from your drive, drain the cooling system, and change the oil and oil filter. In case of a manual transmission, set the car in neutral and block the wheels.
If storing off-site, be sure and remove the battery and store it in a safe, dry place with a battery tender hooked up, if necessary. If you are storing it in your garage, use a battery tender to maintain the battery. If your car features a convertible top, store the vehicle with the top up, as changes in humidity can change the way the top fits.
Indoor, climate-controlled storage is the best insurance against winter's sometimes extreme temperature fluctuations. If using an off-site storage facility, be sure to ask about climate-controlled units and read the contract's fine print thoroughly - you don't want your baby sold at the next storage auction because you missed payments.
When storing a vehicle in a garage with a concrete floor, lay a plastic tarp on the floor to serve as a vapor barrier. If your vehicle leaks oil or any other fluids, place an absorbent beneath the leak-prone area. Roll the windows down slightly so air can circulate, then place open boxes of baking soda inside the car to help absorb moisture.
Securely cover the tailpipe - stuffing it with a clean shop rag works - to prevent critters from making your vehicle their new home. Finally, cover the entire car with a breathable cloth cover, such as those made from cotton.
Throughout your vehicle's extended storage, it's a good idea to check the car periodically, including starting the engine. If possible, after its sufficiently warmed up, take the car for a short drive (being sure all the necessary components and fluids are present first). Even if it's just around the block, it can help prevent the tires from becoming warped or dry rotted.
Look for any signs of deterioration or possible damage, including moisture build-up, rust, corrosion and signs of animal intrusion.
Come spring, when ready to take your classic vehicle for a drive, be sure and refill the fluids, check hoses for rotting and belts for cracking, and remove the rag from the tailpipe.
Check the brakes and, if possible, lubricate the suspension. Start the car but don’t rev it up; let it warm up naturally. Take the car out for a short drive and listen for sounds. After the drive, check the car once again, looking at the fluid levels, hoses and belts.