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Hibernate your Classic

Wise up to WINTER Published: 24th Feb 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Hibernate your Classic
Hibernate your Classic
Hibernate your Classic
Hibernate your Classic
Hibernate your Classic
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If this season is going to be as severe as last year’s, then waste no time in preparing your classic for hibernation. Here’s how to beat the cold war

It’s round about now that most classic car owners start thinking about putting their toys away for the winter, which is a sensible thing. But anybody who simply drives their classic into their garage and shuts the door until next spring is simply asking for trouble – yet many do.

It’s not hard or expensive to thoroughly prepare your classic for its big sleep and a day pampering your pride and joy now will pay off handsomely when you next come to use it in 2014. Here’s the drill.


Before you even start on your car, van or motorcycle, sort out your garage. Now is the time to have a thorough tidy up – making sure stuff on the shelves can’t fall on your classic by being overloaded. Attend to defective roofing as a bad storm is sure to make it worse. Any leaks should be stopped but don’t fret about draughts as these provide much needed ventilation, especially if you have a simple prefab lock up although it depends whether you intend to work in the garage over the winter, of course! If you’ve got any old carpet and underlay, make use of it by lining the floor to keep the heat in and the damp contained.


Many folk reckon that a garage provides all the protection you need over the winter but this isn’t so. A proper car cover gives welcome additional protection against physical damage and damp. But don’t just use any old sheeting, especially pvc which will ‘sweat’ and lead to micro-blistering of the paintwork that will be very expensive to properly rectify.

There’s a wide range of inexpensive car covers, starting from under £50, designed for the job with some tailor made for specific classics. The ultimate are dedicated air bubbles which seal the car in a special protective environment (such as Carcoon, Airflow Cair-o-Port and Permabag); these ‘additional’ garages cost from as little as a few hundred and some can be used outside so there’s no excuse for not protecting your car.


It goes without saying that a good wash and wipe over is essential before you lay your classic up as any dirt, bird lime etc will only be much more difficult to remove if allowed to fester. Some folks like to give their car a good waxing too, but you can argue that you’re effectively removing a film of paint that provides valuable protection and best left until the spring when the body will need another clean once out of storage anyway.

You choose… Some advocate leaving the wax on so it acts as a seal. It’s an old trick but the coating will be difficult to remove and if any dirt sticks it will turn into a grinding paste if you’re not careful. Having said that, we’d always leave a wax or polish on the chrome surfaces.


Always clean the underside of the bodywork (steam or jet wash) to get rid of any nasties and allow it to dry naturally before putting the vehicle away. If you have the time, dousing the underside and every nook and cranny with a good anti-rust preserving fluid before car is laid up is time and money well spent.  Attend to any stone chips or exposed scratches before storing, too. Any paint (or polish etc) suffices until you can repair the damage properly – the important thing is to cover that bare metal now.


A spring clean in December? Yes because leaving any dirt or stains to linger could ruin a good interior. If you can, remove the carpets and store them in your house (the loft is nice and warm) to prevent mildew damage, door cards too. Close all windows and vents but open the car up regularly to allow fresh air in.


Opinions are divided on changing the engine’s oil especially if the unit isn’t to be run. Bear in mind however that unless changed recently, old oil may contain harmful acids that may lead to internal corrosion over the months ahead.
Dedicated storage oils are available, from the likes of Millers, Penrite and Morris Lubricants which give off a mist to protect the inner workings as the oil lays in the sump. Penrite adds that its veteran, vintage and classic engine oils already contain an added rust preventative and a mild tackiness additive to ensure that engines are protected during lay-up periods without the need for an additional oil change when you want to use the vehicle.

We’d certainly go overboard with the grease gun pumping in fresh stuff anywhere a nipple will take it plus check and top up all fluid levels.

If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, ask your specialist or marque expert to give your car a winter service and check over.


If you don’t intend to touch the vehicle at all over the winter months it may be advisable to remove the spark plugs and pour some upper cylinder lubricant, such as Redex, down the bores to provide a film of protection (refit the spark plugs afterwards). Engines which haven’t run for a while can partly seize up. Don’t touch the starter as you may break the piston rings by turning it over quickly! Instead periodically turn the engine over manually with a spanner to keep it free.


Unlike the old leaded stuff, unleaded goes “off” if left dormant and can in extreme instances make a right mess of the fuel lines and carburettors. Some specialists advise draining out the old fuel and running the engine until it is spent. That said, an empty tank attracts condensation leading to possible internal rust! Whatever you choose, you will need fresh fuel for when you next start it up.


If you’re fed up checking and changing anti-freeze then why not try a waterless alternative. Evans Coolants ( markets a special coolant that not only does completely away with water and so prevents the normal overheating boil over (because not being water, it can’t), but also acts as an anti-freeze that’s designed for lifetime usage. At just under £65 for a 5L pack it’s not cheap – but there again nor is the latest OAT anti-freeze and at least you can fit and forget this liquid. We’ve been trying it out on a variety of classics, including an E-type, and are very impressed with its superior cooling properties, although you must ensure that the car’s cooling system is top notch before using it because this coolant will search out any leaking areas, admits Evans.


Don’t think that just because your classic is an on going restoration in bits that you don’t need to carry out any winter care. Think this way and all your previous good work may be undone! Parts will still seize up or go rusty so treat them to a spray of anti-rust lubricants and protect all parts as best you can from the cold and draughts.

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