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A Winter Care Guide Part-1

Wise up to Winter Published: 31st May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A Winter Care Guide Part-1
A Winter Care Guide Part-1
A Winter Care Guide Part-1
A Winter Care Guide Part-1
A Winter Care Guide Part-1
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Did the sudden onset of winter catch you out this year? Then get your skates on and prepare your car and garage for the big freeze ahead with a de-humidifier, says Robert Couldwell

The climate in the UK is such that old cars rot. Rust is formed when iron begins returning to its natural state (iron ore) by combining with oxygen to become ferric oxide. Wherever untreated or uncovered iron or steel is exposed to the air, rust will eventually result with moisture, acid rain, salt and dirt all acting as good catalysts to speed up the process. All air contains moisture, measured in terms of percentage relative humidity. Humidity is temperature sensitive and the higher the temperature the lower the relative humidity and vice versa. As air cools it reaches a point where it is fully saturated (100 per cent RH), known as the dew point. If untreated steel objects are at a temperature below the dew point, the moisture in the air will turn into condensation and rusting will commence along with the formation of moulds and fungus on suitable materials.

The ideal humidity for motor cars is between 40 and 60. Below 40, wood and leather will crack and above 60 rust will start. If you are not sure about the humidity in your garage then you can purchase an hygrometer or alternatively leave untreated pieces of clean, mild steel around the garage and see if rust starts to appear.It is not only our cars we have to worry about but our tools,screws, nuts and bolts, nails and anything else made from steel. There are two options; the first as now universally used by car manufacturers is to completely cover the metal to prevent direct contact with the air. Unfortunately cars have only been protected like this for the last 15 or 20 years and so many of our precious classics were not protected. As far as our cars areconcerned we can use treatments such as Waxoyl, Dinitrol, Jenolite, Tetroseal etc to protect the chassis and box sections but covering our tools with a waxy substance might not work quite so well. The other option is to create the ideal humidity by removing moisture. Metal will still rust but it will take much, much longer. Many people think that if their cars are in the garage everything is OK but the opposite could be true. In many cases a car will rust less if left outside rather than in a damp unventilated garage, especially if it’s made of concrete. The ideal solution is to invest in proper dehumidifier or climate controlled container and they come in a variety of forms and prices. Here’s our top selection.


These simply remove moisture by passing air over a cold coil to cool it below the dew point. This releases the water onto the coil as condensation which then drips into a collector tank or is piped direct to a drain. The dry air is then passed over a hot coil to bring its temperature a few degrees above the ambient air. While it is tempting to nip into the nearest discount store and buy a domestic de-humidifier for a hundred quid, bear in mind that while okay, these units are not really designed to be used below about 50 ° F. The type suitable for garages need a defrosting system which prevents freezing and allow the unit to work down to 5° of frost. In large spaces a completely different type of de-humidifier is used. From experience, a good supplier of dehumidifiers is Dry-it-out - 0870 0117987 - The outfit’s web site is excellent and offers general information on keeping the dreaded rust at bay. Recommended de-humidifiers are:

Mitsubishi MJ-E16S-E1 at £289 RUBY-DRY DH600 at £199

Both these machines will keep the humidity at the right levels in a standard size double garage and both can be simply connected into the drainage system. The advantage of de-humidifiers is that they prevent everything in the garage which is made of metal from rusting and also provide a decent environment in which to work on your car during the winter months.

Draughmate 0790 456 1717–

Somewhat left field are the range of products offered by Draughtmate; dedicated curtain and flexible shutters which go a long way to keeping the cold out. Of most interest is the roller shutter model that provides an effective seal against the weather as it is attached to the garage’s walls by fixed Velcro fasteners, enabling quick removal if you want to get the car out. A typical double garage model will cost £100 and a single for £80, plus carriage. It comes in a variety of colours.

  • Anybody who simply puts his or her car away for the winter by shutting the garage door is a fool. A classic needs proper care over the coming months otherwise expensive damage and deterioration will occur. Here’s our top ten tips to win the cold war!
  • Service the car. Even though you may not be using it until spring, it pays to give it a good going over, changing old oils and filters and so reduce the chance of the mechanics suffering acidic damage. You can buy special storage or preservation oils if you wish, although it’s not necessary for just a few months storage, nor is tuning the engine unless it was bad to start with
  • Oil the works. Concentrate on lubricating items like the suspension, steering and brakes to keep them free during the lay up. A good spray of WD40 around the engine bay and underside will pay dividends come spring
  • Batman lives. If the battery is a few years old it may be on its last legs - and leaving it to drain dry will certainly kill it. Regularly charge it to keep the cells healthy - or swap it with the one in your road car if possible
  • Keep it clean. Wash the car thoroughly before putting it away. Jet washing the underside is essential before touching in stone chips and waxing the bodywork. Do a similar job to the interior as old grit, mud and rubbish will ruin the cockpit if left to fester
  • Cover up? It may not be as wise as it seems and a good ventilated garage will be of greater help. If you want to cover the car, then use a proper breathable cover; old sheets or tarpaulins can creature moisture traps and lead to micro-blister damage of the paintwork
  • Run for your money. Unless the tax, MOT and insurance have lapsed, take the car for an occasional run on a good, dry day to keep the workings fit and healthy
  • Idle time. Failing this, run the engine for half an hour or so and move the car slightly in first and reverse to ensure that the clutch hasn’t seized to the flywheel (some wedge a broom handle to keep the pedal depressed)
  • Don’t get stuck. Wherever you leave the car, lay it up with the handbrake off to prevent the brakes form sticking on (chock the wheels if need be). Some prefer to take the weight off the wheels to prevent flat spots but this will make it difficult to move the car if the need arises. Just ensure that the tyre pressures are kept well topped up
  • Protect yourself. Even though you may not be using the car, don’t let the insurance and MOT expire, especially the former as any problem with the vehicle (such as a fire, theft etc) could leave you unprotected. Many classic insurers offer special lay up policies but they can be as dear as normal ones
  • Finally…If you are restoring a classic car and it’s not even on the road, you should still protect it as best you can over the winter. Many projects have been ruined simply by not storing the parts and trim properly over the winter!

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