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Winter Care

Winter Care Published: 29th Jan 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
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They reckon on a bad one this year… so prepare your classic for hibernation now

If you haven’t started thinking about putting your classic(s) away for the winter, then you should do – now! But anybody who simply drives their pride and joy into their garage and simply shuts the door until next spring is simply asking for trouble – yet many do.

It’s not terribly difficult or expensive to thoroughly prepare your classic for its big sleep and a day pampering will pay off handsomely when you next come to use it in 2018. Here’s the drill.

The garage

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 too overloaded.

Check out Rapid Racking (www. and Big Dug for some novel, space saving ideas here.

Attend to defective roofing now as a bad storm is sure to make it worse. Any leaks should be halted but don’t fret about draughts as these can 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.

Car covers

Most folks reckon that a garage provides all the protection you need over the winter but this just 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 microblistering of the paint that will be very expensive to properly rectify.

There’s a range of inexpensive car covers, starting from £50, designed for the job with the more pricier alternatives 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.

Car care


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 be much more difficult to remove if allowed to fester. Some folks like to give the body a good waxing too, but you can argue that as you’re effectively removing a film of paint that provides valuable protection, it’s 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 sealant. 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 chrome surfaces.


Always clean the underside of the bodywork (steam or jet wash) to get rid of any nasties and allow to dry naturally before putting the vehicle away. If you have the time, dousing the underside and every nook and cranny with a 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 indoors (lofts are nice and warm) to prevent mildew damage – door cards too. It’s best to shut all windows and vents but open up regularly to allow fresh air in.


Oil change

Opinions are divided on changing the engine oil, especially if the unit isn’t to be run. Unless changed recently, old lube may contain harmful acids that can lead to internal corrosion over the lay up but you don’t need to change the filter until the spring.

Dedicated storage oils are available, from the likes of Millers, Penrite and Morris Lubricants. These give off a mist which protects the inner workings as the oil lays in the sump but change it before using the vehicle in earnest.

We’d 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 all yourself, ask your specialist or marque expert to give your car a winter service and check over; many provide this service and usually good value for money.

Engine care

If you don’t intend to touch the vehicle at all during the winter months, it may be advisable to remove the spark plugs and pour some upper cylinder lubricant, such as Redex (some owners have used plain diesel oil), down the cylinder bores to provide a film of protection (loosely 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 so quickly! Instead, periodically turn the engine over manually with a spanner on the crank pulley (or roll it back and forth in gear with the plugs removed) to keep it free.

Unleaded petrol

Unlike the old leaded stuff, unleaded goes stale if left dormant and can, in extreme instances, make a right old mess of the fuel lines and carbs. Some specialists advise totally draining out the old fuel and running the engine until what’s left is spent. That said, an empty tank is prone to attract condensation leading to possible internal rust and it’s a tedious job at best… There are a special additive to combat this, which you mix with the fuel and run with briefly to protect the fuel system and you’ll need some fresh unleaded for when you next start up.

Wonder sprays

No classic owner should be without WD40 or a similar product! They should be sprayed liberally around the engine bay and particularly on the electrics, to keep moisture and surface rust forming on the carbs, throttle linkages, electrical terminals and so on. Don’t forget the door locks, window mechanisms and the hood’s frame, sunroof, either.


Penny to a pound that if you leave your car’s battery unattended and uncared for over the winter months, no matter how healthy and sparky it was previously, it will be toast! If possible, remove it from the vehicle to trickle charge regularly at home. You can buy smart chargers which can be left plugged in and automatically top up the battery. If this is not feasible or affordable, then at the very least, disconnect the battery to prevent chances of an electrical fire.

Seizure prevention

Lack of use over the cold season invariably causes some sort of sticky trouble. Leave the handbrake off to prevent the brakes locking on, although do chock the wheels for safety sake. Similarly, the clutch plate can rust onto the flywheel. You can prevent this by using a broom handle, or similar, to keep the pedal fully depressed. However, we’d sooner check on the car every couple of weeks (always a good idea-ed) to pump the pedals while applying the handbrake to keep all the mechanisms free and easy – and include the gearbox and steering in this workout exercise.

Regular checks

Years ago, the practice was to put a vehicle on blocks so the tyres don’t develop flat spots and while it works, it’s an inconvenience, plus hinders moving the vehicle – so there’s a bit of a safety issue. We’d just inflate the tyres to their highest pressure and regularly roll the car to prevent flats forming. But the best way to keep your classic in the rudest of health is to simply keep on using it, weather permitting, as lack of activity is the worst killer of all.

Anti-freeze: Don’t be colour blind

Anti-freeze is going the same direction as engine oil meaning the days of a universal protectant are well and truly over as vehicle manufacturer specific types come on the market. Use the wrong type and you can, long term, do more harm than good. And you can’t go by the colour of an anti-freeze anymore either, warn makers. Be careful mixing the formulations as, modern long life ‘OAT’ formulations, especially can go all gooey as a result and gum up the waterways and clog the pump. Typically, you’re looking for protection down to -25 Centigrade or more to be safe. You can’t go far wrong with a 50/50 mix.

A waterless alternative to coolant

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 around £70 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 tried 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.

Dehumidifiers – Just a lot of hot air?

Although your classic is going to be (hopefully) safely tucked up in a garage you may be doing it more harm than leaving it outside to the elements. Why? In a word condensation. All air contains moisture – as it cools to reach the point the dew point any steel object below the dew point, gathers condensation and rusting will start along with the formation of mould and so on. In many cases a vehicle will rust less if left outside rather than in a damp unventilated garage, especially a prefab type. What you need is a dehumidifier to remove moisture in the air.

Basically, it works like a fridge in reverse; sucking in the air from the garage and taking out the moisture into a built-in reservoir. Running costs are said to be as low as 3 pence an hour. You can buy a basic unit for around £100 and for what it is protecting, is certainly money well spent. Another alternative is to have a special all singing and dancing air bubble which also protects the vehicle at the same time.

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