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Cold Comfort

Cold Comfort Published: 30th Jan 2020 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
Cold Comfort
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Here’s 20 top tips to ensure that you store your classic away safely over the winter

Just because you’ve a warm cosy garage, that doesn’t mean that all you have to do is park up and put your feet up! It’s that your idea of storage then it is only storing up trouble for next spring when comes to recommissioning. By sparing half a day and a few pounds you’ll be quids in when the snow (and 2020 show) season starts.

The garage

Start with gaint no holes barred tidy up and clear out to ensure any stuff on the shelves can’t fall on your classic by being too overloaded. Check out Rapid Racking ( and Big Dug ( for some novel, space saving ideas here. 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. 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.

Air bubbles

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 types can be used outside as well so there’s no excuse for not protecting your car.

Car covers

A proper full or part car cover gives welcome additional protection against physical damage and damp. 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 value for money car covers, starting from £50, designed for the job with the more pricier alternatives tailor-made for specific classics.


Clean the underside to get rid of any nasties and allow to dry before putting the vehicle away. If you have the time, dousing the underside and every nook and cranny with an anti-rust preserving fluid before car is laid up is not a bad idea at all.

Body wash

A little time here reaps big rewards. A good wash and wipe over is a given before you lay your classic up as any dirt, bird lime, etc, will be much more difficult to remove if allowed to fester and will in most cases permanently mark the paintwork.


In many cases a vehicle will rust less if left outside rather than in a damp unventilated garage, especially a prefab type. Air contains moisture, gathering condensation meaning rusting will start along with the formation of mould and so on. A dehumidifier 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 3p per hour. You can buy a basic yet effective unit for around £100 and for what it is protecting, is certainly money well spent.

Engine oil change

Not essential but a good idea even if the unit isn’t to be run as old lube may contain harmful acids that can lead to internal corrosion over the lay up period although 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, giving off a mist which protects the inner workings as the oil lays in the sump but change the oil before using the vehicle.


Attend to any stone chips or exposed scratches before storing, any paint (or polish etc) suffices until you can repair the damage properly – The important thing is to cover that bare metal.

Polish and waxing

A personal thing as some recommend leaving the old paint alone as a polish will wastefully remove another layer of paint. Others 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. Having said that, we’d always leave a wax or polish on any chrome surfaces.


Leaving any dirt or stains to linger ruins a good interior. If possible, remove the carpets and store them indoors (lofts are ideal being nice and warm) to prevent mildew damage – door cards if they cab be safely removed. It’s best to shut all windows and vents but open up regularly to allow fresh air to flow in.

Anti seizure

Engines which haven’t run for a while can partly seize up. If you don’t intend to touch the vehicle at all during the winter, it may be advisable to remove the spark plugs and pour some upper cylinder lubricant, such as Redex (some use plain diesel oil), down the cylinder bores to provide a film of protection but loosely refit the spark plugs afterwards. 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 and easy.


A grease gun, oil can and WD-40 should be used liberally where you can. A water repellent spray should be used in the engine bay, over the electrics, throttle linkages and so on to prevent surface rusting. Also check and replenish all fluid levels.


Unleaded goes stale if left dormant and can damage the fuel lines and carbs. Some advise totally draining out the old fuel and running the engine until what’s left is spent. However, an empty tank is prone to attract condensation leading to possible internal rust so you can’t win but there are special additives to combat this, which you mix with the fuel and run with briefly to protect the fuel system. You’ll need some fresh unleaded for when you next start up naturally.


Anti-freeze loses its properties to prevent icing up and resisting internal engine corrosion in service so replace yours if in doubt. However, this product is going the same direction as engine oils meaning the days of a universal protectant is over now specific types are on the market, although this applies only to moderns. Mix the wrong type (such as long life OAT type) and you can, long term, do more harm than good as some are incompatible and will gum up the works and clog the water pump. If you intend to change your anti-freeze (a cheap £5 tester will tell you if it’s necessary this year, or simply place a sample of it in your freezer overnight!), flush the old stuff out beforehand and use a concentrate of around 33-50 per cent to be on the safe side. Higher concentrations can be counter productive as neat anti-freeze solidifies under minus 10 Centigrade.


To prevent flat spots forming on tyres you can either support the vehicle on axle stands or regularly move the vehicle, our preferred option after raising their pressures slightly. Covering ’em up isn’t a bad idea.


Leaving your car’s battery unattended and uncared for may well kill it. If possible, remov from the vehicle to trickle charge regularly at home or buy a smart charger which can be left plugged in and automatically top up the battery. At the very least, disconnect the box of sparks to prevent chances of an electrical fire.

Test drive

Inactivity is a car killer and regular 10 mile jaunts to keep the workings free and easy and warm the engine up is the best policy so long as you have kept the insurance, tax and MoT up to speed.

Free running

If possible leave the handbrake off to prevent the brakes locking on, (chock the wheels for safety sake naturally). Clutch plates can rust onto the flywheel but you can prevent this by wedging a broom handle (or similar) to keep the pedal fully depressed. However, we’d sooner check on the car every couple of weeks to pump the pedals while applying the handbrake to keep all the mechanisms free and easy and would also include the gearbox and steering in this workout.


Ongoing restorations need similar care as by not preserving the car (and its parts, which may be dismantled) over the winter months, you will be undoing all the previous good work. A can of wd-40 may be all it requires.

Professional help

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 is usually good value for money. Professional car storage outfits can provide round the clock care for as little as £30 a week. Given what it can save by preventing damage it could be money well spent.

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