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Winter Care

Winter Care Published: 22nd Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
Winter Care
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As it’s been pretty mild so far, if you haven’t already done so it’s probably time to tuck your classic up for the winter. But simply parking up and shutting the garage doors to forget all about it is storing a lot of trouble and expense come next spring. But by sparing half a day and a few pounds you’ll be quids in when the snow (and show) season starts. Here’s how.

Laws of the lock up

Don’t start with your classic, sort out its home – the garage first. A thorough long overdue tidy up is first. Put away everything you can safely that may otherwise fall on the vehicle or impede working in the garage over winter. Attend to any repairs now as a damp leaky garage is a haven for rust although a degree of ventilation is a good thing. Rapid Racking (01285 686869 http://www.rapidracking.com and Big Dug: Tel 08459666000, http://www.bigdug.co.uk) both offer a range of affordable racking systems to make your lock up safer and more orderly, for instance.

Put your coat on

If you don’t have the luxury of a cosy lock up, don’t fret as there are some excellent heavy-duty tailored car covers that will protect your prized classic equally well, including dedicated air bubbles which seal the car in a special protective environment. Names worth knowing are Carcoon (01617379690 carcoon.co.uk), Cairo- Port, Permabag and Airflow (01367 718550 airflow-uk.com) selling them from as little as a few hundred pounds. Also check out Metex car covers (01254 704625www.cardustcovers.co.uk) who has a good range of protective clothing.

Come clean

Before tucking your classic away, give it a thorough clean as leaving old dirt and grime on the body (and the interior) will cause problems come spring-time. Just a good wash and leather down suffices although you can go further – the more you do now means the less when you recommission it.

A Polished Performance

Some like to give their classic a good old fashioned polish and we’ve nothing against this. However, we don’t advise cutting the body finish back – indeed, that old layer of fading paint actually acts as a useful protective shield. Similarly don’t use that old trick of putting a coat of wax on the body to act as a barrier because once dust and dirt settles it can act like a grinding paste.

Underneath the arches…

Leaving your clean classic in a dry garage over the months simply isn’t adequate enough to keep corrosion at bay. If possible, clean the underside (steam or jet wash) and apply wax/oil-based preserving fluid plus attend to stone chips or exposed wounds before storing. Don’t go concours… any paint (or polish etc) to cover the damage will do until you can repair it properly – the important thing is to protect that bare metal.

Oiling the works

Changing the engine oil even if the unit isn’t to be run over the lay up is a good idea as the old lube may well contain harmful acids that lead to internal corrosion. Special storage oils are available from the likes of Millers, Penrite and Morris Lubricants: they give off a mist which protects the inner workings. Also go mad with your grease gun.

Insider dealing

Hoover the interior out and clean off any stains or grime on the trim because it will only worsen over the winter. lay up. If it’s possible, remove the carpets and store them in your house to prevent possible mildew damage. Close the car’s windows and air vents, but open the car up regularly to allow fresh air to circulate as well as preventing musty smells.

Spray that again

That essential for every classic owner – WD40 or similar – should be sprayed liberally about to prevent surface rust forming on the carbs, throttle linkages, battery terminals and so on. And don’t forget the door locks, window mechanisms and the hood’s frame, either.

The ice age

Don’t be a cheapskate by simply draining the engine’s cooling system – always keep quality antifreeze in it, and replace every few years. True, in theory, an engine sans water can’t freeze up and crack the engine block or blow a core plug, but good anti-freeze also contains corrosion inhibitors.

April fuels?

There’s always split opinion over what to do with the fuel in the tank as unleaded petrol can go ‘off’ if left dormant. On the other hand, an empty tank attracts condensation leading to possible internal rust as well as gummed up fuel lines – you can’t win! A fair compromise, however, is to leave the tank half full, and to add a gallon or two of the fresh stuff when you are about to bring the car out of storage.

Banish battery blues

As we remarked last month, apparently, according to The Battery Council, at least a third of all batteries that are scrapped are perfectly fit and healthy – once they have been expertly recharged… So don’t automatically throw yours away next spring! Inevitably, it discharge itself over the winter so if possible, remove battery completely to trickle charge it regularly. If this is not feasible, then disconnect the box of sparks to prevent any chance of an electrical fire but even so you really should charge it up every now and then to keep the plates fit and healthy.

Stuck in a rut

Lack of use can cause other sorts of freezing. Leave the handbrake off to prevent the brakes locking on (but chock the wheels for safety’s sake). The clutch plate can rust onto the flywheel; prevent by using a broom handle (or similar) to keep the pedal fully depressed. Failing this, check on the car every couple of weeks (always a good idea anyway) and work the pedals and handbrake a few times to keep all the mechanisms free.

Facts on anti-freeze

Like engine oils, anti-freeze has gone the same route and a one size that fits all philosophy doesn’t apply anymore. Using the wrong one can do more harm than good as a reaction with a different formulation can turn the coolant into a paste – need we say more?

Anti-free is all ethyleneglycol- based these days, the difference lies in the performance packages added, essentially to combat engine corrosion. There are three types of brew: Silicate, OAT (Organic Acid Technology, no less!) and latterly a special OAT/ Silicate hybrid – they all do their job in different ways .

It’s very confusing but OAT technology is primarily for modern and anything pre 1990 is just as well protected with an old school anti-freeze such as Halfords Silicate, Comma’s Coldstream or Bluecol.

If you intend to change your engine’s 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 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.

Seasonal service

Why not ask your local classic car specialist or marque expert to give your car a winter service and check over before putting it away? Some have special winter promotions and it’s invariably money well spent.

One good turn…

Engines which haven’t been run for a while can partly seize and during starting up could well break their piston rings. Slowly turn the engine over manually with a spanner to free it off gently. Some enthusiasts advocate pouring some upper cylinder lubricant such as Redex down to bores to keep them well lubricated; a wise ploy.

Condensation Capers

Believe it or not, your car is safer – corrosion-wise that is – when left out in the open to the elements rather than stored in a cold damp concentre-built garage. It’s down to condensation. Air contains moisture and when it reaches what’s known as ‘dew point’ it will settle on any object, which is why your car can look wet in a supposedly dry but unventilated garage. The answer is to buy a dehumidifier, which works in the opposite way a fridge does and so sucks moisture out of the air and places it in a ‘trap’ that you have to periodically empty. They cost from as little as £100 and around 3p per hour in electric charges. Cheap insurance you’ll agree consdering what such a unit will be protecting, plus a dehumidifier can be worked even with a car cover.

A weighty issue needs addressing

Should you raise the car up on stands taking the weight off the suspension and tyres? Years ago this practice was the done thing but opinions have changed, given of the inconvenience of jacking the car up, plus hindering its movement. Instead over inflate the tyres and roll the car frequently to prevent ‘flats’ forming.

Forget me not

Don’t forget to visit and keep a regular check on the car over the winter. If the car is under a flimsy pvc cover, remove it periodically and check the bodywork for damp damage, which can show up as microscopic blistering of the paint – nasty yet avoidable wounds that are hard and expensive to rectify.

Exercise routine

Idleness is big classic killer. Just letting yours stand and sulk will only lead to future trouble. A regular run does any car – and you for that matter – a power of good. Not just give a quickie round the block though, but a decent 10 mile exercise.

Professional help

If you feel that your classic deserves it, a professional car storage outfit 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.

Project fear

Ongoing restorations need similar care as many a pricey project has been spoiled by not preserving the car (and its parts, which may be dismantled) over the winter months, undoing all the previous good work. A can of WD-40 may be all it requires.

Get planning

Do something before winter suddenly takes hold – like this weekend! Then ponder son your classic and make plans for 2019 – starting with recommissioning!



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