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Storing Your Car

Classic car enthusiasts usually go through a driving season of two or four months and then store the car for eight to ten months. Or maybe you have a home up north and move south for the winter.
» Part 1: The Basics
» Part 2: Indoor Storage
» Part 3: Outdoor Storage

Indoor Storage

Leave all the windows open and let the car air dry. If your storage area has a dirt or cement floor, lay a large piece of heavy gauge plastic or tarp on the floor to create a vapor barrier. If it has a dirt floor, make a couple of "drive ons" from plywood and put it on top of the vapor barrier.

Take the spark plugs out and put some oil into the cylinders. This will prevent the cylinder walls, pistons and valves from rusting. Regular motor oil is good or you can get a spray can of fogging oil from a marine supply store. Turn the engine over by hand six or seven times to make sure the oil coats everything.

Now put a little anti-seize on the spark plugs and reinstall them. A dab of die-electric grease in the spark plug terminals before reconnecting them will keep them from corroding and make them easier to remove.

Remove the battery cables, negative cable first, and take out the battery. Clean the battery with battery cleaner to remove any dirt or grease that will hold moisture. Put the battery on a clean, dry surface, block of wood or a thick piece of polystyrene is good.

Now hook up a trickle charger, one designed to maintain the batteries charge over a long period of time. While the battery is out, look over the battery box and see if there is any rust or corrosion. Clean and repair any damage as necessary.

Get a tub of white lithium grease and lubricate the hood latch and hinges and the door hinges to keep air and moisture out. Don't use the spray white grease, that stuff is near about useless. Also don't use any type of rust penetrant such as WD-40 or Liquid Wrench; they will dry out.

Inspect the brake fluid. Brake fluid will absorb moisture from the air and will cause the brake system to rust and corrode from the inside out. If it has been more than two years since the brake fluid was replaced, get it flushed and filled with clean, fresh fluid. If the storage period will be two years or more, I recommend using a non-hygroscopic (not moisture-absorbing) silicone brake fluid.

Check the coolant level and make sure it is topped off and the reserve bottle is filled to the proper level. Also check the protection level to make sure it is low enough to protect the cooling system from winter temperatures.

Another very important thing is to keep rodents and other furry varmints out of your vehicle. They love to chew and will chew the ignition wires and wiring harnesses until nothing is left. They will also crawl inside into any opening to find a warm place to nest. I have pulled rats, chipmunks and mice nests out of air filter housings, HVAC ducts and even mufflers.

Sticking clean, heavy rags into the engine air intake, fresh air intake (if there is no screen mesh or cabin air filter) under the windshield and tail pipe. Mice like to use paper and cloth for their nests, so if you have mice in your area covering openings with metal screen mesh or stuffing with aluminum foil will necessary.

If the vehicle will be sitting for longer than five or six months, there is the problem of the tires developing flat spots. To prevent this from happening, get a set of four jack stands of at least a ½ ton capacity. Jack up the vehicle and place the jack stands under the lift points of the vehicle, usually under the lower control arms or under the frame. If you have a dirt floor, place a piece of 12" by 12" by 1" plywood under the jack stands to keep them from sinking into the dirt.

Remove the wiper blades from the wiper arms to prevent them from becoming glued to the windshield and leaving marks. Or you can get a block of wood and put it under the wiper arms to keep the wiper blades up and off the windshield. In either case apply a rubber lubricant to the wiper blades to keep them supple.

When this is all done, get a large container of mothballs and spread them around and under the vehicle to keep varmints away.

» Part 1       » Part 2       » Part 3

Additional Information provided courtesy of and Warranty Direct
© 2000-2007 Vincent T. Ciulla

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