Preparing your car for winter storage
Many owners of 'our' type of cars like to put them away over winter time. The question is, how best to store a car? Our thoughts and recommendations are...
Hopefully you’ll have a dry, secure garage you can keep your car in. If not, it’s not the end of the world, but it will obviously influence which of the following you can do:
Thoroughly clean the car including pressure washing the wheel arches and underside. Keep the pressure washer out of the engine bay though! Wax and polish the paintwork.
For the brightwork you might want to consider applying a light coating of Vaseline or spray on WD40 wiping it over with a cloth. Sure, it will need a small amount of extra work to clean it off after the winter, but will keep corrosion at bay
You may want to spray WD40 on underbonnet or other exposed wiring, particularly on older cars.
Make sure your anti-freeze is up to strength.
Connect the battery to a 'battery conditioner' – this continually measures the amount of charge in the battery and when it drops too low, re-chargez the battery, switching off again once the right level is reached. We like the CTEK units - see CTEK Battery Conditioners
Leave the handbrake off if possible.
If your car's a convertible, put the hood up to ensure it doesn’t shrink or lose its shape. This will also help prevent cracking of plastic windows.
Leave the car windows open slightly to allow air circulation.
Fuel will go "off" over time - the tendency for this to happen can be reduced by filling up the tank (the moisture contained in air in a partially filled tank accelerates the rate at which fuel goes stale). It is also worth putting a fuel additive into the tank, e.g. Forte's Advanced Formula Gas Treatment, and running the engine for a short while to ensure it circulates through the system. A full tank will also help reduce corrosion on the inside of the tank.
To help prevent your tyres getting ‘flat spots’ pump them up by an extra 10 – 15 psi. Even better use axle stands or you can try ‘tyre trainers’ – for more information on these click here
If you think your garage may get visits from mice, consider a few traps. Every year we see a number of cars with rodent damage – it could be nibbled interior trim, mangled wiring, nests in air filters, you name it! Often remarkably expensive to put right.
Use a car cover if you have one and make sure your garage is well ventilated. The ultimate is using an inflatable cover which protects the car and keeps a constant, drying airflow circulating round it. One manufacturer is Carcoon – see www.carcoon.com
At least once a month, run the engine until it is properly warm.
Even better than just running up the car in the garage, take it out for a drive if the weather is fine; it will do it good and you’ll enjoy it as well!
Each spring, we end up fixing a sizable number of problems caused by cars being laid up incorrectly or not run or driven during the winter months. These could be non working brakes, seized clutches, electrical problems...you have been warned!
Remember that if you don’t want to tax your car over winter time, then to avoid an automatic fine, you’ll need to complete a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notice). You can do this online at SORN declaration
At the end of winter, check the car over carefully before going out for a first drive. Pay particular attention to brakes and electrics.