The thrill of driving for the sake of it and with no destination in mind? The appreciation for the craftsmen’s manual work and their time-consuming investment in a classic’s elegant bodywork? The simplicity and the magic of the unfiltered experience of driving?
The nostalgia for the good bygone years and different values, or simply a James Bond fantasy if you have an Aston Martin DB5 in Silver Birch? Whatever the reason for his fascination, it is because of it that its owner tries to achieve the best results in terms of both classic car storage and maintenance.
However, if you’re new to the game, coming to grips and learning about the tasks of upkeep is a priority. Your beloved vintage ride needs lots of love, but it is all part of the pleasure of owning one.
Finding a suitable storage location
When tucking it away during the winter months, you will want the best conditions there are for your joy ride. Firstly, the place should, primarily, be clean, dark, as well as moisture-free.
Secondly, proper preparation and maintenance of your old car during the off-season is not to be skipped if you want it to remain in pristine condition when the time comes for you to take it for that sublime springtime drive.
Caption: Besides renting a dedicated storage unit for your car, another option is storing it in your home garage.
Alt-text: Two men next to a classic ride.
But, as for storage, your best bet for long-term, seasonal storing, although somewhat costly, is a dedicated storage facility. The fact that it is time-tested, as well as moisture and climate-controlled, could provide you with peace of mind.
Storage units are also a great option because most facilities have on-site security. This will allow you to keep your car safe without worrying whether something will happen to it.
The second but less than ideal option for keeping your car sheltered is your very own residential garage, providing you live in a house. A brick garage is the safest solution against the elements, but a wooden garage will do the trick as well. In any event, make sure the temperature is stable and that the doors have padlocks installed for extra security.
Inspect the fluids
Keeping your vehicle’s fluids in good condition is one of the primary forms of classic car storage and maintenance, both generally and while put away. So, make sure you conduct regular checkups.
For example, oil is vital to the proper functioning of a classic car’s system, and changing it should be a routine (every 3000 to 5000 miles, or twice a year) even if you are not driving the car and even if it appears clean on the dipstick. Of course, you should not forget about filter replacement as well.
Check the condition of your coolant
Your car’s coolant is imperative for the engine’s longevity, as it keeps your vehicle’s radiator from freezing up during winter months as well as from overheating. So, look under your radiator cap regularly, most preferably several times per season, to make sure that your cooling system is working correctly and there are no antifreeze leaks.
How to check? A good indicator, for instance, would be the color of your coolant. There are several types of coolant, and typically, pre-1980 vintage rides have a green colored one. Therefore, if it is still green, it is fine; whereas, if it’s brown from rust, you need to drain it and flush the system before filling it with fresh coolant. Another way to check whether its condition is serviceable or not is by using a hydrometer or test strips. As for the filling, a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze is the safest way to protect your engine block from severe temperatures.
Caption: Regular inspection of the fluids in your car affects its smooth operation, and, consequently, its longevity.
Alt-text: A man leaning over a read automobile.
Tackle the tires
Warped tires could be a direct consequence when your vehicle hasn’t been driven for an extended period. On the other hand, new quality, high-performance tires are an expensive investment. Thankfully, two solutions to this issue are in order:
- If you do not intend to drive your classic car for some time, one way of tire maintenance is to place your carriage on jack stands to relieve the weight from your vehicle’s tires and avoid flat-spotting while in storage.
- Inflate the tires of your car to the maximum recommended PSI, or over. As the temperature gradually tends to drop during the autumn and winter months, low tire pressure follows. Overinflation is a quick fix when it comes to helping them keep their shape.
Tend to the battery when dealing with classic car storage and maintenance
Another aspect that you should not overlook is the maintenance of the battery of your classic automobile. If you do not plan on starting the car every now and then, you can choose to remove the battery altogether and preserve its charge.
If you do, make sure to invest in a good battery tender that will keep it well functioning during its stay in storage. Of course, you can decide to fire the car up from time to time as well. Wake it up from its rest, possibly every few weeks, and keep it running for roughly 10 minutes in order to give it that needed charge. You can turn on your car stereo as well to help keep the battery running smoothly.
Give it a thorough clean
Before storing it, as well as every few months or so, you will need to thoroughly clean your car in order to protect it against all causes of rust or corrosion, as well as of mold and bad odors.
Remove the substances that can have a detrimental effect on your vehicle, such as dirt and dust, as well as any salt that might have stuck to the car from the winter roads.
Lastly, since you will also want to protect it from moisture in general, another thing to note is to make sure it has completely dried off from washing before you place it back in storage.
If you are not sure how to tackle this part of maintenance, professional detailing services in Los Angeles can be the best choice. Experts know how to properly clean your car so that it is ready for storing, and you should not risk damage by trying to handle it all by yourself.
Caption: A thorough clean of the car implies the exterior as well as the interior.
Alt-text: The interior of an old car.
Apply a thin coat of wax on the exterior
After getting your car spotless, apply a wax coating as a finish. Besides the fact that wax brings out the best of your ride’s paint and gives it that perfect gloss finish, this step is a way of creating a protective barrier on your finish.
It maintains and shields your classic vehicle from day-to-day-hazards as well as any damage that can be caused by the moisture or dust that accumulate in your storage area over time.
Keep the tank full
Prevent premature condensation damage by refueling your car’s tank. As opposed to E10 fuels, by keeping your car’s tank full with fresh ethanol-free fuel, you have a much better chance of avoiding corrosion inside carburetors. Also, consider adding a fuel stabilizer to preserve gas when your vehicle is out of use.
As mentioned beforehand, in typical situations, leaving the tank empty would be asking for trouble. However, there’s one exception. When moving your household to a different residence, besides the fact that you need to choose the best option for shipping your vehicle if you want it to arrive in a perfect state, you should be aware that it’s recommended by auto transport companies that your tank be only a quarter full. In other words, while your car is stored in an auto carrier shipping container, a full tank leads to an overweight load and a potential hazard.
Encourage air circulation
Leave two of the front windows slightly open to allow air to circulate more easily. This way, when you finally decide to take your car out for a drive, you will avoid having to deal with any unpleasant and undesirable odors that have been gathering inside over time.
Leaving them slightly ajar keeps the cabin fresh and free from that stale scent and mold growth that could otherwise ruin the interior leather or some other material.
Run the engine from time to time
It would be useful to start the car every couple of weeks to check if everything is in order. This will give your vehicle the chance to recharge its battery and get fluids circulating a bit. Also, it provides for a great dose of comfort to ensure your car is up and running and ready to go whenever you need it.
So, why not take it for a spin while you are at it? Classic car storage and maintenance is something you should not neglect, as it can make the difference between a functioning and a deteriorating vehicle. Everything about classic vehicles gets car enthusiasts’ heart racing, so grab the chance to spend some time with your baby, even if it’s just a drive around the block. But, of course, remember to remove all road salt once you return it to its place of rest.