10 Tips for
Long-Term Classic Car Storage
- Make sure your gas tank
is full. This will reduce the amount of water
that can be absorbed
by the gasoline and it also slows the rate
at which it turns to varnish. Use and additive
like "Sta-Bil", "Dry Gas" or
similar. Make sure it's well mixed and run
the car for a while to make sure it's in the
entire fuel system.
- Freezing temperatures naturally dictate that
anti-freeze be used. But even if it's not freezing,
put it in. Many of the newer 'coolants' have
excellent corrosion inhibitors that will help
protect and lubricate your cooling system.
A 50/50 anti-freeze/water mix is fine. Again
make sure to run the car so it's mixed throughout
the entire system.
- Change the engine oil. Dirty oil is contaminated
with acids and water that can cause premature
bearing failure and rust inside the engine.
If the car is likely to be left for a very
long period of time unattended, remove the
sparkplugs and liberally squirt some form of
'upper-cylinder lubricant' into the cylinders
before replacing the plugs. This will help
stop the piston rings from rusting to the cylinder
- Make sure the Brake and Clutch master cylinders
are full of brake fluid. Brake fluid can absorb
water very quickly. By reducing the exposed
surface area of the fluid, the water absorption
can be reduced. If you can, bleed the brake
and clutch systems. It is recommended that
you do this on an annual basis anyway, to purge
the system of old and possibly contaminated
- To inhibit rust in the engine area, use a
lubricant spray such as WD40 to coat all exposed
metal surfaces. The volatile carrier in the
WD40 will soon evaporate leaving a protective
film on the hose clamps, coils, carb bodies
etc. 'Wax-oyl' is also good, but you'll want
to hose it off at a 'car wash' in the Spring.
- Wash the entire car and apply a good wax.
Don't forget to clean the inside. Do this early
in the day to give it plenty of time to thoroughly
dry before putting it in storage.
- If you have a convertible top, leave it up
and the windows and vents closed. A convertible
top can develop nasty creases when folded for
long periods, especially in cold climates.
Treat Vinyl tops with Silicone or similar.
Keeping the windows and vents closed keeps
small creatures from entering. But buy some
desiccant sacs from a storage supply house
'Dry Pac' for example and place them inside
the car on the floors. This will keep moisture
from damaging the interior if it is damp or
humid where you are.
- Ensure that the boot is clean and dry, The
boot seal is not always positive and some moisture
can collect and condense in the inner fenders
and floor. Air it out well for a day or so,
then place a desiccant sac in here too before
closing it up.
- Finally, take the car on a good 30 minute
run. This will evaporate all the moisture in
the exhaust and in the engine. Then park the
car with the hand brake off and either 'chock'
the wheels or leave it in gear if necessary.
Over inflating the tires can help guard against
flat spots. Disconnect the battery.
- The best thing to do for a stored car is
to visit it once a month and take it for a
short drive. This keeps everything in good
shape, preventing things from getting corroded
and seals drying out. At the very least have
some one start it up periodically. If you are
going to cover it use a proper Cloth car cover,
not a Plastic one. If you find the concrete
floor in your storage unit gets damp or 'sweats'
use cat litter, or lay plastic beneath the
car to prevent the condensation from reaching
your floor pans.