The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your Classic Car For Long Term Storage
Preparing to store your classic car or sports car for long term storage for 6 months or more, or even over the winter months, sounds like a simple enough process.
And, generally speaking, it is.
But it’s important to cover off a few essential procedures before you put your vehicle away either in your own garage, someone elses garage or in a dedicated classic car storage facility.
After all, if you want to keep your classic car safe and in good condition, you’ll need to do a little more than just parking it up on the street, throwing a cover over it and walking away for several months.
That’s why we’ve created this: The Ultimate Guide to Preparing Your Classic Car For Long Term Storage.
It explains the basics of preparing your vehicle for storage and breaks the process down into manageable actions.
A list of ten simple steps to help anyone confidently hibernate their classic car or sports car, even if you don’t have expert knowledge of vehicles and their inner-workings.
The benefits of proper servicing before long term car storage
Now, before you do anything else, if you’re not particularly handy with a wrench or have a fear of Swarfega, our first recommendation is always this: seriously consider getting your classic car serviced by either a good local dealership or trusted independent garage prior to storage.
Explain to them that you’ll be storing your classic car for an extended period. The garage will most likely prescribe basic topping up (or changing for new) of all the fluids to the correct levels – such as oil, coolant and brake fluid, as well as changing the oil filter.
Let’s start with a quick overview of how to prepare your classic car for storage. Reading through this list first should help give you a better idea of the process. Then we’ll get into the finer points of each step.
Our ‘Ultimate Guide To Prepare Your Classic Car for Long Term Storage’ has 11 valuable steps to follow:
Step 1. Get your classic car valeted inside and out
Step 2. Check for rubbish under seats and in the seat, door and glove pockets
Step 3. Fill the fuel tank with fuel
Step 4. Park up with the bonnet facing out
Step 5. Attach your classic car’s battery to a fit-for-purpose battery conditioner
Step 6. Leave your handbrake off and the classic car in gear (or in ‘P’ for park)
Step 7. Leave a window open slightly for internal air circulation
Step 8. Put a bung in the exhaust pipe(s) and cover air intakes, cover with a soft indoor classic car cover
Step 9. Check your classic car every 30 days minimum
Step 10. Leave a visible checklist of reminders
Step 11. Check your tyres and adjust the pressures
Be sure to keep Step 10 in the forefront of your mind whilst preparing your classic car for storage – and maybe even keep a running list as you do the other steps.
Now, let’s look at each step in more detail.
Step 1. Get Your Classic car Valeted inside and Out
Get your classic car valeted inside and out – and make sure the classic car is completely dry before you put any kind of cover over it.
To be sure, either take the classic car for a short spirited run (10-15mins) just after rinsing to dry the brake pads and other hard-to-dry areas.
Spending the extra time to do this will avoid rust building up during winter storage.
Step 2. Check Under Seats and in the Seat, Door and Glove Pockets
Check for hidden litter in your classic car – especially anything perishable or edible, which could rot or attract unwanted attention.
It’s obvious when you think about it, but believe me, you’d be surprised what I find under classic car seats, in boots and in door and seat pockets!
Step 3. Fill the Fuel Tank with Fuel
Fill the fuel tank to the brim with a premium grade fuel – this helps avoid condensation building up in the tank.
If you’re worried about the fuel going off, you could try adding some fuel stabiliser to help.
Step 4. Park with the Bonnet facing out
When you store your classic car over winter, in your own garage for example, try to park in your secure, designated space with the bonnet facing out.
The vast majority of classic cars have their batteries at the front, and even if they don’t, there may be points under the bonnet that let you connect to the battery.
It’s far easier to revive or jump-start a classic car with a dead battery if the battery is easy to access.
Plus, the tow bar is often easier to get to from the front if you need to pull the vehicle from its resting place!
Step 5. Attach Your Classic car’s battery to a fit-for-purpose Battery Conditioner
There is no real need to unattach and remove the car’s battery for short term storage of 3 to 6 months – although many car owner forums will have you do just that.
However, it is a good idea to keep the battery maintained and charged.
Buy yourself a good 12v or 6v car battery conditioner (not just a charger) and you’ll be delighted when you car fires up happily after a long rest.
We tend to use and recommend CTek battery conditioners.
Step 6. Leave Your Handbrake off and the car ‘in Gear’ (or in ‘P’ for Park).
When preparing your classic car for long term storage we recommend you leave it either in ‘Park’ if it’s an automatic or in gear.
With the handbrake OFF
This will help prevent your brakes seizing over time. If it makes you feel more comfortable, like if there is a slight incline for example, place wheel chocks in front and behind each tyre to prevent the vehicle from rolling away.
Step 7. Leave a Window Open Slightly for Internal Air Circulation
Always leave a small open gap (enough to get your little finger through it – but not a hand or small furry head!) in the driver’s side window.
This vent will allow air to get into the classic car, avoiding any condensation build-up and rot due to excess moisture developing inside the classic car and potentially ruining interior leather or other internal materials and finishes.
Step 8. Put a Bung in the Exhaust Pipe(s) and Cover Air intakes before you cover with a soft indoor car cover
Depending on where you’re going to store your classic car over, certainly over winter, you may want to consider putting some wire wool in a Jiffy bag and plugging that into the exhaust.
As well it may be worth while plugging any other inviting access holes so that nothing can crawl in and make a home for itself over the winter.
Step 9. Check Your Classic car Every 30 days Minimum
Whilst steps 1 to 8 will help you prepare your classic car for long term storage, ideally (but not essential for short periods of less than a month), you’ll want to go and check on the car. During this periodic check, you should:
- Check the battery conditioner is happy.
- Look over the car to ensure it is generally in good shape.
- Check in the boot, under the bonnet and so on.
- Check the tyres haven’t deflated – sometimes vehicles develop slow punctures that go unnoticed until the vehicle is put into storage (see step 11).
You also might want to start the vehicle, to check it’s still alive – be sure to run it for at least 10 – 15 minutes. Or, better still, if the weather is good, take it for a quick drive until it’s up to temperature.
Remember to follow the rules in the following step; Step 10, should you decide to take the car out of storage.
Step 10. Leave a Visible Checklist of Reminders
Always leave a short checklist of reminders for when you come to take your classic car out of storage.
If there happens to be a nice sunny day, and you do decide to take the car out for a spin during storage (like a trip to the Sunday Scramble in Bicester for example), and especially when taking the car out at the end of a prolonged storage period.
Please be mindful and don’t rush the process.
Be sure you have unattached the battery conditioner.
That you have deflated or inflated your tyres to regular running pressures – see step 11.
Removed any objects protecting exhausts pipes and air intakes.
Step 11. Check Your Tyres and Adjust the Pressures
Check the pressure and condition of each tyre and make a note of these details on your checklist.
It’s often recommended that you take your wheels off the classic car and place them flat on the floor, whilst putting the car on axle stands.
However, this is potentially unnecessary and certainly laborious for short lay up.
If you’re worried about your tyres developing flat-spots while in storage you should either:
- pump the tyres up to 50psi; this will avoid flat spotting (remembering to deflate when it’s time to drive away) or
- roll the wheels and therefore the tyres every 30 days or so.
- Buy yourself some tyre cushions
Another thing to remember before you drive off into the sunset is to check all your ancillary functions are working correctly too…
- Walk around the car and ensure the following are all in working order: lights, headlights, fog lights, brake lights and indicators.
- Before you go anywhere, let the car warm up slowly.
- On the first drive, drive slowly, test the brakes by applying them gradually and safely, listen out for anything unusual.
- Take a phone with you and perhaps start with a short 20-minute circular or looped-back route.
- Make a note of anything you feel uncomfortable with and speak to your local garage.
And finally, the legal bit, if you made a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) for your vehicle prior to storage, now is the time to un-SORN it.
You should also check that your MOT and car tax are still current.
- Taxing your car will cancel any SORN. Read: How to UnSorn your car
- If you need an MOT, by law, you can only drive the car if it’s to a garage for a pre-booked MOT.
Remember that, since the introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) in 2011, your classic car must remain insured while not being used unless you make a SORN. You can apply to make a SORN here.
And if all this seems like way to much time and you’d like a professional to atake away the stress… Let us do it for you 🙂
If you’re planning to put your classic car into professional storage for the long term or indeed just over the winter, the steps outlined above should help to ensure your vehicle stays safe and in good condition until spring.
We hope you’ve found this, our ultimate guide to long term car storage useful and we’d love to hear any of your tricks and tips in the comments section below.
And if you’re looking for a reliable, safe and secure classic car storage facility, please get in touch to discuss your requirements in more detail – 01908 216166
For futher reading, you may also find this post on how to choose the perfect car storage environment interesting.