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Storing Your Car for Winter

covered carIt’s that time of year again, where the cold northern wind sends a reminder that winter is coming. While you can easily bundle up and deal with the cold and snow, your car might need to go into hibernation. Whether it’s a classic or antique or a supercar or other overpowered ride that hates ice, you need a winter hibernation plan until better temperatures return. Here’s a quick look at what it takes to successfully store your car for winter.

Location

Ideally, you would have a climate controlled garage to keep your vehicle at an acceptable temperature and humidity at all times. Full climate control garages are rare, so work with what you have.

If storing in an unheated garage, take a look at the garage insulation kits sold at home improvement retailers. For about $100 the insulation kit will massively increase the garage’s heat retention. For another $25 or so that same retailer probably sells an oil-filled radiator style heater. It won’t make it comfy in there, but it will take the dangerous bite out of the winter.

If you do not have a garage, try to park somewhere off soil. Grass parking sports are for car shows, not long term storage. The mud, debris, and weeds are not friendly to your ride and can damage it worse than the ice. A cement pad under a carport will help prevent a lot of Mother Nature’s damaging effects.

Fluids and Tune up

Adding Engine CoolantBefore storage, completely wash and wax your car. You may have seen an old tip about leaving the wax on hazed and not buffing out. That is an old wives’ tale. Tests have proven buffing the wax is just as protective, while being much less of a pain in the spring.

Check the oil and change if it looks contaminated or if the mileage tells you it is time. Replace the filters and take a close look at the brakes. Take a moment to look for any issues and fix them now. Letting a leaky rear main seal sit all winter only makes it worse.

If everything is good to go, fill all the reservoirs with their appropriate fluid. If the fuel tank, brake reservoir, and such are filled with liquid, condensation can’t form and cause issues later. While filling the tank with fuel, toss in a few ounces of stabilizer, especially if you don’t expect to refill within 90 days.

Final Bits

Pull into your storage area and put the car on jackstands. This prevents the tires from forming flat spots. It will also make it easier to spot any drips, letting you know if winter is going to be an extended maintenance period.

Lower the windows an inch, so the interior gets some air circulation. If you leave it entirely closed, there is a higher change of mold developing, or at least an unwelcome musty smell when you go for your first spring drive.

Find a high quality cover designed for your vehicle. They are affordable, especially when you consider the high level of protection a good cover provides and how many years of use you will get out of it. If the cover doesn’t extend over your tail pipes, use sandwich bags and rubber bands to make them impenetrable to rodents.

While tossing your ride in the garage and calling it a day is certainly easier, just a few hours of work will ensure your car is ready for spring when you are.

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