Maybe you're putting your classic ride away until spring comes back so you can drive on snow-free roads. Perhaps you just need to keep your car ready to start at a moment's notice, even when the temperature stays below zero at the warmest part of the day.
Either way, winter weather brings a whole new set of challenges for cars. Let's go over what you need to do to keep your precious automobile from becoming a two-ton paperweight.
Because you may be covering the car with a tarp or dedicated car cover, give it a good wash and wax. Do it by hand, too; you're going to be way more thorough than an automatic car wash. As the cover moves around and is taken on and off, it can scrape up your car's paint.
Clean the interior, too. Especially if there's any food or debris that can attract bugs and other pests. Vacuum it out nicely. If you want to go the extra mile, you can get desiccant packets that absorb moisture that can lead to mold and bad odors.
Get an Oil Change
The nature of oil is that it also picks up contaminants as it lubricates. Fresh oil is pure and won't lead to sludge buildup. The same goes for other fluids, too.
Change out your transmission fluid and put fresh grease where it's needed, such as on suspension bushings and chassis points. Old fluid and grease have the same problems, picking up contaminants that can change their properties and cause them to become stiff and ineffective as the temperature drops.
Use Fuel Stabilizer
Fuel stabilizer is especially important in the age of ethanol. If you still use 100 percent pure gasoline, a stabilizer is still a good idea, even though pure gas can survive months rather than the 30 days that the normal 90 percent gas/10 percent ethanol fuel lasts.
Fuel stabilizer can keep fuel active for up to two years! If you need to store your car longer than that, it might be a good idea to just remove the fuel entirely.
Take Care of Your Battery
Batteries do not like cold. If you plan on occasionally using the car during winter, get a battery tender or trickle charger that will maintain an optimal charge. Otherwise, it might be a good idea to remove the battery or at least disconnect it. If you disconnect it without removing it, though, the car should be in a climate-controlled garage.
If the car isn't in a climate-controlled garage, remove the battery entirely and keep it indoors. When storing a car that uses computers to control vehicle functions, the trickle charger may be the way to go, so you don't mess up essential car functions. You can also use petroleum jelly to preserve the battery terminals and ensure they don't rust.
Pump up the tires to higher-than-normal pressure. They'll lose pressure just sitting there.
The Little Things
If you're meticulous about keeping your car in tip-top shape while it's sitting for long periods, there are more things you can do to preserve it:
- Put covers over the exhaust pipes to repel pests
- Use good antifreeze
- Change your filters
- Start it occasionally
Follow these tips, and you'll return to a refreshed, ready-to-drive car instead of a frozen car-shaped block come springtime.
Take these winter storage tips to heart if your car will go unused until the spring. A little prevention now means happy motoring later.