How to store your car over winter

If you've got a cherished classic you'd rather hibernate over the winter months, here's our handy guide on what you need to do

While many motorists will find our other tips on winter driving and maintainence useful, there are others who will want to make sure their car sees as little of the elements as possible and opt to store it for the winter months.

But covering your car with a blanket next to a heater isn’t enough. Breakdown provider the AA’s Patrol of the Year, Jon Snowling, points out that improper storage can actually end up harming your car by allowing rust and moisture to build up at this time of year. 

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To make sure your car is tucked away properly for hibernation, Auto Express has the top 10 tips for vehicle storage. 

Invest in a smart charger

A smart charger, like our test Best Buy, the CTEK MXS, will keep the battery charged. Modern on-board computers can be affected by  disconnecting the battery for too long. Start your car every few weeks and run the engine for 10 minutes. 

Clean and polish the car

Before storage, Snowling advises owners to “remove mud, dirt and road salt that harbours moisture to help prevent corrosion”. Waterless washes like Meguiar’s Wash & Wax Anywhere are an ideal choice for use in small spaces. Use a high-quality wax, like the Soft99 Fusso Coat, to keep the paint protected. 

Plenty of ventilation

If you’re storing your car in a garage, ensure it’s well ventilated and prop the windows open slightly. This will prevent moisture from building up. Consider investing in a dehumidifier that will keep the air dry as well. 

Top up with fuel and anti-freeze

“Filling the fuel tank will reduce condensation levels that can build up over time,” Snowling says. For long storage, we’d recommend adding a fuel preservative to make sure the fuel lines don’t get clogged. The same goes for anti-freeze – top up the levels and run the engine for a few minutes so they get circulated. 

Use WD-40 to reduce corrosion

Any unpainted metal parts under your car can be painted with WD-40 to prevent rust. But Snowling adds: “Avoid spraying belts, hoses and braking surfaces.” 

Inflate your tyres to correct pressures

Make sure your tyre pressures are correct.If you’re storing the car for several months, lift the vehicle to raise the tyres from the ground – this will prevent flat spots. 

Don't use the handbrake

Leaving the handbrake on risks fusing the brake pads to the discs. Instead, use tyre stoppers to prevent the car from rolling. 

Invest in a good car cover

This will keep dust, debris and small animals away from your car. For extra safety, stuff clean rags into the tailpipe and any other areas creatures could nest. If you’re storing your car outside on a driveway, make sure the cover is waterproof and tied securely so the winter storms won’t blow it away. Don’t cover the car with a plastic tarp as this could damage the paint – opt for a soft and stretchy cover like the Cosmos Indoor Car Cover that also allows any moisture to escape easily. 

Change the oil and filters

Old engine oil can contain contaminants that damage the engine if left to sit for long periods of time. Check your handbook for the manufacturer’s recommended oil. It’s also good to swap your oil and air filters at the same time. 

Make a note of all the work carried out

Write down all the steps you’ve taken on a notepad, so when the time comes to restart your car in the spring, you won’t accidentally end up damaging it by, for example, forgetting to pull out the rag you’ve left in the exhaust. 

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