As temperatures begin to drop, it’s necessary to take precautions to preserve the condition of your classic muscle car. Putting any vehicle into storage requires more than a bit of preparation and forethought, but there are a few extra variables you need to consider in the winter.
Check out these cold-weather storage tips to get you started.
Test and Store Your Battery
Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, extreme temperatures are battery killers. When temps drop, your battery loses a percentage of its capacity, which makes it harder to start the engine.
At 32 F, a battery’s capacity decreases by 20%. At -22 F, that number rises to 50%. Store your battery in a climate-controlled or neutral space.
Refresh and Top Off Your Fluids
Regardless of when you did your last tuneup, you need to refresh and top off all your fluids before you put your classic muscle car into storage.
This means ensuring the coolant is the proper mix of antifreeze and water, topping off things like brake and transmission or clutch fluid, and getting an oil change so the oil is fresh. You’ll want to change it again after you take the car out of storage, too.
What you don’t want to do is leave your engine with dirty oil in it for weeks or months while you’re not driving it. Any dirt and debris could cause damage, even if the oil isn’t moving.
Be Mindful of Road Salt
Road salt and other deicing chemicals are every classic car owner’s worst enemy. These products keep the roads safer by preventing ice from forming on the asphalt’s surface, but they also contribute to accelerated rust on vehicles’ undercarriages.
If your city has already started salting the roads as a precautionary measure, make sure you thoroughly wash your muscle car’s undercarriage before putting it into storage. The last thing you want to do is come back in the spring to find that salt and water have turned the steel into so much Swiss cheese.
Consider Climate Control
Putting a space heater in your garage to keep your car from freezing is one option, but it’s not very effective in most standard spaces.
These rooms are usually not connected to the home’s HVAC system and aren’t really designed to be climate-controlled. They aren’t insulated — and the garage door is often the worst culprit when it comes to letting in cold air. Make sure it is working properly and is well lubricated so it closes properly.
Take the time to look at your storage space and see what you could do to winterize it. Adding some insulation to the walls, door and ceiling might seem like an excessive step, but it will go a long way toward keeping your car cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Be Wary of Pests
The plush interior of your favorite classic muscle car must look like a five-star hotel to a cold mouse or rat trying to get out of the winter weather. Don’t make it inviting for them. Start by deep cleaning the interior and removing any food or crumbs that might attract pests.
Then, invest in some sort of rodent repellant. Something as simple as mothballs may do the trick, though there are other options such as essential oils or ultrasonic repellents if you can’t stand the scent.
Start It Up Once in a While
Even if you’re not planning on driving your car, you should get behind the wheel every so often. The exact time frame varies depending on who you ask, but in general, you don’t want to let a car sit for more than two weeks without starting it at least once and running it for 20 minutes.
This allows the engine to warm up, the fluids to flow and lubricate as they’re supposed to, and keeps the vehicle’s downtime from causing potentially costly damage.
Stay Warm This Winter
Whether you’re in the South, where cold weather means breaking out a light sweater, or up North, where you’re expecting subzero temperatures and several feet of snow, storing your car for the winter is always a good idea.
Make sure you’re prepared before you park your muscle car for the winter and after you’ve closed the garage door for the season. That way, when spring rolls around, you’ll be ready to hit the road again.
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