Storing your Collector Car For Winter
Proper winter storage of your Collector car or truck protects your investment in it. Whether you have a Tucker Torpedo or a Terraplane, the best procedures to follow for safe winter storage are pretty much the same.
The best time to think about storage is while you're still wearing a T-shirt and shorts, so you don't end up rushing your storage procedures just before the snow flies.
Where You Store It
In a large building you can keep cars and other garage items separate. In a smaller building the cars may have to be squeezed in with the other items and require more protection from the chance of a falling toy or garden tool. A heated garage that isn't well sealed can attract field mice in winter. An unheated garage can lead to a frozen engine block if sufficient antifreeze isn't used. It pays to think in advance about your storage area and how it can best be organized.
A well-insulated post-frame building with corrugated steel walls is a good option for secure storage of collector cars over winter.
Leave as much room as possible between the cars you are storing. Keep convertible tops up and windows closed almost all the way tight.
A relatively inexpensive, freestanding four-post auto lift can be used to increase storage space even in a small, townhouse style two-car garage.
The type of storage area you have may dictate some aids you'll need to safely store your Collector vehicle. If your garage isn't heated, you will need a dehumidifier and electric service to run it. If the storage area has a dirt or gravel floor, you'll need a moisture barrier (thick plastic sheeting). If the storage area is shared with other items, you can securely mount shovels and rakes on the wall and hang bicycles from the ceiling.
Keep garden tools and other household items securely mounted on the wall so they don't fall and bump into your collector vehicles.
"Breathable" covers are best for cars. Some are cloth and others are made of high-quality "paper fabric." Most covers have the manufacturers name on the front for proper positioning. You'll have to poke holes for radio antennas and other accessories. Few people store collector vehicles outdoors, but if you do, don't use a cover. The wind will rub it over your paint like sandpaper and it may trap moisture inside.
You'll want to use breathable car covers on all sizes of cars and on light-duty trucks, although the Ford dump truck is too big to get a cover for.
Storage Area Steps
Make sure your storage area is well organized. Shelves near the car should be leveled so they don't tip over. Avoid paw prints or caved in curtain windows on convertibles by keeping the area free of pets. Avoid storing chemicals, detergents, liquids or spray cans near your collector vehicle. You may want to use a rubber wheel stopper to halt the car at a safe distance from the wall (electronic parking devices are also available). If using an automatic door opener, make sure nothing is lying against the door.
Simple but sturdy shelves built with 2 x 4s and plywood panels do a good job of keeping car parts off the floor and away from stored vehicles.
Change the oil and filters. Lubricate the chassis. Tighten all hoses so they won't seep. Check for a 50/50 antifreeze mixture in the cooling system. If you live in the Snow Belt, be sure you have freeze protection for sub-zero temperatures. Drain the fluid in the windshield washer jug or add windshield washer fluid with antifreeze.
Wash your car. Clean up the engine and engine compartment. Any oil or fluid left on a shiny engine part for months may leave a stain. Apply a good wax to the body and buff it. Go over the waxed car with a "California car duster" to remove wax residue. Clean and vacuum the upholstery, carpets and luggage compartment. To remove odors, park the car in the sun with a Yankee Candle under the seat before storing it away.
Details, details, details
Fill your gas tank. A partly empty steel tank will allow air and moisture to mix inside, causing rust and corrosion. Putting dry gas in the tank helps to absorb any moisture already inside. Cover openings mice can get into, like exhaust pipes. Use plastic wrap and rubber bands to seal them. Keep the hood open. This will allow light in the engine bay and discourage mice from hibernating there. Mice like dark places.
Experts say that a hood that's raised will let light into the engine compartment and keep mice and other varmints out.
Fuel for thought
Some collectors run the fuel system dry to avoid varnish formation. Others remove all the spark plugs and squirt oil into the cylinders for top-cylinder oiling purposes. Remove the battery, top off the battery water (the level should be above the plates) and use a battery maintainer to keep the charge up to snuff. These are available in 6-volt and 12-volt cars. The Battery Tender Jr. runs on very low, safe current. Put an extra five pounds of pressure in each tire, but remember to remove it in the spring.
A low output battery maintainer can be used to keep batteries at full charge as long as the storage building has electric service and safe wiring.
Lower sun visors so rodents or bugs don't nest between the visor and the headliner. Use cardboard to hold rubber wiper blades off the windshield and headlights (on cars with headlight washers). Make sure that the emergency brake is off so it doesn't stick in the "on" position. Take the keys out of the ignition and store them in a lock box or inside your house. Record the key numbers in a safe place. While you're at it, make sure that all titles, registrations and insurance cards are in order.
Write down all of storage procedures you carried out so you can reverse them before using your car again.
A board made for writing on with erasable dry markers makes a good place to maintain up-to-date service records on all the stored away vehicles.