The cold, dark winter months are upon us. That means there’s a lot of salt on the roads, not to mention ice, rain sleet and snow. It’s just not a safe time for some classic cars, so for many owners, hiding them away until the summer months is the best course of action.
But how do you store a car? You could just stick it in the garage and hope for the best. Or, you could follow these five tips and do it properly.
1 Register your car as SORN
What does SORN mean? It stands for Statutory Off Road Notice. How does SORN work? It's a relatively simple procedure you do here. You'll get a refund for any full months of remaining tax and cannot use the vehicle on the road until you tax it again.
If you pay your VED by Direct Debit, the DD will be cancelled, but if it's close to the end of the month there probably won't be enough time for the Direct Debit cancel order to be put through, so you'll get a refund during the following month.
Obviously, a vehicle must be taken off the public road when you make a SORN. Otherwise you risk being fined. You'll also be able to cancel the insurance, but bear in mind that if the vehicle is stolen or damaged (say by fire) you won't be able to make a claim.
2 Raise it up
If you stick a car in a garage for a prolonged period of time, it’s going to play hell with the tyres and suspension. So, with that in mind, get yourself four decent quality axle stands and put your beloved motor up in the air. This will prevent flat-spots from forming in the tyres and will also take the load off the suspension.
The best thing to do would be to remove the wheels, too (you can buy wheel ‘trees’ to store them), and really give your suspension a break. Doing this also lessens the likelihood of anything ceasing up over time, too. Speaking of which, don’t leave the handbrake on!
3 Keep it charged
The one thing that will always fail on any car that’s been left for a long period is the battery. They need to be in regular use to maintain a proper level of function, so parking up for six months isn’t a good thing for a battery.
Worry not though, as a battery conditioner will keep charge in the battery without running up a huge electricity bill. It basically maintains the charge in the battery, so it never goes flat.
Oh, and while you’re at it, take the leads off, put a thin smear of petroleum jelly on the terminals then reconnect them. This will stop any corrosion from setting in.
4 Keep your cool-ant
Before you shut the garage door, make sure you check the coolant situation. Even though a garage is warmer than being on the road, it’s not exactly a sauna. As such, you still need to make sure you have the right coolant in your engine; otherwise parts may corrode or seize.
Never, ever leave a car standing if it just has water in the cooling system, either. If you do, and temperatures get far below freezing, you risk the engine block cracking.
5 Clean as a whistle
It’s the most obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised how many people put dirty cars into storage. Don’t do that. Spend a day getting it clean, make it spotless in fact. If it goes in clean, it’ll come out clean.
Plus, if you leave it dirty, the horrors within that dirt will be given six months to eat away at your chrome, your panels or your rubber bits, and that’s the last thing anyone wants. Yes, cleaning a vehicle is a boring task, but when that first summer sun hits and you want to get out in your car, you’ll be glad you spent that time with a brush. If you haven't made a SORN yet (point 1, above), take it for a quick spin to get any water off the brake discs. Leave the handbrake off when you park it (on level ground) but put it in gear and chock the front or rear wheels.
Once clean, invest in a cover. If you're keeping the car in a dry garage you don't need a waterproof cover - just one that'll keep the dust off it.