Preparing your classic car for short-term storage - Mick's Tips 436

By: Mick McCrudden

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Before your pride & joy enters hibernation here's a few tips to keep it healthy

Does work take you away for months at a time? Here are a few tips about looking after your favourite toy Back to work? I know this time of year a fair few of you will be putting away the summer toy – namely your classic car – since you’ve got to head off somewhere to work.

Maybe you’re on a mine contract, or something else that takes you away for long periods, where you just don’t have time to play with your Falcon/Kingswood/Valiant or whatever it happens to be.

Now what we’re talking about here is a relatively short lay-off, say up to six months or so, and not long-term storage that might go on for a year or more.

| Read next: The ins and outs of car storage

First, get the car out, give it a good wash and take it for a decent run – at least half an hour – to get everything up to temp and properly exercised. You want it to be clean and bone dry when you put it away.

If it’s on radial tyres, pump them up maybe a little higher than you’d normally have them to help keep their shape. Around 40psi will work. I also like to get the car up on stands, if possible. It doesn’t have to be right up in the air, but getting the majority of the weight off the tyres is a good move that discourages the radial belts from developing flat spots.

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Modern fuel is a big issue with this. It starts to go off after four weeks and can be incredibly destructive. A dose of fuel stabiliser (put it in before you take it for a final run) will help and that’s the easiest approach.

An alternative is to leave the car dry on fuel. It runs the risk of carburetor gaskets drying out, but that can be less hassle than having to clear dried fuel out of the carburetor, which essentially means a rebuild.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, I reckon it’s worthwhile giving the car a quick service before you put it away – which means fixing any running problems and at very least changing the engine oil. You might actually consider changing all the fluids.

This means you’re not leaving contaminated fluids sitting for a few months, eating away at the toy’s internals. Then, guess what? You change it all again when you re-awaken it. Call it a birthday present. I’d also want to get the old fuel used up and switched over for fresh stuff as soon as possible.

What about the battery? It’s a judgment call. A good quality tender or smart charger should do the trick. If you’re unsure, just remove it.

Of course by far the kindest thing you can do is keep it running. If you have a trusted friend who can take it for a drive every few weeks, that’s the perfect solution. It’s far easier on the car, and cheaper in the long run. Oh, and I do mean taking it out on the road – running it static in the garage doesn’t count and is a very poor alternative.

| Read next: Maintaining car batteries during winter

And what about long-term storage? That’s a topic for another day…

Note: Mick runs Glenlyon Motors in Brunswick, Vic. Tel (03) 9380 5082.

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