Can you drive a classic car in the winter?
If you live somewhere like Hawaii, go for it. If you live somewhere like New Hampshire, you can still get out on the road, but you need to take some precautions.
Just because it gets cold and snowy where you live doesn’t mean your vintage automobile has to hibernate for the next few months.
Here are some tips to prepare your classic car for winter driving so you can prevent damage and get around safely.
How Can I Get My Classic Car Ready for Winter Driving?
Salt, melting snow, and rust are your classic car’s enemies in the wintertime.
The salt used on roads to melt snow can cause severe body and undercarriage damage because it’s corrosive. If melting snow seeps into your car’s crevices, it may refreeze and thaw several times, which could cause cracks. Inevitably, because of the moisture that develops, rust will be left behind.
Fight Rust on the Outside
Some treatments for preventing rust on the outside of your classic car are probably best left to the professionals.
With a ceramic body coating, a hard layer forms over your paint that chemically bonds to the clear coat. If properly applied, this treatment should last five years, as long as you wash the car regularly and do an inspection now and again.
If you go with a clear wrap, the most vulnerable areas of the body of the car will be protected. This treatment fights against rust by protecting the paint coat from chips and scratches. More expensive films are resistant to yellowing and self-healing when heated.
If you’re looking to go the DIY route, regular washing and waxing will be your best defense. This treatment gives the paint a protective layer and keeps most of the salt away. It also guards against the sanding effect of road grit.
Prevent Rust Down Under
You can protect the undercarriage of your classic car by applying a thick sealant spray. However, if you don’t clean it first, you could trap rocks and corrosive materials. If cleaning is not an option, you can use an oily coat that may need to be reapplied more often.
You’ll also want to inject the cavities of your car with an anti-rust treatment. This is another job that’s probably best left to a professional. Cavity wax can reach the narrowest of places and prevent rust formation as well as protect the vehicle from damage that comes with normal wear and tear.
Though it may seem like a useless chore in the winter, washing your car often on the outside and underneath can contribute to the fight against rust. You don’t want water, snow, and salt lingering for very long and causing a corrosive mix. Your rust prevention treatment will be the most effective when combined with regular washes.
Winterize as Normal
Once you’ve done everything you can to prevent rust, you should proceed with normal winterization practices.
- Try to use up any existing washer fluid and replace it with winter washer fluid to prevent freezing. Make sure your engine coolant or antifreeze has a low freezing point.
- Carry tools such as window scrapers, lock de-icers, jumper cables, shovel, and sand for traction. Keep supplies on hand such as blankets, water, flashlight, and non-perishable food.
- Verify your battery is in good condition. Power decreases as temperatures drop. Clear ports and terminals of corrosion. Replace any worn seals before heading out.
- Invest in quality tires with strong tread and winter capabilities if it gets extremely cold where you live. These tires have special compounds that resist hardening in cold temperatures and provide better traction.
- Make sure your headlights are working properly. Upgrade to make them brighter if they are foggy, hazy, or damaged. Keep them clean and free of debris.
How to Get Your Classic Car Ready for Winter Driving
Now you know how to winterize your classic car, so you can let the good times roll no matter what season it is.
Your main concern is rust prevention. Take all the necessary steps to protect the outside and undercarriage.
Then, follow up with typical winterization tasks such as topping off fluids, checking the battery, and storing an emergency kit.
Getting your classic car ready for the road during the colder months will keep you safe and let you enjoy your vintage vehicle for a long time.
You don’t have to say goodbye to Betsy until spring. Just take good care of her and enjoy the ride.