How and Why You Should Winterize Your Classic Car (with a Checklist)
The cold months are quickly coming upon us and that means a shift in how we drive and care for our classic vehicles. Cold temperatures and precipitation can cause parts to break down or stop working correctly. Winter car prep and preventative maintenance steps help preserve the life of your vehicle and ensure the safety of you and your passengers.
Clean Your Vehicle
Water, dirt, and salt can cause damage to your car’s body. Washing, waxing, and a good cleaning of the undercarriage help protect against the elements.
Fluids and Filters
Fill up your fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer. This will keep the fuel at full strength and prevent it from gumming up the surrounding parts. Change the engine oil and replace the oil filter. Top off antifreeze and transmission fluid. (We’ll address brake fluid as part of the brake system.)
Tires and Wheels
First, fill tires to the maximum recommended PSI. Whether or not you choose to remove your tires, consider jacking your vehicle up on stands if you don’t plan on driving it for a while. This relieves pressure from the tires and suspension.
Remove the Battery
One of the most critical areas of maintenance is your brake system. For your safety and the safety of your passengers and other drivers, this is a great time to perform annual maintenance on your brakes.
Change Brake Fluid
Brake fluid attracts moisture. This can happen when the cap is removed, through the vent in the master cylinder lid, and through older rubber brake hoses that start to break down. Fresh, dry brake fluid will help keep your brakes functioning at an optimal level.
Bleed the Brakes
Once the old brake fluid has been completely flushed out of the system, fill it with a high-quality brake fluid and bleed the brakes. This will leave a fresh, dry system that should leave you with zero worries about rust creating havoc in your brake system during winter storage.
We recommend Pentosin brand brake fluid, which can be purchased here.
Adjust Parking Brake Assembly
It’s a common practice to set the park brake to aid in the process of jacking up the car. If the parking brake assembly is set all winter, it can lead to hardware fatigue or cause the pads to fuse to the rotor. To prevent this from happening, release the parking brake assembly once you’ve raised your vehicle up on jacks into its final position.
Winter Car Storage
Winter car prep includes proper storage. Your vehicle storage conditions should be cool, dark, and dry. While an old barn or a drafty garage might seem easier, dirt and light exposure can cause damage to your car. Consider storing your vehicle in a storage unit if you don’t have a proper space. Set the final position on your jacks. Crack the windows for ventilation and to prevent a musty smell. Finally, place a cover over your vehicle.
Winterizing your car through preventative maintenance protects your investment, minimizes repairs, and ensures the longest life of your car and its parts. Clean your vehicle, replace fluids, remove the battery, service the brakes, and store your vehicle properly for safety, reliability, and performance.