Winterise Your Classic

If, like me, you have no idea whether Winterise is actually a word, my apologies. It is at least easier to say than Get Your Classic Car Ready For Winter, which is what this article is all about.

Of course, on or about the day when temperatures dip into single figures, every classic car-related blog, magazine and self-appointed pundit rushes out their annual list of advice on laying up your car. Perhaps though, the Great Escape Cars list is a little different because our cars work for a living so we have to follow the advice we give. 

Here is our list of tips for helping your classic car survive the winter months. It isn’t exhaustive but covers the main, simple and cost-effective ways to help your car survive winter.

1. Keep It Dry

Damp is a classic car killer but eradicating it is a full time job. Dampness causes rust, deteriorates electrics, eats interiors and worms its way everywhere to often catastrophic effect. If you are gar aging your car consider investing in an indoor Carcoon, a superb and inexpensive way to solve the damp problem. If storing outside a Carcoon is a must. If you can’t stretch to a Carcoon ensure the storage area is waterproof and that air can circulate – this will help minimise dampness. 

If you don’t have a garage seriously consider finding one – the money it costs will be less than the cost of repairing your deteriorating car.

2. Maintain the battery

Batteries suffer in cold weather and due to lack of use. There are two schools of thought with them. One is to use a trickle charger that keeps the battery topped up – the downside, say some, is that the battery is weakened by this process. Alternatively disconnect the battery from the car. The battery may drain but at a slower rate. We personally recommend a trickle charger.

3. Use it

Actually using your classic in the winter may seem like a mad idea. Think of the salt, the damp, the mud, the snow. Certainly those are issues. But your car needs to be started and run regularly and the components exercised – without this seals dry out, parts seize up, tyres flat-spot and ancillaries give up the ghost. It is not wise to simply start it up and leave it running – this causes excessive engine wear and the car needs to move to be properly exercised.  Find a suitable dry day and salt-free roads and give your car a 15-20 minute run every couple of weeks. At the end of the drive fully jet wash the bodywork and underside then dry off. The potential risk of deterioration to the bodywork is, we think, worth the pay-off in terms of mechanical deterioration and general reliability. 

4. Underseal it

A few pounds spent undersealing your car, or even having the cavities wax injected will pay dividends over the winter by protecting the hard-to-reach rust traps.  I had my Alfa Spider wax injected for £120 7 years ago and it remains utterly rust free despite being used year-round over high mileages. 

5. Keep it clean

Dust is a silent killer of paint, causing discolouration over time and scratches. Before you lay up your car for winter thoroughly valet it. Apply a good polish to protect the paintwork and jet wash the underside, paying particular attention to sills and wheel arch lips.  

6. Get the antifreeze mixture right

The cheapest way to kill your car is to have a weak or non-existent antifreeze mix. The issue for a stored car is not the risk of freezing inside the engine. Without the correct mix of antifreeze and water the latter will quickly corrode everything it touches inside your engine. We recommend a minimum 30:70 or ideally 50:50 mix.

7. Pump up the tyres

When a car is left standing for a long period of time tyres can flat spot and deteriorate if the pressures are too low. As well as exercising the car it is a good idea to pump the tyres up beyond the normal recommended level to avoid flat spotting and continue to monitor levels. 

The list of recommended tasks are a cheap and simple way to maintain your car’s condition. 


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