How to store a car over winter

How to store a car over winter

Is your car your pride and joy? Do you do your utmost to protect her from damage and deterioration?

If so, you may choose to store your car over winter to avoid the harmful effects of bad weather and dropping temperatures. Whether your vehicle is “garaged” or simply covered up in the driveway, you’ll have some peace of mind until spring returns again.

Here are a few simple tips for how to best store your car during the cold winter months.

1. Clean and dry thoroughly

The first step to a safely-stored car is to clean it thoroughly before packing it away for the winter. 

Your car must be cleaned and dried completely before storing it, as trapped moisture can cause corrosive damage while the vehicle remains stationary in the garage. Use a pressure washer to get rid of all dirt and grime, and then take time to remove all water from the boot, doors, bonnet and all rubber seals and surrounds. Ensure that brake discs are fully dried out to avoid them sticking while stored.

Condensation forming inside the car during winter can lead to problems further down the line, so make sure all moisture is killed off right from the start. You can ensure that condensation is kept in check using a dehumidifier on the right setting, or an air circulation tent if you have room for it.

Either way, the longer you wait to clean your car before storing it, the harder it will be to dry it out – don’t delay.

2. Think about your battery and wipers

Even if your car is stationary for months, minor electrical systems can still drain the battery progressively over time, leaving you with a dead car come springtime.

You can avoid this by disconnecting the battery after storing the car, or, if the battery does run down, by using an electronic battery charger to get it going again.

Also don’t neglect to separate the windscreen wipers from the windscreen by either lifting them up or placing something in between – rubber can become useless if left tight to the glass for too long.

3. Check levels

Keep your oil and anti-freeze levels topped up with the right concentration (50/50 with distilled water for anti-freeze) to stop water within the car from freezing in colder conditions, even if it’s stored in a garage.

You can also introduce an additive to your fuel to stop it from separating during the winter and keep the tank free from rust and grime.

Change your typical engine oil for a specific ‘storage oil’ brand, or simply refresh your standard oil just prior to storage. If left unchecked, oil can corrode bearings and cylinder bores during the winter.

4. Prepare wheels and tyres

As with the rest of your car, make sure your wheels and tyres have been cleaned and thoroughly dried before storage. You should also remove and clean every wheel nut and apply some grease if possible to avoid seizing.

Pump your tyres to 5 PSI over the recommended pressure and cover them if the car is in direct sunlight as UV degrades tyres over time.

Consider jacking the car up on axle stands to keep the wheels off the ground, if you have the time and space to do so, to avoid flat-spotting; if leaving on the ground, move the car back and forth a few inches every couple of weeks or so to change the position of the tyres.

Assuming the car is parked on a level surface, leave the handbrake off to avoid it seizing in winter.

5. Invest in a good car cover

For the interior of your car, use a breathable cover to protect the seats. If you want extra protection for your car while left in a heated garage, consider using a fully-tailored cover.

The exterior of your car should always be covered with something that isn’t completely waterproof, as this will cause your car to sweat during the winter. A poor-quality cover can also damage your paintwork, so invest sensibly to avoid future headaches.

If your car isn’t garaged for the winter, use a semi-tailored cover to keep your car safe outside. Again, a lower quality cover will move around too much in bad weather, while a closely-fitted tailored cover will trap moisture between it and the car. Always ensure your vehicle is completely dry before putting on a cover.

And there you have it.

If you’re storing your car over the cold winter months this year, make sure it’s kept in excellent condition by cleaning and drying it thoroughly, checking the engine and levels, avoiding sticking or seizing where possible, taking extra care with the wheels and tyres, and investing in a good-quality cover, whether it’s being kept inside or outdoors.

For more information contact Absolute Reg.