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Storing a Classic Car In Winter: How We Do It

With the two weeks of the great British summer now over, and winter fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how to keep your pride and joy away from the winter elements.

What happens when a classic isn’t properly stored

Rain and road grit can play havoc on old paint and metalwork, and you may find your classic car requiring some structural repair work sooner than you would like if not properly taken care of.  Some owners are happy to throw a cover on their car and leave it for the winter months in a cold and potentially damp garage, but this can still create problems.

If the car is not completely clean and dry before being covered, the cover can rub on the paint and cause scratches, while rust and mould are likely to develop from water and road grime residue.

Mechanical parts can seize from lack of use, rubber bushes can go hard and crack, and the tyres can develop flat spots. Not to mention, the battery can become a rather large paperweight. Security can also be a concern if the car is in an unmaintained garage.

Why should you consider professional classic car storage?

Professional classic car storage offers the most complete solution as well as total peace of mind, ensuring that when the rain finally does subside and the sun comes out for a few days, your classic is in top shape and ready to be enjoyed.

What happens when you drop off your classic to be stored?

The first thing the car receives when it is dropped off is its own unique job number, against which the storage process and any repair work are referenced. Next, the car is given a full wash and dry with a pH neutral shampoo, to preserve any wax previously applied to the car.

If the car requires it, then polish and wax can also be applied prior to the car leaving storage. To combat the problem of rust from residual water, the car is dried meticulously, including under the floor mats, in the door hinges and under the bonnet and boot where corrosion loves to form.

Once the car is completely clean and dry, it is checked in and undergoes a full condition report. The condition of the paint, exterior bodywork and interior are assessed, and any parts that are dented, scratched, scuffed or damaged in any way are logged and photographed.

Mechanical condition assessment

Next, the mechanical condition is assessed – all fluid levels are checked, the condition of the tyres and battery are checked, and the engine is run to temperature and gently driven to confirm that all mechanical components operate as they should. Any fluid leaks or unexpected noises or behaviours are logged and brought to the owner’s attention.

Electric component checks

Finally, the electrical components of the car are checked, including all required driving lights and safety systems, air conditioning (if the car has it) and any electrically operated features that the car may be equipped with, such as electric windows, electric sunroof and central locking. Also, any dashboard warning lights are logged, checked and brought to the owner’s attention.

Why we provide a full condition report

Once all areas of the car have been assessed, the condition report is sent through to the owner. Each car receives this complete inspection for several reasons, the most important being that it gives the owner peace of mind that their car has been fully looked over prior to storage to identify any potential gremlins. It also forms an agreed status of the cars condition.

Finally, the condition report serves as a basis for any work the car may need in the future. For example, if the inspection shows that a vehicle has very dirty coolant, the owner can be informed and have the coolant flushed during the next service.

Now that the car has been cleaned and checked in, it is allocated a cover to protect it from dust build-up and unwanted attention, and a trickle charger to maintain the condition and charge of the battery.

Charging and inspections

Clients can opt for short term (weekly) or long term storage. Cars stored during the week and driven over the weekend only really need the occasional charge if not used one week, as they are properly exercised on weekends. If the car is stored long term, it is charged and run up to temperature on a fortnightly schedule to get hot oil circulating around the engine.

The gears are engaged and it is given light exercise around the unit to simulate driving, preventing brakes and suspension components from seizing. Periodic inspections are carried out and any fluid leaks are noted and monitored to ensure that any larger issues are recognised and the car stays in good health.

Staying legally roadworthy

Another consideration while the car is stored is keeping it legally roadworthy. It can be easy to forget to tax or MOT your car when you don’t have it with you, but another benefit of professional storage is that this can be organised for you, so one less thing for you to remember.

Even better, with the car in storage, light work can be easily carried out which will improve the appearance or driving experience, including dent removal, detailing or replacement of more basic components. This means that when the car does leave the facility, it is completely ready to be driven and enjoyed.

Security concerns

Even though every car is treated like a garage queen and fully pampered while in storage, it can be daunting to simply hand over the keys to your prized classic car for any period of time at all, particularly in relation to security.

Although your personal garage at home may be locked overnight, the security offered by professional car storage is far superior. Discreet, nondescript brick or tin units provide a warm and dry winter home for classics, with CCTV and manned security to keep prying eyes away.

Furthermore, most classic insurance companies will reduce their premium if a car is being stored professionally, so some money can be saved in this department.

The exit inspection

Once winter has passed, and the roads are beginning to dry up, the car undergoes an exit inspection similar to the entry inspection – all fluids are checked, the condition of the body is checked, and all electrical and safety systems are checked to be sure that nothing has failed or broken in the time it has been stored.

Once this inspection is passed, the MOT and tax status of the car is verified so that the owner can simply pick up the keys and go for a drive in their beloved classic, safe in the knowledge that everything has been taken care of.

28th August 2019 Classic Car Storage Author: David Peters
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