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Atlantic Racing Scene

Storing a car . . .
the right way!

xBy Jay Lerue

Well, folks, that inevitable time of year has rolled around, once again. A time, when the days shorten, temperatures drop (especially at night, brrrrr!) and Summer has already began to shift into the Fall season.. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have a Summer car to show off, it’s time to think about storing it away once again, to keep it out of the harsh elements of the cold weather.

While storing a car for winter is something that is done all the time here in Atlantic Canada, unfortunately, it is something that is not done properly, all that often. After all, the accepted wisdom seems to be simply putting the car into a garage and ignoring it till Spring. Either that, or you’ll often see people simply park the car somewhere and throw a tarp or custom car cover over top of it. But, while, yes, doing either is certainly better than driving your cherished car or truck during the winter months, there are better and certainly more mechanically sound methods of storing your “baby” away till next Spring.

Those of us who do not have a garage of our own simply must look for a dry, suitable place to park our Spring/Summer cars, till next year. Often times, you’ll see that someone has stored their car away in someone’s barn or old shed on a farm. Apparently, this is one of the worst places that you can store your prized car! What people don’t realize is that where there are barns, there are rodents and insects.

Squirrels and mice or rats like to tear hood pads for nesting material and gnaw on spark plug wires, heater hoses, and just about anything else they can chew through. Imagine your horror, as you open your hood for the first time in the Spring, to discover this has happened! It will set you back, financially and also time wise, as you’ll be repairing and replacing chewed wires and hoses, rather than listening to that engine purring!
But if you simply must store that car in a barn, put a large heavy plastic drop cloth (ground cloth) down.

This will keep the moisture in the soil from evaporating and condensing on the bottom of your car during temperature changes. If you are not going to use a good quality weather proof car cover, use a plastic drop cloth over your cloth cover. Don’t use one of those big blue plastic tarps you can get at a hardware store, directly on your car.

Getting ready for another Atlantic winter

Doing so will only trap moisture between your car and the tarp, causing your paint to bubble. OUCH! Put a bag of moisture absorber (silica gel) inside the car interior and the trunk.  Water, in all its forms and animals will be your main concerns when storing in a barn. It is also recommended that you store a few moth balls under the hood and also in your trunk. Doing so will significantly prevent those critters from getting into your car.

Mechanically speaking, a trick that is often used is to pour a cup full of motor oil down the carburetor (assuming your car is “old school” and carbureted) while the engine is running, then turn it off just as you begin to see the blue smoke come out the tailpipe. This insures that the tops of the cylinders, pistons, and combustion chamber will have a thin coat of oil to protect it from the wonders of rust and corrosion.

It is recommended that you add a fuel stabilizer and fill your tank with high octane gas before storing the car away, as well. This will prevent moisture build up in your tank. Never set the parking brake. The brake shoes or pads could stick to the drums or rotors or the cables could rust or freeze up during storage. If you store your car off of the ground, (on jack stands), the stands should be under the suspension. If not, damage to the shocks and other suspension parts can occur. Placing the car on jacks for winter will prevent “flat spots” on your tires.

And if your stuck for a place to store a prized car for winter, try running an ad in your local newspaper. Often times, folks with underground parking in a condo, or apartment building, who do not drive are too happy to rent a spot to someone with a nice car that needs to keep it preserved.

Till next time, take care and happy motoring.

You can Email Jay here