Darker nights have drawn in and the weather is starting to drop into single digit territory. Perfect time then, to start thinking about storing away your cherished vehicle for the winter months.
It is important to ensure that your pride and joy is stored appropriately during winter. Storing a car at this time of year has a number of benefits, including keeping it free from damp, salt, rain and snow.
For owners of classics, supercars and sports cars; winter marks the end of another driving season. Most enthusiast owners will not want to use their special cars over winter. It is therefore important to make sure they are stored properly, to ensure they are in in great condition, ready to be enjoyed again when spring comes.
Follow our top tips and advice on how to store your car over winter below.
Clean and Cover
It is a great idea to give your car one last thorough clean before putting it away for a few months. Storing your car for a long period of time without first cleaning it could cause dirt and grime to damage the paintwork. It is also a good idea to invest in a car cover - these can be purchased for as little as £25.
Investing in a cover for your vehicle is even more essential if you do not have an indoor location to store your car. It is also worthwhile investing in one, even if your car will be stored indoors to protect it from fine dust particles and generally keep the bodywork pristine.
More expensive, quality covers will do a better job at keeping out moisture, which will help protect the paintwork and prevent rusting, especially on older, more fragile classics. Plus, the cover can also prevent scratches and bumps if you will be moving things around in your garage or chosen storage location.
Storage Location and Conditions
Ideally, enthusiast owners will like to store their car in a high security, temperature controlled location. However, in reality most motorists only have access to a garage or a similar alternative.
As long as the storage location is safe and dry, you should have no problems storing a car over winter. Dehumidifiers are a good addition for small garages, as they can help get rid of moisture in the air.
For those that do not have access to a garage or a suitable alternative, it might be worthwhile seeking out some form of storage space. Specialist companies can offer professional storage for your car, which, although costing quite a bit, will keep your car in the best possible condition over winter. You could also tempt family or friends into letting you borrow their garage, if they do not use it of course.
Tyres and Suspension
It is a good idea to inflate tyres to a higher pressure than usual when putting your car away for the winter, but be sure not to exceed the maximum tyre pressure relevant to your vehicle.
The change in temperature often causes the air pressure in tyres to decrease but by inflating them, there is less chance of this happening. Jacking your car up or using blocks or stands is also recommended as this will take weight off the wheels and suspension.
It is also a good idea to move the car slightly, rotating the wheels every so often to stop flat spots appearing on the tyres. You could also invest in tyre cradles that also help prevent flat spotting, if the car cannot be moved easily.
Oil and Fluids
When storing a car on a long-term basis (more than three months), you should carry out an oil change before as there are contaminants in used oil that could damage the engine. This is because the impurities in the oil are given chance to build up (they tend not too when the car is being driven).
You should also avoid straining the valves of your petrol tank by filling up before putting your car away for winter. Having a full tank of petrol or diesel will reduce the risk of moisture being trapped and will stop strain being put on the valves. However, some experts suggest leaving the tank empty, is also beneficial.
Finally, be sure to top up your antifreeze and make sure you use the correct balance of coolant and water.
Tax and Insurance
If you do not plan on using your car over winter, it makes sense to save a bit of money in the process, but think carefully before you do.
If you make a Statuary Off Road Notification (SORN) to the Diver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), then you are not required to tax or insure your car whilst it is being stored for winter. You will receive a refund of any remaining tax on the car after making a SORN, just be sure to tax your car before getting it back on the road again.
If you do not make a SORN then under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement of 2011, your car is required to remain insured even if it is not being used. Owners of uninsured parked vehicles face being fined or possible seizure of their car.
That said, even if your car is in storage or has a SORN status, we would advise insuring it, as if anything was to happen whilst the car was in storage, you could see yourself heavily out of pocket if the car is damaged and is worth a considerable amount.
Dos and Don'ts
- Turn the engine over every few weeks or so as this will help circulate fuel and oil
- Block your car's exhaust pipes with rags or a rolled-up sock to stop pests from getting in (make sure to remove if starting the car up)
- Use trickle chargers. These are designed to slowly add charge to a battery and stops the battery from depleting
- Leave the handbrake on, by leaving the handbrake you face the risk of the brake pads fusing to the disks. As an alternative, use tyre stoppers to stop the car from rolling
- Leave your engine on in an enclosed space. This will cause a build-up of exhaust gases which could lead to serious health issues. If you are storing your car in a garage, park your car nose first with the garage open when starting the car
Stratstone Can Help
If you would like any help or advice on storing your car over winter, our Stratstone retailers offer checks, servicing and maintenance, which can all help in keeping your car in the best condition, in preparation for its winter hibernation.