How to Properly Store a Vintage Vehicle

How to properly store a vintage vehicle

Your vintage vehicle is your pride and joy. Whether you restored it yourself or invested in restoration, your vehicle’s value goes beyond its dollar amount. It has an emotional value and cherished memories of simpler times.

While your vintage car insurance offers some peace of mind, you still need to protect it from damage and theft. Here we review how to safely store a vintage vehicle so you can enjoy it for many years to come.

Find Shelter

Hopefully, you have a garage or at least a carport to safely store your vehicle and protect it from the elements. This is important because extreme weather, including direct sunlight over a long period, can harm your car. You also want to keep it less vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

Your ideal storage would include:

  • A secure site
  • Climate control to avoid freezing temperatures
  • A private space

If you don’t have your own space, you should probably look for a storage facility offering these features. If budget is an issue, you can find warehouse space where other vehicles are stored. At least your vehicle will be secure and safe from the elements.

Detail Your Vintage Vehicle

Before you say your final goodbyes, a thorough detailing keeps your car ready for the next drive. This should include:

  • Washing the dirt and road salts from the entire surface, including the bottom
  • Waxing and leaving the wax on the chrome surfaces
  • Lubricating rubber parts
  • Upholstery cleaning
  • Vacuuming the interior to keep pests away

Drain the Fluids

Drain your car’s fluids, preferably on a day when the weather is still a little warm. This allows the oil to circulate and collect contaminants that can lead to issues. If you do this yourself, wear a glove to avoid burns.

Grease Universal Joints

If your car has lube fittings, you will have to put fresh grease in your universal joints. You should also grease your steering and suspension fittings. Then pack the front wheel bearings for good measure.

Bleed the Brakes

To avoid brake deterioration, you should “bleed” them by draining the fluids and then refilling them with fresh fluids.

Drain the Fuel Tank

If you intend to store your vehicle for 6 months or longer, you will also have to drain the fuel tank. Drain it, and then run your car to remove any left-over gas from the lines. This is important because gas can clog up your carburetor and valves. For short term storage, this is not necessary. However, you should add a can of gasoline stabilizer before it goes into storage.

Drain the Cooling System

Draining the cooling system allows air to circulate. This includes the radiator, which should be left with the petcock open and the radiator cap off — and refilled with a rust-inhibiting antifreeze.

Disconnect the heater hoses so you can drain the heater, then drain the rest of your fluids. This process might be best left to the pros, as you can cause serious pollution if you don’t dispose of the fluids properly. They are considered hazardous waste and should be handled with care and consideration for your neighbours and the environment.

Store Your Battery Separately

Your battery should be stored separately from your car. Remove it, wash it down with a mix of water and baking soda and rinse it with distilled water. This might seem like a lot of work, but keep in mind that without your battery, your car won’t start.. Once it’s cleaned, store it in a dry place, off the ground. DO NOT place it on a concrete surface. Hooking it up to a battery charger will keep it charged during storage, so you don’t place a dead battery in your car.

Raise Your Vehicle

There’s a good reason you often see cars sitting on jacks or bricks in people’s driveways — and it’s not because their wheels have been stolen! Cars should be stored without tires, raised with support at their suspension points. Once you remove the tires, store them stacked with cardboard to separate them. Put a cover over your tires to protect them from damage.

Lock It

While locking the car doors is obvious, you also have to lock your car “in the pocket” by depressing the clutch and then locking it in position. The best way to lock it is to use a 2 x 4 pressed against the clutch and the front of the seat to prevent your clutch plates from sticking to each other.

Keep Your Car “Comfortable”

Some final steps that will help keep your car comfortable in storage include:

  • Keep your windows rolled down slightly to allow air to circulate
  • Place boxes of open baking soda in a few places to help absorb moisture that can damage your interior
  • If your upholstery includes fabric, you can also use some mothballs in the car, but they will leave a smell
  • Cover your carburetor with a plastic bag
  • Keep pests out of your car by stuffing a rag in the tailpipe
  • Be sure to keep your convertible top up, so it doesn’t shrink

These last tips help avoid mould and mildew issues in your interior while also keeping the pests at bay.

Cover It

Invest in a quality car cover for added protection. This is doubly important if you are storing your car outdoors. Your best bet is to go with a cotton flannel cover as they tend to breathe well and allow for better air circulation. They are also much more forgiving when it comes to your paint job.

Avoid cotton/polyester blends as they trap heat and moisture. While you might think plastic is a good idea, it’s even worse as it doesn’t breathe. Moisture collects, which is a nightmare for your vintage car, as it can lead to rust.

To learn more about how to properly store and protect your vintage vehicle, call Bow Valley Insurance at +1-800-332-1308 or contact us here.

Coverage is subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles. Protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits shown on the policy.