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Hagerty Employee

4 tips for protecting your car from day-to-day hazards

We have money, time, and emotions tied up in our beloved vintage rides. To suffer damage to your machine—or worse, to have it stolen—is crushing for even most hardened gearhead. Still, we inevitably assume some risk in every situation of car ownership. Even leaving a car in a climate-controlled garage doesn't eliminate every possible hazard. We've covered the step-by-step process of putting your car away for seasonal storage before, but today we've collected a few tips for short-term storage between drives.


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Pit Crew

I put a few moving blankets on the car UNDER the cover. This gives me, literally, an extra layer of idiot insurance for when something is dropped on the car or I need to stack something on it in a pinch. Remember, a good justification for having more cars is that each one provides 60-plus square feet of storage space on its horizontal surfaces!

Intermediate Driver

I love the 1960’s style cooler on the shelf

have one like it.  The Yeti of the 60’s

Pit Crew

That caught my eye also. I have one the same color. 
Pit Crew

The concern with car covers is that any mice love to be in an enclosed area.  It has seemed impossible to completely eliminate mice, so I prefer to have my cars uncovered in the (detached) garage, with hoods up and dryer sheets strategically placed... and so far the mice have not been a problem!

New Driver

Here in Colorado if it's dry I drive my  71 Camaro or 72 Vega. I don't let my cars sit for long.


I place moth balls on the floor (in an open plastic container) fore and aft of the car. I have never had any critters in my garage any time of the season. They simply do not like the odor (neither does my wife) but at least no new residents. However, in reading this article I do have the spare out and leaning up against some garage stuff so that needs to be addressed today. Thank you for the short and poignant article.

New Driver

Thanks for the tips. You forgot one that I find easy cheap and good. Put a plastic drop cloth on the floor under the car. It prevents moisture "wicking" up thru the concrete and creating a higher humidity situation than you would like. Plus it makes it easier to notice any "spots". Take care. 


Look around your garage. I know of a case where someone bought a brand new Challenger and a ladder that had been on the wall for three years fell on to the side of his car. Maybe the rumble of the exhaust caused it.


We take square sheets of paper towels and put about a quarter of a cup of baking soda in the center. Bring the corners up and secure them with a strip of masking tape, and put a few packets in the interior and the trunk. Keeps the mildewy smell down to a minimum. Renew them every three months or so. If we think that a car won't be moved for awhile, we trundle over to the local Costco and have them fill the tires (including the spare) with nitrogen. 

Intermediate Driver

I'm not a fan of car covers because if there is any dirt or dust on the car, they can scratch it.  I use 3M Overspray protective sheeting 06727.  Comes in 12' x 400' rolls. It won't protect the car from dents, so I'm very careful not to put things on the cars.  And of course it is only useful inside the garage.  But, it does keep a clean car clean and free of dust.  Inexpensive protection. 

There are 3 different sizes on Amazon for ~$60.

Intermediate Driver

I learned the hard way not to disconnect the battery on my Jag with air ride. Air ride deflated and was very difficult to get operational in the spring.  A battery maintainer is my choice now to keep stored cars (and their clocks, stereos, and ride systems) operational and ready to go.

Pit Crew

I have mixed feelings about car covers. In my locale, mice, chipmunks and packrats are an unstoppable army. I’ve been told that rodents are dissuaded from nesting in open spaces. Car covers provide the dark seclusion that attracts them. So it seems to be a trade-off. Dust and bird poop (birds get in my storage barn too, no matter how much I try to seal it) or rodents. I’d gladly wipe off bird poop in a second. But rodent thanks. 


Grandpa Gus rodent repellent works fantastic, all natural, I use it my RV, boat,storage shed, electric gate motor,and my 70 challenger in the trunk,interior,and under the hood

Hi, is it better to have a through draft in the garage or have it all sealed up. I am asking this with reference to potential rust formation on my classic?

Intermediate Driver

Very basic before storage for the winter: wash and wax the exterior. Clean and vacuum the interior, even the glass. Place Fabreeze sheets throughout the interior and trunk. I park the car on a foam floor covering, made from 2 foot square playroom pieces. I put a couple of movers blankets on top of the cover, and make certain that they protect the areas that I might put something on top of the car.

Don't forget the most important thing, once you close the door, and before you put the cover on:

Give the car a kiss goodbye and tell it you will see it in the spring!


Pit Crew

I have a four post lift (lucky me-it was my wife's idea, very good woman).  Since the ramps are steel, do I still need to worry about tire issues that are mentioned about cement storage?

Intermediate Driver

How you store your ride in very important, but where you store it is even more important.

I store mine in California.


Advanced Driver

Cant overstate the importance of leaning shovels, rakes and the like.  I learned the hard way 40 years ago to tie everything up and secure things to the walls. Last week,  despite all my care and prep, I had a large metal square fall off of its spot because my wife borrowed it for a project and didnt put it up securely. It bounced like a boomerang off the concrete and hit my Charger with enough force to punch a sharp hole through metal.  Luckily it hit the tire instead.  Of all places, leaving a permanent mark in the white letter tire.  My Dodge dodged another bullet.  And this is a garage where everything is secured!


Happened with my Cougar. Don't assume that everyone in your household will put the same value on your classic as you do. They won't!
Advanced Driver

I think the best thing you can do is drive the car. Here in NJ, the only thing that stops me from driving my classic or my Harley Road King is SALT BRINE. It appears to have been invented to damage motor vehicles! (O.K.... It does work well as a pre-treat on roads).

Clean, cover and drive when possible so that you can always be adding fresh fuel. Also check to make sure the "other" side of the car has not developed a low or flat tire. 

I have seen the curve plastic tire saddles, but wonder if I really want to move or jack the car to put them in place. Any experience out there with using them? 


The leaning thing is a problem for us all. I dropped a rake on my wife's SLK320 a decade ago and still hear about it from time to time. I added a purpose built garage for my toys last year to avoid the other problems like laundry or pet food bags using my car as a table.


Living in the mid-South (Memphis) has its advantages too. No winter to speak of! I can drive my fancy car year round. No flat spots, winter storage or worries about rats and mice occupying my precious toy.





Pit Crew

Buy a good used car cover with padding that protects from dings (if you don't want to pay retail). The higher quality materials in good covers doesn't scratch the surface and lasts a long time.

Pit Crew

For winter storage, best to leave the hoods up too. Discourages mice from making a nest on the engine using hood insulation and chewing wires. Hood down makes a nice, cozy and safe place for the nest. Hood up makes an unprotected area for mice, and they don’t choose it so much.

Pit Crew

I add fabric softener sheets to the trunk, under hood area and inside the car. Keeps the rodents away. 

Pit Crew

There is a company that sells a product called Carbag. Just drive your car onto it, put the other half over the car and zip it up. Bags of desiccant are then placed throughout the car for moisture elimination. This will seal up the car from any outside hazards or corrosion and the car comes out just as good as when it goes in.

Pit Crew

My best tip:  Drive the futzer.  Often.  Not just around the block.  Give it a good workout.  Better yet, once or twice a week use it as your daily driver.  Rain won't hurt it and the exercise you get giving it a wash-and-wipe is good for you.  Granted, if you live in the snow belt and the local highways have more salt than Bonneville, keep it home.  Drive your 20 year old SUV instead.  But really, how many days a year is there actual snow and ice being melted by salt on your roads?   I've restored enough motorcycles and cars to know that "lo-mi" is no bargain.  Seals and bearings need frequent oiling and heat cycles.  A lo-mi car may LOOK good, but will invariably leave you stranded.  Drive/ride them, don't hide them.

Hagerty Employee


Absolutely. I usually line up a week for each car as my commuter. Doesn't hurt a thing to drive them, and in most cases does them good. As does an occasional "flogging".
Intermediate Driver

Mice, mice, mice. That's my problem. I've tried the peppermint sachets, but they seem to only work for a few months. Also have a few plug-in ultrasonic deterrents, that don't seem to do much.
So far no chewed wires, but I've found a few acorn stashes, so chewed wires are inevitable.
I like the option of leaving the hood up. Makes sense, but that won't keep them out of the interior & glove box. I think that removing any kind of polishing cloths, soft paper materials, etc also is a good deterrent. I like the moth ball suggestion. That seems to work in the linen closet of my summer house, so I'll try that.
Any other effective methods?

Hagerty Employee

having dealt with this, the most effective method by far is to find out how theyre getting into the garage (if you have one) and seal it off.

Well people, when you live in Phoenix you get you drive your baby all year!! 


I have been using the very same type of battery disconnect for the last 50 years. It has always worked well. It's no fuss installation and operation makes it a must when storing cars. I have not found a battery charger necessary when using it. They can be found on the internet. Some are a little better quality than others.  They are almost all made in China.

New Driver

I tried the tires on foam and it was a major fail.  Pink foam everywhere when I was trying to drive up it.  We still laugh about it today.  The only way this will work is if you lift each tire with a jack and put the foam underneath each tire individually.  Best to buy tire savers.

Advanced Driver

I agree with you, Kyle---some of the worst things happen in the garage.  To continue the conversation:  using a car as a storage place for boxes of "light-weight" stuff is very deceiving.  I once purchased a vintage vehicle which had been garage-stored for about 20 years.  Most of the body damage to the top, hood and trunk areas resulted from 20 years of using the car as a storage shelf!  I recall seeing the car over the years, piled high with boxes.  Causes me to remember the old Smokey Robinson ad where the father turns off the radio and the son says:  "But Daddy--It's Smokey!"  Yep--only boxes, too, but gravity takes its tole.  jay salser

Intermediate Driver

 I run my Miata till Oct-Nov but put it up before snow flies. It goes up on a ezy-lift, wheels off the ground and a car cover over it. It is in a climate controlled environment so I can still do service and maintenance to it before spring comes around.


my approach has always been drive 'em. with the exception of my partially disassembled project car, i try to cycle through my cars and drive them at least every week or two. every preparatory step to store a car is something that has to be undone, then redone, every time you drive it, which tends to discourage driving of the cars - particularly covers. i stopped covering cars a long time ago because they would sit longer simply because i was not in the mood for fussing with the cover more often than not

Intermediate Driver

It's great to know that flat spots on the tires aren't really a concern.

You may rest assured, however, some of us absolutely do not place items on our cars. A phone on the tonneau cover or the hardtop, but nothing on the body.

Happy Fall Driving!

New Driver

Good article.Great advice

Intermediate Driver

My Mustang sat for 13 years without a cover.  I had various things on top of the car that were light and soft-ish.  It collected lots of dust right away and kept collecting for the next 13 years, undisturbed.


Then one day I decided to bring it back into service.  The tires were flat, cats pee'd on the wheels and had a thick. thick layer of dust.  I was sure there must be some scratches, chips and dents here and there. 


In the cramped garage, I did the Optimum No Rinse wash job on it.  I was surprised to find that there were hardly any new scratches that I was able to tell from the 13 year slumber.  In fact, the finish still had the last polish job I had done and looked quite shiny. 


That's when things started to go bad.  It turned out that since it was so dirty/dusty, everyone in my family (wife and the kids) avoided getting close to the car in fear of getting dirty.  Within a week of cleaning, I started to notice new scratches here and there and the trend continued for the next six month.  It was so clean, no one was afraid to touch it and so they did.  They'd walk by after grocery shopping and confidently rub against the car without the fear of getting the groceries, or themselves dirty as they walked the narrow walkway next to the car. 


So, I wised up and bought a car cover after a while.  Now, everyone thinks that the cover will protect the car from any harm, so everyone didn't hesitate to put stuff on top of the car, or lean into it hard, or swing a baseball bat at it to show how well the bat will be protected by the cover.


Ok, the last part was just my frustration talking, but for sure, there are a lot more damage, now, after cleaning and covering of the car, than just leaving it all dusty.


To be fair, my wife, nor my kids, have any appreciation for the Mustang, or what the big deal is.  To them, it's just one of the cars we own, only noisier, smellier and much, much older.  They don't understand why I get so worked up over it when something bad happens to it, like a little scratch.


If I still had kids in the house, they would get the same "tanning" I did when I put a scratch on Dad's Superbee. Problem solved. I never climbed on his car again.

I have another suggestion that hasn't been mentioned. Years ago my neighbor's cat came into my garage w/o me knowing & I closed the garage door with the cat inside. A few moments later I heard a crash & discovered the cat had crawled up in the rafters & knocked a wheel cover off I had stored up there onto the hood of my 1970 AMX. So, unless things stored above your classic are not secured, best learn from my mistake & secure them (& watch out for cats).

Pit Crew

Just a word to the wise. Take battery out and put it inside if you use a car cover. I and Haggerty had a horrible experience a few years back. We had what the locals call the winter from Hell, cold, cold cold and then it got colder. I had as good a car cover that money could buy over my GTO, somehow or other the lack of heat caused the acid to "boil" out of the case and fall to the floor. It then evaporated up into the open bottom cover and the fumes got trapped. The next Spring when I took the cover off all of the chrome and aluminum trim was eaten up. The stainless trim was not effected at all.

When it was all repaired my large deductible was gone and nearly 3 grand of Hagerty cash was gone. 

Just put it inside.

By the way Haggerty was very professional all

through the deal. Good outfit.


Pit Crew

Place a tray of mothballs under the engine. Put lots of "Bounce" dryer sheets in the car interior and near the air vents and loosely in the tail pipe. Must be "Bounce" rodents including squirrels and chipmunks can't handle the smell of mothballs or Bounce dryer sheets. Other brands don't work.  I put mothballs in a tray under the engine and Bounce sheets in a plastic tray on top of the air filter cover and "over" the cabin filter.


I stored cars for years in PA and the above system works well. In FL, I do much the same but add a "Damp Rid" large size for the interior of the car.

Pit Crew

These days some car batteries are buried under engine covers or in a well in the trunk, making it impossible to install a battery disconnect switch.  The only practical solution is an automatic trickle charger.  The best unit I've found is the Craftsman (ex-Sears) 2 amp automatic charger for $30 retail available on the 'net or at Ace Hardware.  Comes with every kind of cable you might need (including a cigarette/power plug).  Reasonably priced, very reliable, connects to any 12v vehicle.

Pit Crew

When my wife and I were in our first house, we had a deep 2 car garage. The extra depth encouraged the piling of "stuff" against the side furthest from the overhead doors. My wife had purchased a bird feeder on a pole at a garage sale, and leaned it against said wall. I pulled in with my Stingray, and tapped the bottom of the pole - causing it to slowly rotate over center and start to fall toward my newly painted hood.  dropped the car in reverse, and floored the accelerator, The feeder continued to fall and bounced off one of my newly painted headlight covers. I vaguely remember my wife coming out to the garage to find out what the screeching tire noise was from, and seeing me swinging the bird feeder by the pole, smashing it into about a hundred pieces as I beat it against the floor.

Years later, we still laugh about that moment when we see bird feeders at garage sales.


naw, I let it all go.  

"Everything seeks to return to the earth." and so just take care (common sense), use constantly, and maintain. To me 'storage' means I don't need it. Several days toa wk and things get recycled.  Boat, motorcycle, truck, car...all the same

Advanced Driver

Another tip I have used for years is if you do not have heated storage, but you do have electricity, simply placing strategic fans during the winter months will save your car from rust.    People have argued with me online, but I have seen evidence where winters where I did not use fans I would have a light rust all over my brake rotors, where the winters I have used fans I notice no or very little rust on my rotors...


Living in the frozen tundra of the north (Northern Minnesota) has many challenges.  One thing most of us have learned is to put cardboard and/or plastic under your entire vehicle.  In the spring when the sun finally comes back out and temperatures get above freezing,  that concrete floor will sweat and cover the entire underside of your classic ride with moisture causing the rust and rot process to kick into high gear!  We have other fun things like, getting the snow load off you garage roof to prevent cave ins, ice dams that cause water to back up into your heated garage and of course -30 something before the wind chill factor kicks in.