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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

5 essentials that allow your classic to sleep peacefully when the snow falls

Melissa Jones writes: I'm new to old cars. Is there anything special you do to prepare a car for winter storage? Yes. How much or how little you do depends on the length of the layover and how thorough you want to be.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/5-essentials-that-allow-your-classic-to-sleep-pea...
71 REPLIES 71
audiobycarmine
Technician

All great advice, Rob.

With fuel, I'd mention filling with the highest octane available. Adding Chevron's Techron can't hurt, even though it's not a stabilizer per se. It can do wonders with fuel lines, carburetors and injectors.

One other thing — Folks, please don't ever use "glue traps". They're incredibly cruel, resulting in a prolonged and terrifying death, frequently accompanied by self mutilation and even amputations.
Truthworldwide
Advanced Driver

Seconded on both counts. Use a Top Tier brand with Sta-Bil for the best results and easiest restarts (Top Tier retailers from Consumer Reports are 76, Aloha Petroleum, Amoco, ARCO, Beacon, BP, Breakaway, Break Time, Cenex, Chevron, CITGO, Conoco, Costco, CountryMark, Diamond Shamrock, Entec, Esso, Express Mart, Exxon, Fast Fuel, HFN, Hele, Holiday, Kwik Star, Irving, Kirkland Signature, Kwik Star, Kwik Trip, Marathon, Metro Petro, MFA, Mobil, Ohana Fuels, Phillips 66, PUMA, QT, Quik Trip, Road Ranger, Shamrock, Shell, Sinclair, Sunoco, SuperAmerica, SuperFuels, Texaco, Valero, Value America, Wow, and Win Win.)

Secondly, *never* use a glue trap. I'm amazed they're still sold, honestly. Use a proper neck break trap and size it appropriately for the animals you need to eliminate. They're only trying to be what they are, the glue is a particularly inhumane way to protect your vehicle.
Rider79
Technician

I second that, on the glue trap. Watching a mouse struggle while glued down is quite disturbing. And, in warmer weather, one could accidentally catch a lizard or toad, which of course do a lot of good, catching insects. The old-fashioned spring trap is still the best for most uses, and the mice generally die almost instantly.
Rick2
Instructor

I had to cut our cat out of one of those glue traps once. Never bought them again.
franimal007
Intermediate Driver

Dryer sheets work, DO NOT USE GLUE TRAPS. Idiots use stuff like that.
GrantMac001
Pit Crew

A friend of mine had a R44 chopper and said dryer sheets affect the computer, I wonder if it be the same for cars ?
B2GRAN
New Driver

I think all the computers on my 68 Chevelle should be fine. Some of the volatile chems on the sheets must form a residue. Good to know on the newer cars.
petersalt
Advanced Driver

The octane rating on your gas has ZERO to do with the varnish, gum or residue problems which develop when the gas evaporates. Buying gas with good detergent additives COULD benefit those situations, but paying for more octane than your motor requires just wastes $$$.
BMW323
Intermediate Driver

If you have an older car with fuel injection, there may be problems with the injection nozzles if the car stands for too long. I was advised a long time ago to start the car once a month and travel at least 20 miles. Thus keeping the injection nozzles clean. If it is winter road conditions, the engine is started and runs hot properly in the garage.
Ranger68
Pit Crew

Even though I live in a dry climate (Southern Nevada), I have had problems with varnish causing fuel floats sticking in vintage Weber carbs.

SeaFoam and Stabil now seem to keep this problem to a minimum.
hyperv6
Collector

Fuel stabilizer in most cases will help negate the Alcohol damage and help injectors and other bits.

Marvel Mystery oil also helps keep fuel systems protected.

Do fill the tank full and then use premium as octane can fall over time and it will help keep the level up.

You can park on high density foam to help with flat spots.

Use a good quality cover if you have hood paint.

I use a tender and what is called a Wizzvent. It comes on with high humidity and vents air out of the garage. It circulates the air to to keep humidity down.

I also insulated and sealed the garage well. This saves on the heating bill and in the summer it is cooler than the outside too.

As for traps they are all more human than I would be if I ever caught one eating my seats or wires lol!

Oh if you can start and run the car once a month if you can do so with the garage door open. I know most of you know to open the door but there is always one in ever crowd. Lol!

petersalt
Advanced Driver

Octane degradation is slow, unless the gas tank is left un-capped. 93 octane fuel MIGHT be down to 92.6 after a six-month layup. Octane boosters are relatively cheap to add if you have to do a 12 months layup.
ctaarman
Detailer

I used to do these same five steps until four years ago when I discovered this one step process:

Step 1: Move to South Carolina

With this simple one step process, my cars are now available year round.

Ahhh, happiness!
Suz
New Driver

I love this step:) I live in South Carolina.
Just bought a 1932 Ford Model A Phaeton replicar, factory built in 1973 by Glassic.
Love the old timey look but wanted newer capabilities.
4wheel2wheel
Intermediate Driver

I too used the one step method of Winter lay up.
South Florida in my case.
Now we enjoy our 1980 Shay Model A, Super Deluxe Roadster all year long. I agree also with modern running gear and the proper of a 1929 Model A.
Suz
New Driver

Just wondering...do you live close to Greenville?
Looking for recommendations for local mechanics and partial restoration work.
jaysalserVW
Advanced Driver

I had to laugh--I too, live in a "temperate" zone. Our vintage car group meets year 'round. Loving it!
Sonettman
Pit Crew

In addition to all of the other helpful hints, I also put steel wool to block the openings to the air intake and exhaust pipes. It keeps the critters from finding a small dark place to nest. Just be sure to take them back out in the spring, especially the intake!
RG440
Technician

Tin Foil and Rubber Bands eliminates the rust and dust aspect that steel wool leaves behind 😉
PDXCarrera
New Driver

I store my cars with non-ethanol premium or race gas so they start & run well when out of long-term storage. You can find non-ethanol fuels in your area at pure-gas.org as there is a state-by-state listing. Been doing just this for 45+ years and never a problem.
DTMgetsITdone53
New Driver

me too Bud!! I filler up!!! Definitely worth the price paid for 89 or 90 Octane "ethanol-free" fuel. My old Vette fires right up after I prime the carb upon taking it out of storage with no "spits or sputters". I still add a bottle of "dry gas" just coz as well to keep water/moisture at a minimum. As far as critters go, moth balls under the car, dryer sheets inside the car seem to keep them at bay, but now that the car is in a renovated garage barn there is no way critters can get in. Make sure you check the garage door seal, if you have a garage door, and replace the seal on the bottom as you need to and "cut to fit" so its and nice clean seal at the sides. just a recommendo... thanks... DTM
Rider79
Technician

There are many areas where non-ethanol gas is not available, at least off the racetrack or airport. I live in one of those metropolitan areas.
SCHNELL
Intermediate Driver

Good to pump tires to 40 psi to avoid surprises later. Whatever climate always use some form of anti-freeze in the coolant system as water by itself tends to harm aluminum over time. Some folks even cap low hanging exhaust oenings to keep critters out.
wdb
Advanced Driver

I'm ambivalent about covering a car that is already indoors. In my particular environment I have only mild concern about rodents, but that cover can't help but make a car look even more enticing to the little critters. I think I'd rather dust it off.
Jackknife
New Driver

No one seems to mention what I believe to be the most important topics.
Always change your oil. Your car typically does not get driven a lot but when it does it heats up, then when it cools down the crankcase condensates and you build up moisture on the interior surfaces. Make sure to drain the oil every fall and replace with nice fresh oil.
Secondly, check your antifreeze for its protection limits. Depending on where you live you want to be sure your engine is protected to a point lower than it will experience during the winter months.
In addition, we wax our car in the fall and don’t remove the blush. Then in the spring we wipe off the blush. You car will come out of storage all shiny and new in the spring sun shine.
RG440
Technician

I have driven cars entire winters applying oil to underbody with a hand pump sprayer and left wax on for the entire white/grey/black (mud season) The mud took over when the oil started waning. Then wax off for the birds and bees season. Always started the white season with the best snow tires available and watched the snow fly behind the Road Runners and C-body’s back in the day they were everyday transportation.
slim
New Driver

I would add to keep the storage area as well lighted as possible. My experience is that car covers provide the darkness rodents seem to crave so I no longer cover my cars. The engine compartments are open to light. All batteries have maintainers connected. The cars are in a heated building and do get routine dusting and detailer application. Dryer sheets, in my experience, seem to have the desired effect on reducing rodent activity, the more smell the better. This last bit may seem a bit over the top but when I open the exterior doors for any period of time I turn music to a high decibel level until the door is shut again.
Classictbirds
New Driver

All good suggestions however, if your cars are stored in an area where moisture is present (like condensations on a concrete garage floor in an unheated garage) putting the car on jack stands will extend the shocks. I have had the piston rods in the shocks rust which caused shocks to need replacing. Suggest over inflating tires for short term storage or putting movable cradles under tires for longer storage to prevent flat spots. Big believer in inflatable car capsules and disscent. As to repellents for mice, I use moth balls, peppermint oil and snake skins placed in mesh bags. Check pet supply stores and have them save the skins from shedding snakes. Mice hate the smell of snakes.
EbrewedMN
New Driver

Winter storage…Non Oxy fuel with some sea foam. Disconnect and or pull battery. Irish spring soap shredded with cheese grater around floor. Dryer sheets in engine compartment and in car. Steel wool or tin foil in tailpipe. Cover with soft cover. THANKS Hagerty for all you do and I love the magazine.
Daniel
Intermediate Driver

I use every trap available to stop the rats and mice. They will destroy your ride in short order. Especially if you are in a rural area. Decon and Ramik are tasty treats for these pests. You can't talk them out of it, you must destroy them!
RG440
Technician

That works on mice and rats if you got them but also attracts them if you don’t. Sound like a cat would be in order…
mfp4073
Advanced Driver

I also use every trap available, about 60 in total including different types and baits. (No glue traps). The buggers must run The Gauntlet if they want a crack at my cars. Its like a seen out of the movie Mouse Hunt. No kidding!
RG440
Technician

The last mousetrap you will ever use is JAWZ by JT Eaton, the are a plastic version of the conventional mouse trap WITH TEETH and a hair trigger. I bought a 4 pack years ago and never looked back. My favorite one is all war torn with over 50 mice and aptly named after 25, MEAN GREEN !!! Check them out…
hearsedriver
Detailer

on the fuel situation, use premium fuel. yes it costs more, but isn't your pride and joy worth it? that way you avoid all issues in vintage vehicles that come along with today's ethanol contaminated gas, reduced corrosion in the fuel tank and lines, no corrosion attack and ugly green scunge around brass carburettor parts, no rubber fuel line rot from the ethanol........
i do not use ethanol contaminated gas in my Harley's, my hearses, nor my 47 Plymouth, or small engines (lawnmower, snow blower etc)
only my 07 Ram gets that crap, but only because the truck was engineered to handle that "stuff"

as far as mice are concerned, i found a repellent sold at RV shops called "rodent away" which is mesh bags with organic material we humans do not mind or find repugnant, but the mice sure do. a couple bags inside the car will last several months, all Canadian winter in my case.
JSievers
Instructor

Premium fuel contains up to 10% ethanol, just like regular grade fuel.
Paze
New Driver

What's the difference in disconnecting negative or positive cable on battery? I have heard both ways for different reasons.
"I hate you meeses to pieces" , for all of us baby boomers who remember Pixie and Dixie cartoons with Mr. Jinx
BobV
Intermediate Driver

You should disconnect the ground cable. That way if something should short the "hot" side of the battery to ground it would not be an issue. Some of the older cars have positive ground and most of the newer cars of the mid 50s and up have negative ground.
Teddy-sxm
New Driver

Wet or damp concrete floor of the garage can do a number on your tires over time.
I used one foot square pieces of quarter inch plywood, one under each tire. It kept the rubber from “corroding”.
RG440
Technician

Has worked decades for me…
SPURLEE
Pit Crew

All are great suggestions. Starting a "dry" engine after sitting for weeks is unavoidable. Starting a dry engine several times during the winter seems like unnecessary wear. Am I right?
Rider79
Technician

True on the wear, but some cars simply don't want to start if they sit too long. I have had cars and motorcycles that can sit three months (with batteries charged), and then start well. I have had others that don't want to start if they sit over two weeks, necessitating the use of starter fluid (not the best thing, for sure) if they do sit too long.

And, periodic starting should leave the internal parts coated with an oil film, for a while at least, it would seem.
GoFast
Advanced Driver

stretching that cheap plastic cover over a dirty car is a bad idea. Car should be washed and waxed. A cloth cover is easier on the paint. Use the cheap plastic wrap as the final layer of protection. Don't you guys no nuttin'?
MustangJim
Technician

I fill my tank with top tier fuel ( that's the only fuel I use in all of my cars, all of the time, regardless). I put an extra 3 or 4 lbs in the tires , I clean and cover. I like to be able to take the car out once a month for a 20 mile drive but sometimes there is so much salt I don't bother. My conflict is, do I let the car sit unstated for two months , or even 3 in a bad winter or should I start the car and let it idle for 20 minutes once in a while. What are the thoughts of my colleagues here. I've heard negatives to both trains of thought but I think it's one of those 6 of one and half dozen of another things. What are your thoughts?
Rider79
Technician

I often start them in the winter, and let them run for 20-30 minutes. I always want the temperature gauge to reach normal, and stay there a while. I also run the automatics thru all gear positions, pausing a few seconds at each, to be sure fluid has fully circulated thru the transmission.
Benzhead
New Driver

It appears the fellow in the pic is covering his Buick with a plastic tarp. We should all know, be it inside our out, that is not good for the paint.
RG440
Technician

Rob, I disagree with your Bottom Line that anything is better than nothing on rodents BUT do agree with your direction and our about keeping rodents from our beloved vehicles! MOTHBALLS ARE BAD!!! They are EPA regulated and illegal to use in vehicles. Unfortunately, mothballs are sometimes improperly used in locations not listed on labels are a violation of the label and are illegal.
Mothballs sometimes are used illegally to repel pests not listed on labels. Use mothballs pesticide products to control the pests listed on the label only! Outdoor use of mothballs is also a violation of the label.
Remember mothballs are not legal.
Not to mention the absolute destruction of the vehicles resale price. The only time I would see fit is if the vehicle is in a rat/mouse infested barn and the precious ride was surrounded by them (circle the HEMI) but once again that’s illegal.
A couple of other things I would like to mention is leaving the hood open keeps mice from building nests with the under hood insulation on top of the air cleaner and battery along with a good vacuuming before storage of all the summers crumbs keep them at bay! Thank for the article
JBourne
New Driver

I have found that Irish Spring and dryer sheets do NOT work as a mouse deterrent.
The mice literally made a nest out of both!
I have found that Peppermint oil on cotton balls indeed does work. Plus it makes your interior smell nice.
As far as fuel, I always fill up with 100 percent gas, I would never store a car with any ethanol in it. Ethanol and moisture will wreak havoc very quickly. Personally, Stabil is cheap and easy insurance just in case short term storage turns into long term.
Battery Tenders are awesome as they don't over charge the batt. I store one car in the enclosed trailer, I installed a solar battery tender on the trailer,
Of course make sure to have the correct strength anti freeze for your climate. Also use distilled water in it to prevent electrolysis.
renchero63
Pit Crew

This will be my second winter here in Pa. with an old car. A 71 TR-6. Last year I kept the tank full and I would start it occasionally, but other than that I didn't do much and when Spring rolled around it was no problem. The closed cell battery didn't miss a beat.
My only concession this year was to install insulated flooring on one side of the garage. It was expensive, but I think it will help the tires and also keep moisture from the underside. Already looking forward to spring.
RagtopJunkie
Intermediate Driver

In my experience, car covers give too much cover to the rodents that want to live in the car, with or without repellants. I keep my ragtop partially open inside my garage, to avoid crevices that mice love to nest in, and the trunk and deck lid open for the same reason. The car will need a good cleaning by Spring, but it's worth it to keep the critters out.