Vintage Car Storage
Whether you own a classic car that you take to car shows or simply have a favorite older vehicle, you want to be sure to take extra special care to preserve it. Chances are your car has been through a lot in its long life, and you want to make sure it continues to look good and run well. The best way to do that is to protect it from the elements by keeping it in a vehicle storage unit. Since lots of storage facilities let you rent a space on a month-to-month basis, they are a perfect option for storing classic cars. That way you have a place to store your vehicle during the winter months when you aren't showing your car, but you can keep it in your garage during the warmer weather when you are taking it to car shows. Most storage facilities have a few rules. Some common rules are vehicles must be in drivable condition, tires must be inflated and in good condition when storing it, your vehicle must be registered and insured, and you may not use your storage unit as a workshop.
Types of vehicle storage facilitiesMost self storage facilities have several options to choose from when storing your vehicle. The best way to choose a storage facility is determine what type of security you need, how much you want to spend, and how protected you want your car from the elements. Here are some options:
- Outdoor storage. This is usually the cheapest option, although not the best choice for long-term storage. It provides little protection against the elements and minimum security, but if you are only storing your car for a short time it is a good option. These are a good option for warm climates, but if you have a lot of snow or rain where you live, enclosed storage is preferred.
- Garage storage. As long as the unit is large enough and there is no chance of damage, some self-storage facilities allow you to store your car inside a regular storage unit. If the car can enter and exit safely without damage to the vehicle or the storage unit, the manager usually will allow you to store it there.
- Interior space. This is a space in a large building with central air conditioning and heat, offering climate-control and protection from the elements. These are usually the most secure option and the best environment for your car, but also the most expensive.
Preparing for storageHaving your car sit idly for months at a time can be damaging. Mildew can form, rust can occur, rubber can rot, and batteries can go dead. You want to be sure to take the proper precautions before you store it so your car is in tip-top condition when you are ready to drive it again. Here are steps to take to make sure your car is in the same condition that you left it in when you are ready to drive it in the spring:
- Find a storage location. Think about your needs for access when you do this.
- Detail and wash your car. Wash and wax the outside of the car and clean and vacuum the inside. You can also have this professionally done for about $100. A clean outside removes things that can eat away at the car's finish and prevents corrosion. A clean inside prevents things such as dirt, food, and residues from festering and causing mold or encouraging pests from entering your car. Be sure not to buff the chrome surfaces until you plan to remove the car from storage.
- Change or drain the oil. Dirty engine oil can thicken after long-term storage and make it difficult to start the car when you retrieve it.
- Drain the fuel tank or add stabilizer. If you plan to store the car for more than 6 months, you’ll want to drain the tank. Let all of the gas run out, as old gas can clog the carburetors and cause problems for the valves. If you only plan to store your car for a few months, you can add a can of gasoline stabilizer to preserve the gasoline and also prevent damage to the fuel system. Usually you will add 1 ounce of stabilizer for every 3-5 gallons of gas, but check the label on the stabilizer to be sure.
- Drain the cooling system. Disconnect the heater hoses and drain the heater, too. Leave the petcock open and the radiator cap off to circulate air.
- Drain the brake fluid and refill with new fluid. This will ensure against brake deterioration.
- Disconnect or remove the battery. Car batteries can leak acid and corrode the inside of the car if they sit unused. Disconnecting the battery is a simple process and will save you trouble later on. If you choose to remove it, wash it with a solution of water and baking soda, then top it off with distilled water. Be sure to store the battery in a dry place and off of concrete.
- Put tire jacks under the tires. This prevents the tires from getting flat spots and also takes the weight off of the tires. That way, you won't show up at your storage unit ready to take your car out for a drive only to find you need new tires. You can also put jack stands under the tires; remove the tires and put them in a corner with cardboard between each one, then cover them with a cloth or sheet.
- Depress the clutch and lock it. To prevent clutch plates from sticking together during storage, place a 2 x 4 between the clutch and the front of the seat cushion or frame.
- Final steps. Roll down the windows for circulation, put in some sealed boxes of baking soda to absorb moisture and reduce the chances of mold and mildew forming, put a plastic bag over the carburetor to keep it dry, and put a rag in the tailpipe to keep out animals.
- Use a car cover. Even if your car is in a climate-controlled environment, damages can still occur. A car cover will keep it clean and prevent things from falling on it. Your best choice is a cotton flannel fabric, which allows the car to breathe and air to circulate; plus, they are soft on your car's paint and wax. Polyester/cotton blends are a poor choice, as they trap heat and moisture. Plastic should also be avoided, as it does not allow air circulation.