How to Store a Classic Car
January 13, 2015
Storing your classic car in the proper environment will keep your baby in mint condition – especially if you live in a wintery climate. Here are nine things to consider when choosing or building a storage space for your car.
If you live in the Midwest, Old Man Winter is once again giving us the cold shoulder, which means car enthusiasts have a lot of work to do. You must detail it thoroughly, and if you won’t be driving or starting it you should drain your fluids, grease your joints, and bleed your brakes.
It is your baby, after all, and you work hard to keep it in pristine condition.
But all that work could be for naught if you do not store your car in the right conditions. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you store your car this season.
1. Opt for a heated storage space. You know the effects the elements can have on a classic car. Ultraviolet rays break down rubber and vinyl over time and can also fade paint. Rain, snow and sleet — especially in the Midwest, where precipitation is typically acidic — lead to rust and water spots. Water can also break down the car’s finish.
Just because you store the vehicle indoors does not mean you are resistant to the elements.
Oscillating temperatures can wear on your car’s rubber, oil and detail. Vinyl expands and contracts if regularly subjected to extreme heat and cold, and can end up cracking. Surfaces can also become weathered.
Choosing a heated storage space means keeping your classic car in more pristine condition. The best way to avoid those oscillating temperatures is to store your car at 50 degrees (the norm among classic car enthusiasts).
Also, opting to keep your storage space heated means you can clean, condition, wax and dress the tires in winter months without long johns and a puffy coat.
2. Design your building to meet your needs. A lot of people who store their cars also have workshops in the vicinity, or maybe even a “man cave” area of the building with a bar, couch, television and refrigerator. Your heated storage space can double as a social space.
The size and design of your building will depend on the number of cars you are storing, and whether or not you decide to also store tools, lifts or a work bench.
3. You may want to opt for a gravel surface in an unheated building. Moisture can be tough to control in an unheated building. Storing on a gravel base instead of a concrete one can decrease the level of moisture inside an unheated storage space.
New concrete takes one or two years to cure, which gives off a lot of moisture.
Additionally, if the cured concrete absorbs any precipitation on its edges — whether from soil or rain — it can spread throughout the entire slab, adding excess moisture to the air in your building.
4. Park your vehicle on a thick piece of plastic. Use plastic or foam insulation as a moisture barrier. You do not want moisture from the floor to destroy your car’s underbody, exhaust or brake components.
5. Ensure you have enough stabilizer. Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas and run your car for 15 minutes. This ensures your fuel system has enough stabilizer throughout your vehicle before storing.
6. Keep your car’s moving parts lubricated. First, we recommend taking out your battery and storing it elsewhere. Use a trickle charger to keep it topped off.
Then, once a month, take the battery to your car’s storage space and run the car for 10 minutes. This keeps the pumps and other moving parts lubricated.
Keep in mind the exhaust needs to be managed. You want to avoid filling your storage building with exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide.
7. Ensure adequate ventilation. If you plan to paint, drain gas or introduce other toxic fumes in your storage space, make sure it is properly ventilated.
An uninsulated building should have a vented roof, vented eaves and adequate window and door ventilation to ensure airflow when working with toxic fumes.
8. Make sure your floor has drainage. With the ability to wash your car inside, you can take it out during the winter and wash off the corrosive salt elements immediately upon your return.
9. Choose a post-frame building for more height. If you plan to stack classic cars on top of one another using a lift or platform, or would also like to store a boat, opt to build a post-frame building.
Post-frame construction is stronger and allows for taller buildings than stick built construction because it uses laminated columns for the truss supports in comparison to a single stick of lumber. It will allow for greater height than a stick built building.
For anything beyond a traditional garage size, it would be a lower cost given the number and strength of trusses engineered into your building.
Storing a classic car is not only about detailing, draining and greasing. It is also about heating, ventilating and choosing the correct building design for your needs.
If you want a smooth ride come spring, and to save time and money in the long run, be sure your storage space is as exceptional as your car.