Winter Hibernation and protection for your Classic Car

It’s getting darker earlier, the temperature is dropping, it’s that time of year again where Classic Car owners are looking to put their cars away into hibernation to protect them during the Winter months.

If you plan this correctly,  your Classic Car should start first time when you wake it up and bring it out of hibernation.

There are some simple steps to follow to ensure that your Classic Car has a comfortable hibernation period:-

  • Mechanical – Lube Check – Find all grease points/nipples on the car (i.e. Prop Shaft, Front Suspension, Hand Brake Cable and King Pin/Stub Axle Assembly). Three or Four pumps with a grease gun is usually sufficient.
  • Locks – Lubricate (White Grease or specific lock lubricant is best) up door lock mechanisms and latches.
  • Oil Change – Clean out the engine and refresh the oil. We’d recommend using Millers Oil Flush to clean the engine and then replace the oil with the correct specification i.e. Millers Oil Classic Pistoneeze 20W50. There is a specific Millers Classic Preservation Oil 20W50 for Classic Cars that do minimal mileage (less than 2000 gentle road miles each season) and are kept in storage for long periods.
  • Coolant (if not using Evans Coolant) – Top up the coolant level to it’s maximum with a 50:50 Antifreeze mix.
  • Belts – To ensure no strain or stress is placed loosen the Alternator Belt slightly to detention it.
  • Fuel System – Unleaded petrol goes off after a few weeks, the best way to deal with it is to invest in a product that will protect your Fuel Tank, Carburettor and other fuel system parts during your Classic Cars hibernation period. Once the product is added, remember to also block off any open fuel breathers to ensure the product works efficiently. A product such as Millers Oils Tank Safe would be a good investment. Some people advise brimming the petrol tank with fresh fuel prior to Hibernation to minimise air exposure etc., this would have worked ‘back in the day’ however with modern additives such as Ethanol  this method could cause more harm as Ethanol (currently at 5%+ in unleaded fuels in the UK) is not good for Classic Car fuel systems.
  • Bodywork/Exterior/Interior – Thoroughly wash your Classic Car ensuring all dirt, traffic film, and tar spots are removed. Complete a full Wax Polish of all of the bodywork. A Waxoyl of the underneath of the car would be beneficial as well.
  • Give your Classic Car a good hoover out and if applicable, treat any leather seats to a good clean with a Leather Cleaning product and if available, use a leather treatment. This should help protect the interior against mould and fungi growth.
  • Tyres – To prevent flat spots from having the car stood with its tyres in the same position during its hibernation you can slightly over inflate the tyres to between 40 and 50 psi. The best solution is to raise the wheels off the ground completely using axle stands.
  • Asleep for the Winter – Your Classic Car is best kept undercover (ideally garaged) during it’s hibernation period. Some people advise Carpet (or other floor covering) to park the car over to prevent damp rising up onto the car chassis and underside. Park the car up and either use a block to chock the wheels to keep the car in position or jack it up if using axle stands to keep the tyres off the floor. Leave the hand brake off once the car is in its final resting position (this will prevent handbrake seizing). Leave one or two windows slightly open to allow any moisture to escape and the interior to breath healthily.
  • Electrical – Once your Classic Car is parked up ready for it’s hibernation period, there a couple of options regarding the electrical system. The best option is to invest in a trickle charger/battery conditioner which will keep the battery charged to optimum levels. The second (and most common option used) is to disconnect the earth terminal on the car battery. This will stop the battery draining. Please note, if going for this option it is recommended to check with your insurance company first because if the car has an alarm or a tracker fitted as it may invalidate your insurance.

The second to last thing to do is to put an approved car cover (or old clean Cotton Sheet) over the whole vehicle to help protect the bodywork whilst the car is hibernating.

The last task would be to remember to contact the DVLA to declare your Classic Car as SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Failing to SORN when necessary carries an automatic £80 penalty. Note:- This is not applicable if your car is classed as historic and therefore exempt from vehicle tax.

Whilst your Classic Car is in hibernation it wouldn’t hurt to check on it now and again, operating (pressing up and down) the clutch pedal a few times will assist with keeping the clutch from sticking/seizing and the odd spinning of the wheels – assuming the car is on axle stands, this will keep wheel bearings free.

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