The Garage – Winter Lay-up by Mike Owen of Owen Automotive

The major concerns are to protect your classic car from moisture and corrosion during the off-season if you take your car off the road. 

Bodywork – Firstly, do store your car in a garage or other dry space and use a low setting space heater or humidifier. Do not put it away wet.  A coat of wax on the paintwork and chrome will inhibit rust.  Wurth makes a product called “Film” which will protect chrome or other bare metal surfaces.  If the floor is concrete or asphalt, a plastic groundsheet will provide protection from moisture.  If the car is outside or in a carport, an old trick is to cover the engine with a carpet or mat to prevent condensation on the engine, bonnet interior, and engine bay.  Do not cover your car with a plastic cover or other material that does not breathe.  Fleece blankets work nicely. 

Suspension and tires – If the care will be resting on its tires, overinflate them to about 40 psi.  Another option is to put the car on jack stands.  Do this in a manner that suspends the car at the regular ride height to avoid twisting the bushings unnaturally. 

Brakes – Do not apply the handbrake during the lay-up to avoid the brake shoes sticking to the drums.  Silicone DOT 5 brake fluid does not absorb moisture.

Electrics – Disconnect the battery and hook it up to a maintainer.  Brian Roberts Auto Electric sells a unit called the “Genius” (#G750) that is worth considering.  Few batteries today have caps to check water levels.  Use baking soda and water to clean and neutralize acid on the battery and apply vaseline to the terminals.  Another thought for MGBs is to remove the battery to protect the box from possible corrosion.  If the fuel system is disconnected, start the car with the spark plugs removed several times during the lay-up to exercise the battery.  

Fuel system – Fill the fuel tank with high octane gas – one with no ethanol content.  Add a fuel stabilizer.  Some individuals advocate draining the fuel system.  This involves installing a switch to turn off the fuel pump and then running the car until it runs out of gas.  This can take several minutes until the engine completely dies.  This will prevent carburetor corrosion. 

Cooling system – Flush and change your coolant every 2-3 years to prevent corrosion build-up.  Another option is to use “Evans Waterless Engine Coolant” – particularly if the engine is made with any exotic metals.  It is critical to remove all previous coolant when making the switch.  Hugh Carroll is the local representative.  To flush the heater, disconnect the hoses and clean out with a garden hose.  

Engine – Another trick is to “fog the cylinders” by shooting a “Fog Oil” spray – for a ten count – into the cylinders to protect the piston rings and cylinder bores from damp.   Fall is a good time to change your oil if it is needed.  Use high viscosity oil like “Pennzoil 20W 50 GT Performance Racing Oil”.  It contains ZDDP which is beneficial for low mileage cars

Interior – Always put the hood up so that it is stretched to a correct fit.   One concern will be mice which can be kept at bay with mothballs or a noise emitter that drives them away.  They also enjoy snacking on plastic wiring or rubber fittings.  You can buy a canister containing pellets that absorb moisture from RV suppliers and place it in the cockpit.  This – with the hood and closed windows – will prevent mildew and mold developing.

Follow this and your beauty will be ready for its spring tune-up in a few months.