Many people who enjoy using their historic vehicles for long parts of the year, don’t want to use them over the winter period and so decide to lay up their vehicles - or “winterise” them. This is one of the best methods of protecting your vehicle from the effects of salted roads, watery conditions and general dirt.
So, before you say goodbye to your pride and joy, here are some tips and a useful checklist from our partner, Motul.
It might seem like a waste of time to wash, clean and polish the bodywork, but if you are planning to put a cover over the vehicle, ut helps to reduce the risk of dirt becoming trapped and marking the paintwork.
Even if no cover is fitted, inevitably dust will gather on the paintwork, so it is much easier to wipe this off if the exterior has been polished or waxed. Motul now has a full range of car care products - as well as the cloths, wipes and brushes necessary to apply and/or polish as required. The range, which deals with most aspects of exterior and interior care is readily available either in-store or directly to you online (www.motul.com - for your nearest stockist).
Please note that it’s also wise to periodically remove the cover to allow the vehicle to breathe - it helps to reduce the risk of damp settling inside the car. It’s also a good idea to run the engine from time to time..
Towards the end of a busy season, engine oils contain products of combustion such as acids, soot, wear metals and other contaminates. Leaving this dirty, used oil in the engine over the winter exposes the vehicle to potentially harmful corrosion.
This can be considerably worsened by condensation, because the engine and fuel system effectively ‘breathe’ in moisture during the lay-up period.
Consider changing the used engine oil to a fresh charge of a high-quality engine lubricant and run the engine briefly to ensure that all the components are coated with fresh oil. Motul has a full range of Classic lubricants for cars of different eras each with special properties designed to cater for the needs of engines of a particular period. Motul is one of very few engine oil suppliers - with its Classic 20W-50, for example - to include a ‘tackiness’ additive to ensure that the metal surfaces are coated with a protective layer that prevents condensate from adhering to the metal surfaces by preferentially wetting them and so eliminating winter lay-up corrosion.
Should the fuel in the tank be drained or left as is over the winter lay-up? Petrol can deplete and go off after three or four months, but mixing what’s there with some fresh fuel should eliminate any potential problems with using it.
Another problem from old petrol is sand particle-like deposits, which can block up the carburettor. And the ethanol in petrol can extract moisture from the air, resulting in a layer of water in the bottom of the fuel tank.
Obviously here draining the tank before winter storage would help to avoid such problems - if your vehicle is prone to this - however, a product like Motul’s Fuel Stabilizer keeps the fuel in good condition throughout the Winter months, ready for use in Spring and a full tank will help ensure this is the case.
While some fluids benefit from being changed before storage, other fluids, such as brake and clutch fluids will deteriorate over the winter months, mainly by absorbing moisture from the air, as will any opened bottles of brake fluid. It is better to change these fluids in Spring, just before returning the vehicle to the road and Motul has a full range of options to ensure you make the right choice for your vehicle.
Trickle-charging the battery over winter, whether it remains with the vehicle, or is removed, is worthwhile instead of risking it going flat and having to fully charge it up again. If the levels inside the battery can be checked and topped up, do this as well. And if the battery is remaining with the vehicle, clean the terminals and apply petroleum jelly to protect them from corrosion.
The engine coolant must contain an appropriate quantity of antifreeze to avoid the risk of it freezing over winter. If you are unsure, test it with an antifreeze hydrometer, which will help to measure its freezing point. Avoid mixing blue- and pink-coloured coolant, which can congeal and block waterways and even the water pump - ask your Motul stockist for advice, if in any doubt.
Windscreen washer fluid should also contain a suitable screen wash to avoid reservoir deterioration.
Moving your vehicle periodically throughout storage will help avoid flat spots on tyres which can appear if the vehicle remains static. Tyre savers can also be used to help reduce the risk of flat spots. Under-inflated tyres put a greater strain on the sidewalls, so it’s wise to over-inflate the tyres by 10-15% at the start of winter storage.
Occasionally components can become seized through corrosion, such as the bonnet release, handbrake and even the clutch. Some are more difficult to avoid than others.
Leaving the handbrake off with the wheels chocked and a low gear selected (manual gearbox) can help to preserve the handbrake.
Applying a light grease to the bonnet release mechanism and any other similar mechanisms (e.g. the boot release) and even the door latches can help to reduce the risk of them becoming rusty over winter and difficult to operate. Spraying grease inside key holes also helps to keep them lubricated as they can potentially freeze if the temperature drops below zero.
Spraying a light grease over the handbrake mechanism, particularly if it’s located underneath the vehicle, will help to keep it free moving. Some braking systems have a semi-mechanical compensator fitted for the rear brakes, which is operated according to the load being carried. This is also worth lubricating to avoid seizure.
Motul has a full range of greases and other maintenance products to help prevent parts seizures so check out what you might need - and if you require any further advice contact your local Motul stockist for more information.