Care for Collectible Cars in Winter

Tips for prepping and storing your collectible vehicles.

The idea of winterizing your collectible car or motorcycle might strike you as odd. After all, shouldn’t putting it inside and protecting it from the elements—and the corrosive salt people use to battle them—be your priority? Yes, says Jeff Walker, senior collector vehicle insurance specialist for Chubb Collector Car Insurance, but there are still measures you can take before you tuck your car away, to minimize problems come springtime. He suggests these simple tips, and also talking to a trusted mechanic about longer-term storage.

Change your oil. Even if you’ve only put 100 miles on the engine in a year, you should still change the oil at least once a year. If you have any contaminants or water in your oil, storage means letting them sit in the engine for months at a time. Be sure to change the oil filter as well.

Fuel. Modern-day gasoline contains ethanol—sometimes more than 10 percent—Walker notes. Ethanol absorbs water, and this can contribute to the gas and ethanol mix separating. Use a fuel stabilizer, and run the engine to ensure the stabilized fuel has made it to all fuel filters and the carburetor(s).

Put it away clean. Washing, waxing and polishing removes anything that could tarnish the finish, and helps prevent corrosion over winter. Don’t forget the interior, and keep the storage area dry to prevent mold. You can place a desiccant, or moisture-absorbing product, inside the vehicle. 

Tires. Parking your car for an extended period of time can create flat pots. Inflate your tire 10-15 psi higher than usual. Better yet, elevate and store your car safely on jackstands.

Battery. Cold air and disuse can kill a battery. Even worse, Walker cautions, extreme cold can freeze a battery, creating a big problem if the plastic case cracks. The best idea is to disconnect and remove the car battery. Keep it warm and charged, and read the manufacturer’s guidelines for storage and charging.