Preparing for winter – 5 top tips for classic car owners

Winter Classics New Blog

The temperature is slowly plummeting…which means it’s the time of year when many classic car owners decide to retreat from the road and shut up their classics & collections for the winter. However, like the art of driving itself, there’s a special knack to preparing your car for the season ahead, so we sat down with our senior underwriter Steve Simpson to ask for his tips on how owners can keep their vehicle safe and sound this winter.

1. Real beauty is on the underside

Many classic car owners will enjoy the opportunity to give their pride and joy a thorough clean before storing over the winter. But let’s not be superficial - this needs to include washing as much of the underside as possible and a deep-clean of the interior to help prevent damage from rodents or vermin. If not using axle stands, inflating tyres to an appropriate level can help to avoid flat-spotting. Ensure that anti-freeze is topped up and if not draining fuel, add a fuel stabilizer/corrosion inhibitor and run the engine for five minutes or so. These tasks may not be as instantly rewarding as a clean, wax and final polish of the coachwork, but you’ll certainly reap the rewards in the New Year.

2. Choose a safe storage space

It’s rare to see classic cars left parked out on a main road overnight, let alone over an entire season. But that doesn’t mean that all owners are treating their vehicles with due caution. We always recommend storing your vehicle in a locked garage, locked building or dedicated car storage facility during the winter months if possible. Although classic vehicles are far less prone to theft than modern, daily use cars, our data shows that the theft claim frequency during the winter months of November, December, January and February doubles for classic cars that are not securely stored.

3. Stick to the Goldilocks principle

Just like Goldilocks’ porridge, your storage space should be just right. Specifically, the space should be well-ventilated to avoid damp, while as an additional protection, inflatable storage devices are available to keep air moving and humidity at a safe level. Check whether your insurance policy covers these devices if they are lost or damaged due to fire, theft or attempted theft – we cover them up £500 in the event of any of the above, but that isn’t the case with all insurers. If you’re not using an inflatable device, then a breathable car cover with a soft interior lining will suffice, and will also protect against paintwork or interior fading if strong sunlight passes through any windows in the garage.

For older cars, removing the battery is recommended, however in newer vehicles this can cause issues with vehicle security or more complex electronics systems. Finally, use chocks rather than leaving the handbrake on if the vehicle is to be static for more than a few days at a time.

4. This is downtime, not hibernation

Your car isn’t a hedgehog – it isn’t a good idea to leave it sleeping for five months. If possible, it’s a good idea to take the car for a short drive every month or so to get the engine up to full operating temperature – only if the weather conditions are dry of course. This will help avoid brake and clutch seizures, keep mechanics appropriately lubricated and avoid tyre flat-spots. Simply idling the car without driving it may actually hasten corrosion issues as the engine will likely not reach full operating temperature. After all, no one wants corrosion for a Christmas present.

5. Don’t cancel your insurance policy!

While it may come as no surprise to hear an insurance provider shouting this from the roof tops, the reality is that it’s a good idea to keep vehicles insured irrespective of whether they’re currently being driven. We know it’s tempting to cancel your classic car insurance policy if your vehicle will not be in use during the winter, but always remember that fire, flood, vandalism and theft are risks that can happen at any time of the year – amongst many others besides. We settled one claim last winter where 100mph+ winds had blown the roof off our client’s garage, with his cherished car damaged by the falling masonry. As classic car insurance premiums are generally significantly cheaper than those for everyday modern cars, it can provide to be a very false economy to cancel insurance cover as soon as it gets cold.

Looking for a classic car or collection quotation? Contact our expert Enthusiast team classicquotes@ers.com | 0345 600 3890

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