The 3 Biggest Mistakes Classic Car Owners Make When Storing the Vehicle

Owners of classic cars usually can't wait for spring. During the winter, classic vehicles need to hibernate in specialized areas. They aren't built to withstand slippery road conditions and the winter chill. But spring, after the temperatures warm and the frost melts away, owners of classic cars get ready to reintroduce their pride and joys to the road.

It's easy to trick yourself into believing that the way you store your classic car doesn't matter. After all, the car is just sitting there for a few months. You aren't doing anything with it. So how could storing it cause any damage?

You'd be surprised to know that there are multiple fuel and oil issues that might arise due to improper or irresponsible storing of a car. If you know about these problems ahead of time, you can make sure your baby is properly stored next winter. This list may also help you diagnose the source of potential issues that you see in your classic car.

Turn the Engine Off

It's tempting to turn on the engine during the winter months, even if you have no intention of driving the car. Sometimes you just want to make sure the engine will still run. Sometimes you miss the purr of your motor. But experts caution the owners of classic cars against letting vehicle engines run during their hibernation, even if it's only for a few minutes.

This is because the engine is cold when you start the car, which causes moisture in the crankcase, blow-by, and fuel dilution. When you run the engine only for a few minutes, the engine won't warm up enough to evaporate these things. This means that if you turn the engine on for just a few minutes just a few times each winter, these problems will build up and become caked into your engine before spring.

Running the car for longer than a few minutes can pose a carbon monoxide risk, even if you're doing so in a well-ventilated garage. The only reason that the engine should be turned on during the winter months is if you need to drive the vehicle somewhere. Otherwise, don't touch it.

To Change the Oil or Not to Change the Oil?

Oftentimes, people instinctively want to change the oil and other fluids in their vehicle. If you've managed to keep from touching the engine all winter, that means that none of the oil has burned away. It's just been sitting there stagnant. That can't be good for the car, can it?

It actually depends on the circumstances. In some cases, you'll want to change your oil before you hit the road, but in others, an oil change is superfluous at best and damaging at worst.

If your engine was stored properly, meaning that it wasn't run for several minutes on several occasions during the winter, then the oil should be able to stay stagnant in the engine for a full six months and remain drivable. Experts have cited the following three scenarios as reasons you may or may not need an oil change:

  • Cars that have been started periodically and run for a few minutes during the winter months should have an immediate oil change
  • If the oil wasn't changed when you first stored the car, change the car's oil
  • If you put fresh oil into the vehicle when you stored it, there's no need to change the oil

Experts also recommend putting fresh oil into a vehicle along with storage additives directly before you store the car. These additives help to prolong the life of your oil and avoid any problems that might arise from stagnation. There are some available oils that already have included storage additives. Storage additives are also sold separately by many retailers and can be easily combined with your vehicle's conventional oil.

Protect Your Fuel

Regardless of whether or not you change your oil before you store the vehicle, it's possible for your fuel to become a problem. Problems with classic cars are based in the fuel as often as they're based in the engine. You're especially likely to have problems with your fuel if you filled the car with an ethanol-based or blended fuel before you stored it.

For classic cars, ethanol fuel is a huge no-no. The gas tanks receive oxygen through their filler neck. Meanwhile, ethanol naturally absorbs the air's moisture. Moisture can cause huge amounts of damage when found in a fuel tank. On top of that, impurely mixed fuel reduces your vehicle's overall power output and doesn't burn with the same efficiency. Depending on the amount of moisture absorbed, it may even be impossible to start the engine at all.

When you fill the tank completely before storing the car, you have a better chance of extended fuel life. This is because there's not as much room for moisture to grow inside the fuel tank. But if the tank was nearly empty when the car was stored, the little fuel that's left will be garbage. It will have been exposed to too much air and moisture.

For this reason, it makes sense to fill your tank before you store the car. Double check that you use fuel without an ethanol blend. If you can't start the car because the tank is filled with moist ethanol fuel, you'll have to purchase new fuel and haul it all the way back to your garage.

There are additional solutions to the problem. Fuel additives have been designed for fuel injected and carbureted engines. When you first take the vehicle on the road in the spring, experts also highly recommend adding a fuel injector or a carburetor to your fuel supply.

Where to Store Your Classic Car

You'll want to find a safe place for your vehicle to wait out the winter. Not everyone has a beautiful, warm garage where they can keep their favorite vehicle. But there are companies who will allow you to rent lockers for the storing of your vehicle.

To learn more about your storage options, call Real Storage Group today at 1.877.215.7325