This post advises owners of classic cars on how to prepare their cars for long term storage. A simple guide for owners with little mechanical knowledge.

How to Prepare Your Car for Long Term Storage

January 1, 2022


Preparing your car for long term storage can be a time consuming yet ultimately beneficial process when considering the long term effects of laying your car up for an extended period without due care and attention.Here are our top 10 tips to prepare your car for long term storage that will save you time and money in the long term.

1. Get your car serviced

Our first recommendation when preparing your car for long term storage is always this:Get your vehicle serviced.Seriously, consider getting your car serviced by a good local dealership or trusted independent garage.Explain to them that you’ll be laying your car up for the long term.At the very least you'll want them to check and top-up where necessary all fluids such as oil, coolant and brake fluid, as well as changing the oil filter.

2. Get your car valeted inside and out

Clean and dry your car inside and out.Definitely make sure it is completely dry (especially carpets) before you put any kind of cover over it.If you don't have a air-hose at home, consider taking your car for a short run (15-20mins) just after cleaning to dry the brake pads and other hard-to-dry areas.Drying your car is as important as washing it.A dry car has less chance of rust building up during storage.

Step 3. Check for litter

Have a really good check for hidden rubbish – especially anything perishable or edible – which could rot or attract unwanted attention.Main culprits are under the seats and in the pockets behind the seats. In the door pockets (especially the back seat door pockets if you have them) and in the glove-box.Also check the area where the spare wheel is kept - this is often a damp area in older cars. And in the boot generally.Check in and under:

  • Car seats (between the seat and the back bolster).
  • Car seat pockets
  • Boots & Hoods
  • Spare wheel compartments
  • Door pockets
  • Glove compartments
  • Underfloof matts
  • in the storage compartments near the steering wheel and between the fornt seats

Step 4. Fill your car with fuel

Fill the fuel tank to the brim with a premium grade fuel. This helps avoid condensation building up in the tank. If you’re worried about the fuel going off, you could try adding some fuel stabiliser to help.

Step 5. Park up with the bonnet or twoing eye facing out

When you store your car for any length of time, it's useful to know you can get it out in the open again even if the worse happens. Therefore it's might be wise to park up with the bonnet and towing facing outwards.It’s far easier to revive, jump-start with a dead battery or or tow away with the towing eye (if it's not rusted to death) if it’s is easy to access!The good majority of cars (obviously not all) have their batteries at the front, and even if they don’t, there may be points under the bonnet that let you connect to the battery.

Step 6. Attach your car’s battery to a battery conditioner

There is no real need to unattach and remove the car’s battery – although many car owner forums will have you do just that.It is a good idea to keep the battery maintained and charged using a good 12v or 6v car battery conditioner.You’ll be delighted when you classic fires up happily after a long rest – we use and recommend CTek battery conditioners.

Step 7. Leave your handbrake off and the classic car in gear (or in ‘P’ for park). Check your tyres and adjust the pressures.

Leave your classic car either in ‘Park’ if it’s an automatic or in first gear with the handbrake off – this will help prevent your brakes seizing over time.You may feel more comfortable, if there is a slight incline for example, placing wheel chocks in front and behind each tyre to prevent the classic car from rolling away.

Check the pressure and condition of each tyre and make a note of these details.

It’s often recommended that taking the wheels off your classic car. Placing them flat on the floor, whilst putting the car on axle stands. However, this is can be unnecessary, potentially hazardous and certainly laborious for short lay up.If you’re worried about your tyres developing flat-spots while in storage you should either:

  • pump the tyres up to 50psi; this will avoid flat spotting (remembering to deflate when it’s time to drive away) or
  • roll the wheels and therefore the tyres every 30 days or so.

Step 8. Leave a window open slightly for internal air circulation.

Leave a small gap, enough to get your little finger through it, in the driver’s side window. This vent will allow air to get into the car thus avoiding any condensation build-up. Rot can sometimes occur due to excess moisture developing inside the car. Potentially ruining interior leather or other internal materials and finishes.

Step 9. Put a bung in the exhaust pipe(s) and cover air intakes, cover with a soft indoor classic car cover.

Depending on where you’re going to store your classic car, certainly over winter, you may want to consider putting some wire wool in a Jiffy bag and plugging that into the exhaust.As well as the exhaust pipe(s), also check for any other inviting access holes and cover them too so that nothing can crawl in and make a home for itself over the winter.

Step 10. Check your classic car every 30 days minimum.

Ideally (but not essential for shorter periods), you’ll go and check on the car monthly. During this check, you should:

  • Check the battery conditioner is happy.
  • Look over the car to ensure it is generally in good shape.
  • Check in the boot, under the bonnet and so on.
  • Check the tyres haven’t deflated.
Start the vehicle periodically, run it for 15-20 minutes or better still, take it for a quick drive until it’s up to temperature.

Remember to follow the rules in Step 11 should you decide to take the car out of storage.

Step 11. Leave a visible checklist of reminders.

Be sure to keep Step 11 in the forefront of your mind whilst preparing your classic car for winter storage.

IMPORTANT: Leave a short checklist of reminders on the drivers seat for when you come to take your classic car out of storage.

If there happens to be a nice sunny day, and you do decide to take the car out for a spin, give your car a good check through.

A number of our clients like a trip to the Sunday Scramble in Bicester .

Be sure you have unattached the battery conditioner. That you have deflated or inflated your tyres to regular running pressures. And you’ve removed any objects protecting exhausts pipes and air intakes.And lastly, before you drive off, you’ll want to check all your ancillary functions are working correctly:

  1. Ensure lights, headlights, fog lights, brake lights and indicators are all in working order.
  2. Let the car warm up gradually.
  3. Drive cautiously, test the brakes gradually and listen out for anything unusual.
  4. Take a phone with you and maybe start with a short 20-minute circular route.
  5. Make a note of anything you feel uncomfortable with and speak to your local garage.

A note about SORN

Finally, finally, if you made a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) for your vehicle prior to storage now is the time to un-SORN it. You should also check that your MOT and car tax are still current.

  • Taxing your car will cancel any SORN.
  • If you need an MOT, you can only drive the car if it’s to a garage for a pre-booked MOT.

Remember that, since the introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) in 2011, your classic car must remain insured while not being used unless you make a SORN. You can apply to make a SORN here.