Inactivity for an automobile is often as destructive as it is for a human. Damage can occur as the vehicle just sits. Rubber rots, upholstery mildews, metal rusts and engine parts seize. The following steps can help to ensure the vehicle is quickly ready to be back on the road for the next spring with a minimal amount of deterioration.
Begin by detailing the classic auto. Wash away road grime and coat with wax. Do not buff chrome until it is time to remove the vehicle from storage. Vacuum and clean upholstery to ensure there are no crumbs to draw critters. Lubricate any rubber parts for preservation.
Once parked in the garage for the winter, change or drain all fluids. Try to drain oil while it is still warm to remove emulsified chemicals. Wear gloves to prevent burns.
Fill universal joints with fresh grease. Pack the wheel bearings. Grease all the fittings on the suspension and steering. Bleed the brakes and empty the fuel tank. Start the engine and allow any remaining fuel to burn out of the lines.
The cooling system should be drained and left empty with the cap off and petcock open. Remove heater hoses and allow the heater to drain. Dispose of waste fluids properly.
The battery and tires should be removed and stored properly. Batteries should be stored on a shelf and not concrete. Tires should be stacked on the side with cardboard between them.
On vehicles with manual transmissions, the clutch plates often stick during storage. This can be prevented by depressing the clutch and locking it in position using a piece of 2×4 cut to fit between the pedal and seat frame. If it is open, it cannot stick.
All windows should be rolled down to allow air to circulate. Open baking soda boxes should be left in several places in the vehicle to absorb smells and excess moisture. A plastic bag over the carburetor can prevent moisture from condensing inside. An old rag stuffed inside the tailpipe ensures the exhaust does not become a nest for vermin.
The final step is to cover the classic auto. Choose the right type of fabric for storing the vehicle. The material needs to be soft and easy on the wax and paint. Cotton flannel car covers are one of the favorites of many car collectors. Avoid plastic film for this purpose as they do not breathe.