Now we are at the end of the car show season it’s time to put my pride and joy away and tuck her up for the winter. This is more important than the hotter climates like the USA or Europe. The point is that when you pull the car back out again the car has been as protected as it possibly could have been. I have been asked a few times what my process is over the winter.
One of the most important things I do is to make sure the car is running on fumes. This is due to the fact that the ethanol fuels will ‘go off’ after a few months as it absorbs the moisture from the air. My car tends to run like a bag of nails when the car starts if it has fuel that has been standing. It seems that my carb settings and timings are sensitive to bad fuel, as a result I only use Shell V-Power premium fuel. It’s more expensive but the car does run so much better for it. I do have a five gallon jerry can that I fill up with fresh fuel when I need to move the car again for the first time in the new year.
The classic Mustangs have a lot of chrome and unless protected that chrome could start to pit, usually down to moisture and humidity. I have in my garage a dehumidifier and a radiator with an independent thermostat which keeps the chill away from the garage. The theory is that the car never goes below freezing. I have written an article about humidity and car storage here.
The thing to consider is the environment where the car is to be stored. A decent amount of dry air circulation around the car, and in an ideal situation not standing on a cold concrete floor as this will cause damp issues rising up to the car. I have laid some heavy plastic tiles which insulates the cold floor and the car which I also wrote about here.
First and most obvious is to wash the car, but make sure it’s thoroughly dry, especially if you don’t have a dehumidifier before you put the car away. Use a dedicated car blower if you can rather than a drying towel.
I then wax the car with a longevity wax rather than a show car wax. This will form a micro barrier to the elements, not that it should be needed in a climate controlled environment. It doesn’t matter what wax you use just something to protect it. I used Chemical Guys Quick Detailer P40 this year as the car had a wax a couple of weeks ago. So this was a top up more than anything as this product has a level of carnauba wax as well.
The big piece of work is the wheels. These wheels are chrome and need proper protection. I always clean them and apply a wheel wax during the car show season. But over the winter there is a little process I follow. I clean the tyres and the chrome as normal then I apply a squirt of Gibbs directly into the join of the wheel at the top and allow it run down to the bottom where it will puddle. WD40 or similar will do the same thing. You want enough to penetrate into the gap all the way round but not wate it so it runs out. Don’t wipe it away, just soak up the excess as it pools at the bottom. You won’t be able to get the wax right where you want it, so a penetrating product will get where you cant.
With the excess spray wiped away it was time to protect the chrome. I use Angel Wax Bilberry, it smells wonderful and gives great results. This wax is much softer than normal paint wax and is just like spreading a room temperature butter.
Ideally you will allow the product to cure and then buff it away. I apply it liberally but I don’t buff it completely away. This will leave a thicker barrier than you really need, but I just like a thick layer. This will make the chrome dull, but just make sure the wheel is fully coated.
The rubber tyres can be susceptible to cracking and I over apply an amount of Meguiar’s Endurance tyre gel. This product protects the tyres and keeps the rubber nourished. Applying this much will usually give rise sling as the car rotates. But as the car is now stationary it won’t be a problem. While you are at the wheels check the tyre pressure to make sure they are correct so they don’t deform.
If you have metal dust caps like I do, before putting them back on, squirt a tiny amount of WD40 or similar product that will make sure the cap doesn’t corrode metal to metal.
Glass is given a good clean, to make sure nothing is stuck and will be difficult to remove after a time of being laid up.
Where the rain or water car wash water can get into the car I make sure there is some water repellent applied. This is especially at the end of the rain drip rails that goes into the rear quarters. I squirted an amount onto the drip rails so it follows the same path as the water.
As the doors will be shut you don’t want the weather seal to stick and possibly tear when you go to open the door again. I use a Chemical Guys Tyre + Trim Gel which is dry to the touch almost straight away. I could have used this on the tyres obviously, but I prefer the Endurance.
It’s applied around the door frame and also to the rubbers under the door. Around the screen glass both front and rear there is a layer of black mastic, not how they came from the factory, but it seals the windows properly. The top right photo below shows an arrow where the before and after on the sealant.
The two images above is the trunk area where the before and after can be clearly seen as it’s applied. For the chrome trim and the wipers these are given a a layer of wax, again not buffed to a shine. Before shutting the car up, open the windows a little so that the car doesn’t sweat and go mouldy. Allowing a change of air will help prevent this as well. Having an open ventilation into the garage can have a minor advantage for fresh air, but it doesn’t allow for the dehumidifier to control the moisture in the garage environment.
The battery trickle charger CTEK MXs 5.0 is connected as I always do when the car is in the garage.
I removed the screen washer bottle and rinsed it out and hung it up to allow it to dry. Previously I have left water in the bag and it had gone bad and stank with things trying to grow in it. I had a bit of a job to get it clean again, I won’t be making that mistake again.
Inside the car is a quick vacuum out. I tend to keep a couple of old air fresheners for the winter, give them a quick spritz them with Mitchell & King Leather scent. I hang the air fresheners back in the car being sure to make sure they are free hanging and not touching anything. Inside the car I tend not to pull the parking brake on as this may seize in place. If you’re worried about the theft you could use a T Park Handle lock here for a bit more peace of mind.
Finally the car cover goes on and the humidity gauge goes on top of the car in the middle to get the average reading of the garage. the sweet spot is 50%, with a couple of percent either side.
Last thing is to turn the dehumidifier on which I have already got set up from the previous years which sits around the fifty percent mark all year round now. On the back of the unit there is a filter which is removed, cleaned and replaced. It doesn’t hurt to squirt a little air freshener towards the back of the unit in order to give it a little freshen up.
I do have a little tip regarding the dehumidifier, hang an air freshener near the unit, this will fill the garage with your scent of choice. The downside is that the freshener tends to get dried out fairly quickly due to the functionality of the dehumidifier.
With the car now laid up for the winter I still tend to open the garage up in the nicer weather once or twice a month to let some fresh air in and make sure there are no leaks and that the dehumidifier and the the battery trickle charger are still working ok.
When the new season starts I have to remove all the waxes, and the over application of trim on the paint. this isn’t much of an issue as I give the car a service, grease, check the brakes, full valet and good once over before the first show anyway.
I hope that helps a little and gives you some tips to store the car short term.