Storing your classic car for long term protection
As a classic car owner, you probably want to drive your pride and joy at every given opportunity- after all, what could be better than taking to the roads to enjoy your car at its best? But not all of us have the luxury of hitting the road year-round- UK conditions aren’t always ideal for your classic car, which fares better being driven in warm, dry conditions. However, you don’t just need to live in the UK to be stopped from driving your car as often as you’d like: busy lifestyles, as well as unforeseen factors, such as travel restrictions imposed by Covid, could mean that your car requires storing for longer than you first thought.
However, you don’t just need to live in the UK to be stopped from driving your car as often as you’d like: busy lifestyles, as well as unforeseen factors, such as travel restrictions imposed by Covid, could mean that your car requires storing for longer than you first thought.
So why is storing your car correctly so important? A classic car can be a big investment, and so protecting that investment, while maintaining and increasing its value, is key to enjoying your car for years to come. If it’s left to the elements, your car will be at risk of humidity damage, as well as other issues including:
- Mould growth
- Cracked leather interiors
- Paint degradation from UV damage
If you want to avoid all of these issues impacting your classic car during the months it’s sitting unused, you’ll need to ensure you’ve prepped your car and its storage space correctly.
How to prep your car for long term storage
Before storing your classic car long term, you need to ensure it’s prepared so that it stays in tip-top condition during its time in storage.
Preparing the engine
An original classic car engine is irreplaceable, so it’s important to not cut any corners as you get it ready for storage. It’s a straightforward task: if it’s being stored for an extended period of time (more than 12 months), the fuel tank may need emptying completely.
If you’re storing your car for a shorter period, ensure the fuel tank is full. This prevents a buildup of condensation, rust, and resultant contaminated fuel in the tank. To keep the fuel stable, make sure you add additives. This will keep your engine ticking over and will avoid internal damage to the engine.
Preparing the body
The last thing you want is to place your car in storage, only to take it out months later and something left on it compromised the paintwork.
By thoroughly washing, waxing and polishing your car before storing it, you will remove dirt, including potentially acidic dead insects and bird droppings, preventing corrosion and paint damage. If your storage is appropriate, you should be able to leave your car without a car cover.
Preparing the interior
The same goes for the interior: it will need a thorough clean before storage. If you have a leather interior, ensure that you also apply a specialist leather cleaning agent and leather conditioner.
The biggest risk with your interior is that it will become damp during storage, leading to mould. However, like with the last point, if your storage is appropriate, you will not need to invest in products intended specifically to keep the interior dry such as car dehumidifier bags.
Preparing your classic car tyres
Depending on the model of your classic car, tyres can be expensive, and so prolonging the life of your classic car tyres is important for enjoying your car at its best while keeping your total investment down.
We recommend removing the weight from the tyres when you’re storing your car long-term, as leaving the tyres there with the pressure of the vehicle on top will degrade their quality. Consider raising your car off the ground to remove the weight from the wheels. The other alternative, if you have regular access to your car, is to place the car into neutral and roll a few metres up and down the drive twice a month.⠀
What are the ideal conditions for long term classic car storage?
Even if your car is fully prepped for storage, none of your hard work will count if your storage container doesn’t maintain and regulate the optimum conditions to protect your pride and joy. Because the biggest environmental threat to your stored car is humidity, that’s where your efforts should be focused.
In the UK, we have one of the highest global averages for relative humidity. This is the measurement of how much water the air is holding in relation to its capacity to hold that water (which is dedicated by surrounding temperature). In the UK, the average RH sits at around 80%, a level at which mould can grow, iron and steel can rust and the ageing process of rubber speeds up- which is all very bad news for your classic car, if left uncontrolled.
As a result, the ideal RH to store your classic car in will usually sit between 40-50% RH. By keeping the humidity above 40% RH, leather interiors will also be protected from dehydration and cracking.
Does the material of your garage make a difference?
Generally, wooden and brick garages are better for managing humidity than other paid-for storage options like pre-cast concrete units, as these are known to cause vehicles to ‘sweat’, and in turn, causing corrosion. However, if you have the right solution that deals with the problem at its core, it will not matter whether your garage is wooden, brick or concrete.
Maintaining the right humidity levels for long term classic car storage
If you want to effectively regulate the RH of your classic car’s storage unit, you’ll need to employ some form of dehumidification. There are lots of different types of dehumidifiers available on the market, but there’s non better for long-term classic car storage than the desiccant dehumidifier, which uses hydroscopic substances to remove and re-introduce moisture into the surrounding air, keeping your environment optimum for safely storing your vehicle.
Of course, you’ll only want the best for your classic car, and so opting for a bespoke design that meets all the requirements of your garage and car is the best option if you take your car care seriously. If this is the route you choose, ensure you take the time to speak to the specialists with experience protecting classic cars before making your final decision.
With the extensive list of problems caused by inappropriate humidity levels, perhaps storing your classic car long-term is not as straightforward as you first thought. However, with the right preparation, expert advice and bespoke solution in the form of a classic car garage dehumidifier, it’s a problem that you’ll only need to address once, before resting assured in the knowledge that your car is in the safest hands.