Winterize Your Car
The following are some tips to help you winterize you classic so
it will be ready for that spring tour.....
EXTERIOR: See to scratches, rust spots, chrome
plating, brass and or nickel. Look at the paint in general, on the body,
fenders and wheels. Winter is a good time to make repairs.
TIRES: Check for proper inflation and unusual wear
patterns, as well an cuts and tears.
GLASS: Look for cracking or scratches and poor
weather stripping. It's a good time to wash it thoroughly
TOP: Check the convertible top material, soft top,
snaps, fastenings and bindings. Leave the top in the up position to prevent wrinkling
of the top fabric.
INTERIOR: Clean it thoroughly. Get out those cookie
crumbs, potato chips and just plain dust and dirt. Use a vacuum cleaner. If you
use compressed air, go easy, you donít want to blow a hole in something. Donít forget
about mice and other animals like moths or ants who may have made a home in your
car. Look everything over carefully. If the bottom seat cushions are removable,
I suggest you clean under them at this time. Check door panels, window regulator
handles, dashboard (are all the instruments working?), steering wheel, controls,
choke, spark, throttle, floor mats, etc. Be sure to check interior fabric
or leather and clean or condition it as needed.
Critters: Depending on your storage area, you may
need to protect against moths, mice, rats and sometimes other creatures who decide
your car will make a nice cozy place to spend the winter.
BODY EXTERIOR AND CHASSIS: Clean and polish the
body, chrome, brass and/or nickel. Remove the dead bugs and other residue like mud
and tar globs. Grease all the fittings just to be sure they will accept grease.
Donít forget to do the springs that have gaiters or other covers. Lubricate brake
linkages, cross shafts, cables, clevis pins, and while your there, check cotter
pins to see if theyíre still in place. It might be a good idea to check the
brake linings and adjustments for both the foot and parking brake systems. If you
find you have a problem now, you have all winter to fix it.
If your car is young enough to have hydraulic brakes, check for
leaks, check for fluid level in the master cylinder as well as inspect the flex
lines and wheel cylinders. Since brake fluid absorbs water, this might be a good
time to consider flushing the system and replacing the fluid. The brake cylinders
that donít rust over the winter are the ones that will work well in the spring.
While youíre under your car, this is a good time to check your transmission
and differential for proper lubricant levels as well as for signs of leaking. While
youíre looking, check the drive shaft and universal joints, as well as the tie rod
ends and steering gear box. Be sure to check for free play in your steering system
in general. See if you have any crankcase or valve cover leaks or any other oil
leaks around the engine.
Engine: This is a good time to warm up the engine
and change the oil. Stay with the same make of oil you've been using but, depending
on your location and any anticipated winter use, you may want to change grade. Check
the engine wiring, starter cables, spark plug wires and any other wires found in
the engine compartment or under the dash. Look for loose of frayed wires and do
something about them before you have an electrical fire.
This is also a good time to pull the spark plugs and do a compression
test. If you do this, leave the ignition switch off as you turn over the engine.
If you must switch on the ignition to activate the starter, be sure to remove and
ground the spark coil lead to prevent the engine from trying to start. It helps
to have two people to perform a compression test, one to hold the throttle wide
open and activate the starter, and another to record the reading. Crank the
engine over three times for each cylinder you're checking and read the pressure
on each cylinder. Generally speaking, each cylinder should be within about
ten pounds of each other. If you have one with unusually low compression,
you'll know that's where your problems lie.
While you have the spark plugs out, this is a perfect opportunity
to inspect them, and replace them if necessary. Donít forget the points and condenser
BATTERY: Make sure that itís clean. You can wash
it with a solution of baking soda and water and then rinse it off and dry it. Top
off the fluid level with distilled water. Never add more acid to any battery.
Batteries can discharge due to moisture and dust across the top
between the terminals. Clean the terminals and posts, replace and tighten them,
then coat them lightly with Vaseline. Donít coat the posts or the terminals before
you re-assemble them, as that can cause a poor connection which will result in a
voltage drop which causes poor starting and erratic charging.
If you use a battery trickle charger, be careful as some types will
over charge your battery and boil it dry. Be sure to check the fluid level while
you are charging. If you use a regular low rate charger, once a month charging is
usually adequate. The battery should be stored in a cool place. A fully charged
battery will not freeze 80 degrees below zero, but a battery stored at 80 degrees
will lose one percent of its charge every day.
Radiator: Be sure to test your anti-freeze concentration.
Itís a good idea to use some antifreeze, even in warm climates. Most manufacturers
recommend a 50/50 mix with water. (Distilled is a better choice than tap water,
since it wonít leave any mineral deposits behind). If itís time to change antifreeze,
itís a good idea to flush the cooling system before you add the new solution. Youíll
be amazed how much crud can come out of your engine and radiator. At this time,
it will never be easier to check and replace any hoses and clamps. You might even
want to take the opportunity to replace those auto parts store clamps with some
CCCA approved clamps that are similar to original equipment on your car. Be sure
to check your fan belt(s). If your water pump has a grease fitting, grease it with
water pump grease, not regular chassis lube. Use a hand gun to keep the pressure
low. You donít want to blow out your seals!. While youíre under the hood, check
the latches, hinges and hood laces. Clean all the bugs and other stuff from your
FUEL SYSTEM: Be sure to use some form of stabilizer
and preferably drain the vacuum tank (if you have one) and run the carburetor dry
if youíre going to leave the car in storage for any length of time with out running
the engine. With todayís fuels, a gas shut off valve at the tank is a very handy
device to have. Whenever you are going to leave your car in storage, just shut off
the gas supply and let the engine run until the gas lines and carburetor run out
of fuel. This stuff canít eat out hard to get rubber parts if it isnít there.
With all these things taken care of, you should rest easily and
be ready to enjoy your Classic Car next spring.