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How to winterproof your classic car

How to winterproof your classic car Classic and Performance Car

It's easier to leave it in the garage over winter, but there are safe ways to enjoy your classic car through winter. Here are a few tips

There are myriad reasons to tuck your classic away in winter – such as salt, and the gentle fizzing of expensively corroding metal – but were these cars really so winter-inept when new? Well yes, they were, but there are still things you can do to protect your classic if you want to drive it all-year-round. 

First, corrosion. Protect not only the underside, but also the insides of box sections and double-skinned areas. Old, flaking underbody seal traps moisture, so scrape it off and paint the steel with a tough corrosion-proofing paint (POR15 is very good in our experience), and apply a strong wax-based coating. The box sections need an internal wax spray. The best way to do this is to entrust your car to a specialist familiar with rustproofing classics. You should also smear grease over the brightwork.

Now, water leaks, one of the most pernicious eroders of classic-car love. Trace them by crawling around inside the car while a companion sprays a hose over it. Then reseal fixed glass, replace seals, grommets and doortrim membranes as necessary, and reduce the misting-up tendency at a stroke.

Heat next. If the heater is poor, and there’s a low reading on the temperature gauge, replace the thermostat. If the reading is normal, then the heater matrix needs a good flush with descaler, or replacement. Poor starting and misfires caused by condensation can be cured with new, snugly fitting ignition leads. Also consider electronic ignition and a vigorously charging alternator.

Tyres should have plenty of tread and be new enough to have decent grip in the wet, and the cooling system should contain recent antifreeze – a solution of 40 to 50% is usual. Check the wipers and washers do a good job, too.

Final tip: try not to let your garden hose freeze up. You’ll need it to wash off the salt as often as you can, especially under the wheelarches. Happy slithering.

Words: John Simister

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