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