Storing and Protecting Car

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    I’ve read numerous articles on the intenet about storing a classic car, but there seems to be several conflicting opinions.  I have a 49 Merc Convertible that just underwent a frame-off restoration.  My only current option for storing is in my attached, unheated, garage.  There are a couple of shows I plan to enter this winter so don’t want to drain any of the fluids or put it in permanent winter storage.  How often should I start the car?  Will driving it 10-15 miles per week do any damage?  Does raising and lowering the top and windows help or hurt?  It has hydrolic pumps on both.  Any suggestions for preserving the paint and chrome?  THANKS!



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    <p class=”MsoNormal”>I’m not an expert, but have some experience with your

    situation.  I have always stored my cars in an unheated garage and have

    never drained the fluids before storage.  On my convertibles, I always

    relieve the tension on the top by popping the locks.  If you store the top

    down, and the rear window folds, place a rolled up bath towel in the fold to

    prevent a crease from forming in the plastic.  I always change the oil and

    filter before storage.  I always check the anti-freeze for adequate

    protection before storage.  I never use fuel additives, as I start and/or

    drive my cars whenever possible in winter.  The key to starting or driving

    is to ensure you run the motor long enough to dissipate condensation in the

    block.  I always disconnect the battery before storage, but don’t use a trickle

    charger, I prefer to charge the battery as required just before starting. 

    I use a good quality indoor car cover to protect the paint.  That’s my

    winter routine!


    I have never had a frame off restoration.  In fact, if I drive my car down a tar and chip road and get a little tar on it, then wash it off, it does not detract from the value of my car.  I do open the door, expect the dog and kids to get in, and we do go places.  My storage ranges from a garage heated by virture of the fact that I insulated the garage well, but did not insulate the wall between the house and the garage except for the 3/4 inche styrofoam sheating, to a dirt floor unheated barn.  I always run antifreeze, even in the summer.  It provides rust protection and water pump lube.  It is also convenient not to worry about failing to add antifreeze for cold weather.  Relieving stress on the top is a neat idea, except that when you clamp the top back, after shrinking all winter, it may just tear.  If you happen to let it sit in the sun before you clamp it back the first time, that will soften it a bit.  Putting it fully down all winter and letting it sit for extended periods of time folded, will not be good for the top material or the window.  Keep it stretched tight.  I have heard about jacking the car up to relieve pressure on the tires.  Back when we had nylon cord tires, you got flat spots when they were cold.  Of course, you got flat spots when they were cold when it was 90 degrees, too.

        I think that if you really want to protect your car, a bag with the desecant in it is the best idea.  They sell them all over the hobby press.  Starting it up and letting it run for 15 minutes is guarranteed short exhaust system life.  If you can’t drive it 10 or 15 miles, don’t start it at all. 



    Both my ’53 and ’55 are stored in an insulated but unheated garage here in southern Nebraska.  Right now it is 15 degrees outside and the garage is probably right around 32.  To store these beasts for the winter I only change the oil and filter after a very good warmup sometime in October and then change it again in April.  The cars are always run after the oil change for a few miles (around 20) just to give the fresh oil a chance to circulate.  I don’t touch the other fluids but do change the coolant about every three years.  I do fill the tank and add “Stabil” to the gas before I put them away.  Both are also attached to Battery tenders.  The eight volt battery in the ’55 is at least 6 years old and still working great.  I attribute that to the the battery tender. I do use an 8 volt battery tender (yes, they do make them but you have to ask). 

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