As any classic car enthusiastic knows, winter is not the best time to keep taking your beloved vehicle out for a spin. With all the extra mud, salt and water on the road, the best option to keep your car looking its best is to keep it safely stored in the garage. So, if you’re not spending your time driving your car, now is the perfect time to be giving it the due care and attention it deserves before summer comes around. If you are driving your car, it’s all the more important to give it the care and maintenance it needs to ensure it continues to look its best! It’s also worth noting that even if your car isn’t a classic, it might be one day with proper maintenance, so the advice we’re discussing can be utilised by all motorists with a desire to keep their wheels looking good!
Improper storage is the most common cause for classic cars to deteriorate over the winter months, often they end up being more damaged than if they had been driven all through the damp season. To avoid any costly repair bills this spring we have created a handy guide to make sure you properly protect the exterior and interior of your car this winter.
If you have not read the first part of this guide, then check out how you can look after everything under the bonnet of your classic car here.
Exterior Care and Valeting
Clean your Paintwork Thoroughly
The first thing you will want to do before you store your car for the winter is to give it a thorough clean using a good quality car shampoo. This is to make sure that any ingrained dirt and traffic film gets removed and to avoid getting any dreaded streaks on your paintwork.
For any marks, insects or stubborn tar that you find on your bodywork, headlights and registration plates you can always look to use a specialist remover spray.
Finish washing your car with a wax polish as an extra special treat before you tuck it away for the winter. It is well worth the hard work but make sure you choose a wax that is easy to apply and wipes off easily to make the job painless.
Take Care of your Wheels
Don’t forget to clean wheels if they are alloy or steel. If your wheels need a bit more attention then you may want to consider using a specialist wheel cleaner to remove brake dust, rust and road grime safely.
If you are thinking about taking your car out for a spin over the winter, don’t forget that road salt can ruin any type of alloy. So, you can either swap your best wheels for another set, or you can invest in a good wheel sealant to protect your alloys. These form a protective barrier on wheels, keeping them cleaner for longer and easier to clean in the future.
Make sure you thoroughly jet wash your car afterwards and remember to clean the underside of the car. You may want to consider using an underbody seal as these also have rust inhibitors that help to displace moisture and seal the underbody of your vehicle from further corrosion.
The final thing to do before you do any other maintenance on your car is to ensure that it is completely dry. Any excess water could get trapped and lead to other problems like mould and rust, so take the extra time to make sure it is left to air dry, before putting it into storage.
Look after Your Chrome
The chrome of your car should be fine as long as where it is stored is dry. However, wintery conditions can still lead chrome to become pitted with rust due to condensation. Some car owners swear by using a petroleum jelly on any chrome to protect it, removing then re-applying new coats throughout the winter months. Once your car is ready for the road again in the spring, we would recommend using a liquid chrome cleaner to clean and protect it.
Stone Chip Shields
If you are planning to take your car out over the winter, it is worth applying a stone chip protector to your sills, spoilers and lower body panels. This will protect any existing stone chip damage you may have already suffered, while protecting your vehicle from further salt, damp and rust damage.
The four-letter word that can strike fear into the heart of a classic car enthusiast.
If you have any existing rust that you need to remove, you will want to consider a rust remover. These are perfect if you have a small patch of rust that needs treating as they convert rust to a sound surface in 15 minutes.
To rust proof your vehicle while it’s in storage you will want to consider applying a rust proofing solution. This destroys any old rust and prevent any new rust from developing by forming a flexible skin over the area you treat. You can apply this to the inside of doors, panels, box sections and behind the sills and chassis of your vehicle.
Touching up Your Paintwork
As your car is clean and ready for storage, it is the ideal time to paint or re-touch any areas that need your attention.
If you have any areas of your vehicle that have rust or are prone to rust, we would recommend using a colour match paint. Before applying any touch-up paint, it’s a good idea to ensure the surface is prepared and ready for painting, this can be achieved by stripping the affected paint away using sanding pads. You’ll need to use a durable primer before painting, consider the range of primers available from Autotek, the selection includes high build primers (ATOHBPG500) for thicker coats and spray on primer for plastics (AT00PPG500).
You’ll want to leave the primed area to dry for at least 24 hours, before painting with your colour-matched paint. It may require a few coats depending on the extent of the damage. Once you’re happy with the paint repair, the affected area will need sealing and protecting with a protective lacquer such as Autotek’s Clear Lacquer. (AT00LAW500)
No matter how careful you are, it is likely that your beloved classic has a few scratches here and there. While your car is clean and you have time to do so, look for a good scratch remover to repair these. A paste may suffice for smaller and lighter scratches and dents, but if the scratch is deeper, you may want to consider using a putty as a more heavy-duty body filler.
Upholstery & Interior
Clean your Upholstery
Any upholstery that has stood the test of time needs more care and attention to keep it in tip-top condition. So look for a good quality fabric cleaner to remove any dirt, grime and grease that could have built up over the year. A foaming cleaner is a good option as it prevents the fabric from getting too wet – something you should be mindful of to keep damp at bay.
Protect a Leather Interior
If your interior is leather, you will need to consider thoroughly cleaning and conditioning interior of your vehicle before it goes away into storage. Protecting leather interiors is very important, as the cost of having to replace this in a vintage car is vast.
Protect your Rubbers and Plastics
The rubber and plastic around the doors and windows of your vehicle needs attention over the winter to make sure mould does not form. As you may be aware, the rubber and plastic in your car is vulnerable to cracking and you should use a silicone-based lubricant to keep them supple and protected. Used correctly, any kind of rubber protectant will stop seals sticking to your body panels and will waterproof them to ensure they remain problem free.