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Mothballing a classic car the right way


Since many classic cars go into hibernation, unlike the more modern everyday cars, we describe here step by step what you should look out for when "mothballing".

Winter quarters

The optimal winter quarters are dry, well ventilated and have a constant room temperature. You can improve the climate in your garage with electric dehumidifiers or set up simple granulate dehumidifiers.

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After a season on the road, your classic car will be happy to receive a thorough wash and paint care, as well as care for the rubber parts, chrome parts and interior. Chrome parts can also be thinly coated with technical Vaseline (resin and acid-free) to protect against rust.

Now is also the right time to lubricate the door hinges and treat any stone chips.

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Warm-up and dry run

It should not remain with the short round to the car wash and petrol station. If you warm up the engine again on a longer stretch before turning it off, you prevent condensation from standing in the exhaust system over the winter. In addition, residual washing water can escape from all the cracks.

Fill it up

Our classics with steel tanks should be filled up before hibernation, otherwise condensation - and eventually rust - can form in the tank. Petrol stabiliser additives are a useful supplement.
A tip from my own experience with modern fuel types is to fill up petrol engines with high-quality 102-octane fuel. This should be done a few kilometres before parking so that the fuel can also reach the float chambers. Such fuel types are much more stable in the long term and do not lead to unwanted corrosion or sticking in carburettors or petrol pumps. The tank does not suffer either, as water separation cannot occur with 102 octane thanks to the lack of biofuel content.
The starting behaviour in spring is considerably better.

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It is best to disconnect the battery. Use a trickle charger or recharge the battery with a normal charger every 2-3 months.

For non-maintenance batteries, check the fluid level and top up with distilled water if necessary. Never top up with battery acid.

Attention when working on the battery: Please observe the general safety regulations, e.g. wear protective goggles, avoid naked flames and sparks - please also do not smoke, risk of explosion!

Battery main switch
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Engine oil from the driving season may contain corrosion-promoting components. It is best to change the engine oil before decommissioning. Further preservation measures on the engine are only necessary if the vehicle is decommissioned for several years.

Check the radiator antifreeze! It also acts as corrosion protection in the engine and lubricates the water pump. The special requirements of your vehicle must be taken into account here. The radiator antifreeze should be changed every 4 years, as the corrosion protection effect wears off over time.

Antifreeze in the wiper water tank ensures that no unwanted damage occurs when the vehicle is stored in cold conditions. In the worst case scenario, the wiper fluid tank could burst and the leaking water could damage other parts.

Cooler antifreeze
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Increase tyre pressure or jack up vehicle

To avoid flat tyres, the tyre pressure should be increased to approx. 2.5 - 3.5 bar. Observe the maximum permissible pressure for your tyres; on modern tyres this is written on the tyre sidewall. Sie können das Auto auch aufbocken, um das Fahrwerk zusätzlich zu entlasten.

Tyre pressure gauge
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The final touch

Now it's time to say goodbye. Raise the windscreen wipers, roll down the windows a crack and cover the car with an air-permeable blanket.

In addition, you can still close the air filter inlet and the exhaust tailpipe with an oil-soaked rag.

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Out of sight out of mind?

Now is the time to carry out any maintenance, repairs or planned conversions that are due. If the car is not jacked up, it should be pushed back and forth from time to time to further reduce the risk of stalls.

If the engine still has felt seals (e.g. crankshaft), it is advisable to turn the engine by hand from time to time so that the felt seals are supplied with oil and do not dry out.

It is also worthwhile to have a look at the brake lines. Remove any dirt and preserve them, for example with fluid film, multi-wax or rope grease. If corrosion has occurred, remove it thoroughly and prime with Brunox.

On some youngtimers, it is advisable to remove the wheel arch shells once and remove any dirt behind them. After cleaning, it is advisable to seal the cavities, as rust is sometimes hidden there.

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Once your pet is well out of hibernation and the first warm rays of spring sunshine are peeking through the branches, you can refer to our checklist for getting fit in spring" - see the link below.

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