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winterizing collector car

Your Guide to Winter Vehicle Storage

Kevin Hackney

We know winters aren’t easy. Months of biting cold and heavy snow are tough on drivers and even worse on collector cars. So when the chill hits the air, we’re betting many of you start mentally preparing your ride for a long winter’s nap.

First-timers and cold-weather newbies, this one’s for you. Following these winter vehicle storage guidelines from our partners at Hagerty will help you keep your collector car in ship-shape through the winter and well prepared for next year’s driving season.

Follow this link for a fast and easy collector car policy quote with Guaranteed Value® protection. And remember, collector car coverage through our partnership with Hagerty keeps your pride and joy protected all year ‘round, even in seasonal storage.

Now grab your keys and let’s start some winter prep.

Preparing Your Collector Car for Storage

storing collector car

We’d be lucky if pulling the parking brake and walking away is all it takes to winterize your vehicle. In reality, preparing the car for storage is nearly as important as the storage itself. Follow this routine to have your special ride ready for hibernation:

  • Find your ideal spot: This is preferably a dark and dry place with limited foot traffic. You’ll want to keep moisture away, so parking on concrete beats dirt floors every day of the week. If you’re storing on dirt, however, lay a plastic tarp or drop cloth beneath the car. And if you’re near a Hagerty Garage + Social, consider taking advantage of this safe and secure storage location.
  • Change the oil & antifreeze: Changing your oil immediately before storage is the best way to lessen the chance of engine contamination at rest. And without proper freeze protection, you could be facing significant engine block damage come Spring. A good rule of thumb is to perform a full coolant flush-and-replace at the conclusion of every driving season.
  • Gas up your tank: Grab some fuel stabilizer and add it to a full tank of gas. Fill ‘er up to make sure there’s no room for air — which can lead to moisture, fuel contamination and tank rust. Be sure to run the engine so the mixture hits the engine’s carburetor, injectors, and fuel rails.
  • Wash, wax, and cover: Like brushing your teeth before bed, you’ll want to give your special ride a wash and wax before storing. Once dry, you’re safe to apply a vehicle cover without fear of scratches.

All set? Now’s the ideal time to get a quote or to compare your current policy coverage to protection through Hagerty.

OK, let’s finish the job.

Five Steps to Storing Your Collector Car

preparing collector car

Once your prep is done, it’s time to complete your vehicle storage routine. These five steps should keep your car in great shape through those long winter months:

  1. Close all windows and remove all personal items: Grab all your cruise essentials, especially anything that might freeze and explode under extremely low temperatures. Water bottles and coffee mugs, we’re looking at you.
  2. Address moisture control: Grab some baking soda packages like you’d store in your refrigerator and place throughout the vehicle. One in the interior and one in the trunk should do the trick.
  3. Block bugs and other critters: Find a way to keep the insects from invading your special ride. Draping a plastic bag over the exhaust pipe(s) and air inlet/cleaner typically works. Covering the bag with aluminum foil and securing with tape or rubber bands adds extra protection. You can also consider adding mothballs or steel wool to the tailpipe.
  4. Jack it up: Storing the vehicle on jack stands will keep flat spots from forming in your tires. This also helps keep your suspension in good shape during hibernation since the car isn’t supporting its full weight. If you prefer to stay jack-free, overinflating your tires by 2-5 pounds will help offset flats.
  5. Give your battery some love: Couple options here. Carefully unhook and store your battery separately. Or, leave it in the car with a battery tender (aka trickle charger) attached. If you choose to remove the battery, make sure it’s stored someplace safe from freezing temperatures (and never on a concrete floor).

After your car is tucked in, should you start it occasionally throughout winter? It’s really up to you. If you decide to fire it up, make sure your location is well-vented and remember to clear those exhaust pipes. Running the engine for at least 10 good minutes will fry any water vapor that forms after a cold start. 

And who knows? You might be inspired to hit the road if you catch a sunny midwinter day. In fact, we encourage it. Collector vehicle policies through Hagerty allow you the freedom to take road trips when the mood strikes.

Maintain Your Insurance for a Worry-Free Winter

Rest assured, coverage through Hagerty protects your special vehicle for a full calendar year. Winter vehicle storage coverage is baked into the annual premium. And remember, if you store your vehicle anywhere other than home, you may need to report your storage address.

Request a policy quote today and we’ll have you taken care of before the first flakes hit the pavement.

The Hartford’s partnership with Hagerty not only brings best-in-class collector car insurance, but also the opportunity to join Hagerty Drivers Club® — the ultimate membership community for car lovers. Members enjoy benefits ranging from roadside assistance to car supply discounts from Evans coolant products, California Car Cover Co., Griot’s Garage, Coker Tire and Eastwood, and more.

Make sure to pick up a Hagerty Drivers Club membership and redeem your full benefits and discounts.

How do you prepare your collector car for winter storage? Share your tips in the comments.

Hagerty, Guaranteed Value & Hagerty Drivers Club are registered trademarks of The Hagerty Group, LLC. © 2022 The Hagerty Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. The Hagerty Group, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hagerty, Inc. Membership services are provided by Hagerty Drivers Club (HDC). Purchase of insurance not required for membership in HDC. Insurance services are provided by Hagerty Insurance Agency, LLC in the US and Hagerty Canada, LLC in Canada. Some coverage not available in all states/provinces.

Membership by Hagerty Drivers Club (HDC), a non-insurance subsidiary of The Hagerty Group, LLC.  Roadside services provided by/thru Cross Country Motor Club except in AK, CA, HI, OR, WI & WY where services are provided by Cross Country Motor Club of California, Inc. For additional information and a complete description of benefits, visit hagerty.com/corporate/legal. Purchase of insurance not required for membership in HDC. 

2 Responses to "Your Guide to Winter Vehicle Storage"
    • philip f spinella | October 27, 2022 at 2:29 pm

      Is ny a state which allows suspension of coverage??? One of my cars will be unused at home from jan 1 thru april 30.

      • Extra Mile Staff | October 28, 2022 at 7:38 am

        Hi Philip – Please give one of our customer service representatives a call at 800-423-6789 and they would be happy to assist you further and answer any questions. For more information in general on suspending auto coverage, you can visit this link.

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