When the chill of winter descends, a sigh is heard across the land… and it emanates from all the classic car owners who now face a difficult choice: Should I put my beloved collector car away for the winter or take on the additional risk of motoring through the ice and snow?
Unless you live in BC’s temperate climes, it’s quite likely that you face this dilemma every November. While (of course) it’s technically possible to brace the low temperatures, dark skies, heavy snow, and slick street, most collector car owners try to avoid the roads altogether during this time of hear.
Winter driving poses a number of unique threats to classic cars. Here’s why it’s better to tuck your collector away for the season, rather than take the risk.
Road Salt: Corrosion and Rust
Look, we’re grateful for road salt and the crews that work hard to spread it, making our roads safer for winter driving. But this safety measure is simply bad news for cars.
Road salt works by lowering the freezing point of water, essentially melting ice that coats the roadways. This allows tires to connect with the road, rather than sliding across the top of an icy sheet.
While this is great news for winter driving safety, it’s bad news for car owners who care about their vehicle. Why? Because salt is corrosive and accelerates every car owner’s nightmare: rust. Repeated exposure exacerbates the problem, leading to more rust and more damage.
Worst of all, salt tends to get kicked up into the undercarriage, where it’s not easy to see. Add water from wet roads in to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for problems that may include damage to subframes, coil springs, exhaust systems, mufflers, and even hydraulic brake leaks.
If you must drive through salt, prevent damage by:
- Rinsing after driving, paying special attention to the undercarriage
- Parking in a heated garage
- Using fans to dry the undercarriage quickly
- Applying rust-preventative paint to the undercarriage each year
- Waxing every other month
- Ensuring all fittings and seals are tight
You’ve spent so much time, money and effort working on your car. Don’t risk it all with road salt exposure.
It’s no secret: Moisture and classic cars just don’t mix. If the area where you live experiences ice and snow, that means you’ve got to take steps to prevent moisture damage. Too much can corrode your metalwork, rust out components, cause vinyl to crack, harm leather, destroy your electronics, and more.
Some of the same steps that fight road salt damage will help prevent moisture problems, like storing your car in a heated garage, using fans to speed drying, and checking that seals are tight.
To prevent further moisture damage, you can:
- Invest in a dehumidifier or moisture absorber and empty it frequently
- Regularly examine your car’s interior and exterior for dampness
- Never leave wet items or trash inside your car, as they can lead to interior condensation
- Make sure drain holes on sunroof or windscreen panels are free and clear
- If you have air conditioning, run it in winter as it acts as a dehumidifier
The best choice, though, is to leave your car safely stored over the wet winter months.
And speaking of storage, doing it right reduces the risks winter poses to your collector car. We’re not simply talking about the rust, corrosion and moisture… we’re also taking the increased risk of collision that comes along with leaving it parked somewhere unsecured.
These winter storage tips can help:
- Park in a heated garage
- Wash and wax your car before parking it for the winter
- Change all fluids and add fuel stabilizer
- Use a dehumidifier, silica packs or boxes of baking soda to absorb excess moisture and prevent condensation
- If you do take the car out for a drive, immediately wash and dry it thoroughly before re-parking
When it comes to winter driving and collector cars, one thing is for certain: Patience is a virtue. Though you’ll definitely miss driving your car for a few months, winter road conditions simply pose too great of a risk.
From the increased possibility of fender bends to the damage caused by road salt and excess moisture, it just makes more sense to safely store your car through the winter months.