How to put your car into winter hibernation

The winter months can prove a difficult time for certain types of cars. Classics, in particular, don’t deal well with the additional salt and grit used on the roads at this time of year, while convertibles are unlikely to see as much use either.

One way to avoid any potential damage is to put your car into winter storage. It’s a method used by many to preserve their classic vehicles, but there’s no reason why you can’t put any type of car into winter hibernation. Let’s take a look at how you do it.

A good clean

Car cleaning
Focus on key areas where dirt could build up

The best place to start is with a good clean. Go through the usual routine with plenty of car-specific shampoo and clean water and don’t forget to focus on areas such as the wheelarches to ensure that they’re grime-free. If left unattended, patches like this can quickly develop into rust spots.And once you’ve finished, ensure that your car is absolutely dry before progressing onwards.

Check the fluids

Winter car checks
Use the dipstick to check oil levels

Once you’ve done cleaning, it’s a good idea to make sure that the car is topped up with all the right fluids. This includes fuel, oil and coolant, as well as windscreen washer fluid.Make sure that these are all topped up, while adding a fuel preservative to a full tank of petrol or diesel can help to make sure that the fuel lines don’t get clogged.

Tyres

Tyre pressure check
It’s paramount that a car’s tyres are inflated to the correct level (Goodyear)

Before parking your car up for a long time, it’s a good idea to make sure that your tyres are inflated to the correct pressures. These are easy to find, too, either in your vehicle’s handbook or on a panel behind the fuel filler cap.If you can, it’s best to elevate your car off the ground to avoid flat spots on your tyres. Though this isn’t possible for all people, if you can take the car off the ground then it’s well worth doing.

Find a place to store it

Though not everyone has the opportunity to store their car off-road, it’s worth looking at your options if you’re wanting to take your car off the road for the long-term. A garage is ideal, as it’ll protect your car from the elements, and will take the edge off any frosts or colder temperatures.

Failing that, a good car cover can make a real difference. Online retailers sell all manner of model-specific covers and it’s worth investing in a good one which fits your exact car. It’ll be better suited at protecting the vehicle if it’s the correct size and shape.

Leave the handbrake off

Car handbrake
Leaving the handbrake off prevents it from seizing over time

If you’re leaving your car in a secure location such as a garage, then it’s a good idea to leave the handbrake off and use chocks to stop the car from rolling away instead.Over longer periods of time – particularly on older cars – the handbrake can seize, leaving you with a challenge even to move it. Chocks get rid of this issue.

Think about a trickle charger

When a car isn’t running, the battery naturally depletes charge as the days pass by. Often, this results in a completely flat battery – particularly if you’re leaving the car for some time.

You can avoid this by using a trickle charge. Plugged into the mains and then attached to the car’s battery, this feeds a low-voltage ‘trickle’ of electricity into the battery to make sure that it’s kept topped up.

Consider registering your car SORN

If you’re able to store your car off the public road, then you can think about putting it on SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). Once done, you won’t have to pay any tax on the vehicle, but it does mean you can’t drive it on the public road under any circumstances.

If you’re planning to store your car on the road, however, it’ll still need to be taxed – or you risk having the vehicle clamped and taken away.

Think about a third-party car storage company

If you’re not able to store your car yourself, then it could be worth looking out for a car storage company near you. These will often look after your car while it’s parked up and ensure that the battery levels are kept topped up while keeping them spick and span ready for collection in the spring.

They’ll usually charge a monthly fee for this service and prices differ considerably between areas.

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