Classic Car: All Things Maintenance and Storage

As any classic car owner will tell you, the day you sign up to own a classic car is also the day you commit to a demanding long-term relationship. Unless you strike very lucky, your typical classic motor is going to require a lot more care and maintenance than a new one thanks to the age and condition of its components.

This is all part of the draw for most classic car enthusiasts, however, and spending time working on your vehicle should be largely a rewarding experience. Looking after your dearly beloved tends to boil down to two key areas: maintenance and storage. Here, we talk both in our brief guide to basic classic car upkeep.

Where and how to store

If you’re one of many who reserve the use of their classic car for lazy Sundays or recreational drives – or perhaps puts their car into hibernation for the winter – the manner in which you store your vehicle is especially important to maintaining its long-term condition.

Wherever you store your vehicle, the space that it occupies needs to protect it from the weather, moisture, extreme weather conditions and, of course, prying eyes. Here are a few typical storage options and best practices:

  • Brick garage: not just any garage, a brick garage provides optimal conditions for classic car storage, maintaining a stable temperature that removes the risk of condensation, therefore creating an all-important moisture-free environment. Just ensure you’ve got good locks on your garage door.
  • Concrete or wooden units: not as effective as the brick garage, but will do enough to protect your vehicle from the worst of the elements and offer security. Because they lack the breathability of brick garages, running a fan every week will help to circulate stale air that could otherwise be problematic if left to sit.
  • Outdoors: it’s never ideal to leave your dream car outside face to face with the elements, but not everyone has a garage. In this instance, you’ll want to invest into a quality cover that will protect against wind rub, sunlight and anything else the British climate will throw at it – as well as hiding it from plain view. Don’t just go with any old tarp to cover your car – spend money on a custom or fitted option instead. 

While your car is in storage, make sure to:

  • Check fluid levels regularly
  • Treat any rust with a high-quality lubricant
  • Run the engine every few weeks
  • Clean the car after every drive
  • Leave the windows open while stored (in a garage)
  • Disconnect the battery
  • Keep the car out of direct sunlight

Before the drive

When it’s time to hit the road, temper your excitement for a little while and focus on carrying out the essentials that will ensure your car is fit for use – then you can head out confident you’ve got all the important bases covered:

  • Cleaning prep: Before you take your car for its first outing in some time, a thorough wax should be applied and repeated once every few months – this will keep your car body protected and looking new. After every drive, it’s also a good idea to do a quick clean of your car, rinsing it down to get rid of any corrosive road dirt.
  • Get a service: You might be knowledgeable enough to carry out all the basic classic car maintenance and checks yourself. If you’re not up to speed, get the professionals involved to give your car the once over before active use.
  • Check and recharge the battery: Unsurprisingly, old batteries are highly susceptible to fading in cold weather, so it’s a good idea to do a full recharge before the warmer months or if you haven’t used it in a while.
  • Make sure you’re protected: specialist classic car insurance is easy to find and highly accessible these days, so don’t head out without the right type of cover in place.
  • Wash, rinse and repeat before storage: if it’s time for your car to go back into storage, make sure it’s waxed, cleaned and polished before locking the garage door.

Looking after the car is most of the battle with proper classic car ownership. Luckily, though, most of us enjoy doing it. With correct storage and maintenance being the key to survival, follow this guide above and you can focus more on time spent behind the wheel rather than under the bonnet.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.