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Winter and Your Vintage Car

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Winter And Your Vintage Car

If you choose to continue driving your car over winter you will still need to have a decent storage space for your car. In fact, it is imperative, as exposure to wintry weather will require added input into the upkeep of your vehicle. As with those that lay up their cars, the ideal storage area for your vintage car will be dry, ventilated – to keep moisture levels at a minimum - and if possible, heated. Damp yet warm conditions are a perfect breeding ground for rust and corrosion, so if is really important to make sure that there is dry air circulating around your vehicle. You may find that it’s a good idea to invest in a dehumidifier.

Driving in the Winter

You should be prepared for some differences in driving in wintry conditions. For starters, always be equipped in case of a possible breakdown. Vintage cars can be more vulnerable to the wintry elements, so having a few elementary emergency supplies to hand, such as a torch, tow rope, blanket, a little food and water, a mobile phone and any tools for roadside repairs, is a highly advisable move.

Before setting off you should always check that everything is in working order. This includes checking all bulbs, anti-freeze levels, brakes, tyre pressure and tread, the battery and of course, making sure that the engine is starting properly. Cold engine starts do put an extra strain on the engine; so if the car really doesn’t seem to want to start, do not by any means keep ragging the engine in the vain hope that it will eventually fire up. Also, remember that each time you run your engine, once it is switched off, the moisture inside, if left, can deteriorate the engine. A better option is to think about purchasing and installing a pre-heater in your engine. Before you buy, it is best to seek the advice of a professional to see whether it is appropriate for your make and model of vintage car.

Winter driving itself may be hazardous, what with extreme cold conditions bringing the threat of black ice patches, reduced visibility and general difficult driving conditions. You should seriously consider whether it is wise travelling at such a time. Modern cars have all manner of security measures in place, should you find yourself skidding across the road sideways towards a rather deep ditch. These ‘standard’ luxuries tend not to be present in your common vintage car, and you should always be aware of this. Of course, driving on a cold, dry and sunny day in winter is markedly different from navigating through a blizzard and hailstorm, so perhaps checking the weather forecast before you set out is a good idea!

Salts, Dirt and Dust

Dust and dirt accumulated from road trips will contain high contents of salts, mainly picked up from the roads. This is the case more so during the winter, when gritting the roads is more commonplace. The road salts, if left to sit on your car components, can steadily cause corrosion. So if you plan on taking your vintage out for regular trips during this time, you will need to be prepared to invest much more time in thoroughly cleaning the car after pretty much each trip.

The easiest way to do a thorough cleaning job is if you jack the car up. Whilst this might seem laborious, it could save you a lot of time, money and effort later on. With a stiff wire brush, give the undercarriage a firm but fair once over, paying particular attention to any chrome and areas of dust and dirt build up, such as around the mudguards, and not forgetting the wire wheels. Once you have given the bodywork and chassis a clean and rinse, wait until the car is bone dry before you apply any grease or wax.

As wintry conditions can excel the speed at which rust and corrosion occurs, it is worth checking over for rust in the usual spots – around the seals, floor panels, bodywork panels and so forth. If you are satisfied that there are no sinister patches, or have treated any occurrences accordingly, you can wash the paintwork, again allowing it to dry thoroughly before the final protective waxing.

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