As John Keats observed back in 1795, “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” is already here and with it most of us will in these modern times be thinking of preparing our classic cars for long periods of inactivity. After a summer and early autumn of warm, dry weather the prospect of cold, damp nights as the evenings close in needs a bit of a reality check; we can now look forward to a good six months of nights when condensation will occur even in the best insulated garages.
Unless you are prepared for the expense of maintaining an even temperature of at least +10C in your storage space, condensation is inevitable, not just on the bodywork of your car, but in chassis members, electrical components and engines (remember that at rest any engine with valves will have one or more cylinders open to the atmosphere). Condensation is quite simply the unseen catalyst for rust, corrosion and rot – one of the main reasons why car and antique restorers are kept in business!
Our tips for preparing your car or motorbike for winter are:
* Thoroughly clean the bodywork, wheels and chrome to remove any micro contaniments that can react with moisture to attack paintwork and bare metal. A good, but gentle, cutting paste is worth using, followed by a clay bar application and then a wax polish.
* Do an oil change! Modern oils hold all kinds of harmful chemicals in suspension, but loose their holding properties after just a few weeks of inactivity. It is surprising how much water an oil sump will contain after an engine has stood unused for a month or more.
* Unless your battery is the sealed or gel type, check the electrolyte level, top up and recharge the battery. Connect a battery conditioner to keep the battery cycling; it will increase battery life and ensure a start next time you need it. The Airflow Automatic 12V battery conditioner is an economical and efficient solution.
* Now is the time to check coolant levels and anti-freeze. As well as preventing a frozen, and as a result damaged radiator and engine block, anti-freeze in sufficient concentration is a corrosion inhibitor that is vital to keep internal water passages in engines rust free.
* Check when your brake and clutch hydraulic fluid was last changed. Hydraulic fluid is hygroscopic, it absorbs moisture which being heavier than the fluid finds its way by gravity to the lowest parts of brake and clutch systems causing corrosion in brake calipers and hydraulic cylinders.
* Check the tyre pressures and inflate to at least 5psi above normal driving values; this will help guard against normal pressure loss with time and avoid annoying “flat spots” next time you use the car.
* A car cover will keep your car clean but unless used in a constantly heated storage space will encourage condensation as they trap pockets of air which provide an instant source of condensation as soon as the temperature falls. Airchamber is the complete answer, as it filters out dust and dirt and transforms any storage space into an eco-friendly controlled dry environment.