Classic Car Club of America


Oregon Region


Technical Articles

Oregon Region Classic Car Club of America - all rights reserved.



The following are some tips to help you winterize you classic so it will be ready for that spring tour.....

EXTERIOR: See to scratches, rust spots, chrome plating, brass and or nickel.  Look at the paint in general, on the  body, fenders and wheels.  Winter is a good time to make repairs.

TIRES: Check for proper inflation and unusual wear patterns, as well an cuts and tears.

GLASS: Look for cracking or scratches and poor weather stripping.  It's a good time to wash it thoroughly

TOP: Check the convertible top material, soft top, snaps, fastenings and bindings. Leave the top in the up position to prevent wrinkling of the top fabric.

INTERIOR: Clean it thoroughly. Get out those cookie crumbs, potato chips and just plain dust and dirt. Use a vacuum cleaner. If you use compressed air, go easy, you donít want to blow a hole in something. Donít forget about mice and other animals like moths or ants who may have made a home in your car.  Look everything over carefully. If the bottom seat cushions are removable, I suggest you clean under them at this time. Check door panels, window regulator handles, dashboard (are all the instruments working?), steering wheel, controls, choke, spark, throttle, floor mats, etc.  Be sure to check interior fabric or leather and clean or condition it as needed.

Critters: Depending on your storage area, you may need to protect against moths, mice, rats and sometimes other creatures who decide your car will make a nice cozy place to spend the winter.

BODY EXTERIOR AND CHASSIS: Clean and polish the body, chrome, brass and/or nickel. Remove the dead bugs and other residue like mud and tar globs. Grease all the fittings just to be sure they will accept grease. Donít forget to do the springs that have gaiters or other covers. Lubricate brake linkages, cross shafts, cables, clevis pins, and while your there, check cotter pins to see if theyíre still in place.  It might be a good idea to check the brake linings and adjustments for both the foot and parking brake systems. If you find you have a problem now, you have all winter to fix it.

If your car is young enough to have hydraulic brakes, check for leaks, check for fluid level in the master cylinder as well as inspect the flex lines and wheel cylinders. Since brake fluid absorbs water, this might be a good time to consider flushing the system and replacing the fluid. The brake cylinders that donít rust over the winter are the ones that will work well in the spring.

While youíre under your car, this is a good time to check your transmission and differential for proper lubricant levels as well as for signs of leaking. While youíre looking, check the drive shaft and universal joints, as well as the tie rod ends and steering gear box. Be sure to check for free play in your steering system in general. See if you have any crankcase or valve cover leaks or any other oil leaks around the engine.

Engine: This is a good time to warm up the engine and change the oil. Stay with the same make of oil you've been using but, depending on your location and any anticipated winter use, you may want to change grade. Check the engine wiring, starter cables, spark plug wires and any other wires found in the engine compartment or under the dash. Look for loose of frayed wires and do something about them before you have an electrical fire.

This is also a good time to pull the spark plugs and do a compression test. If you do this, leave the ignition switch off as you turn over the engine. If you must switch on the ignition to activate the starter, be sure to remove and ground the spark coil lead to prevent the engine from trying to start. It helps to have two people to perform a compression test, one to hold the throttle wide open and activate the starter, and another to record the reading.  Crank the engine over three times for each cylinder you're checking and read the pressure on each cylinder.  Generally speaking, each cylinder should be within about ten pounds of each other.  If you have one with unusually low compression, you'll know that's where your problems lie.

While you have the spark plugs out, this is a perfect opportunity to inspect them, and replace them if necessary. Donít forget the points and condenser either.

BATTERY: Make sure that itís clean. You can wash it with a solution of baking soda and water and then rinse it off and dry it. Top off the fluid level with distilled water. Never add more acid to any battery.

Batteries can discharge due to moisture and dust across the top between the terminals. Clean the terminals and posts, replace and tighten them, then coat them lightly with Vaseline. Donít coat the posts or the terminals before you re-assemble them, as that can cause a poor connection which will result in a voltage drop which causes poor starting and erratic charging.

If you use a battery trickle charger, be careful as some types will over charge your battery and boil it dry. Be sure to check the fluid level while you are charging. If you use a regular low rate charger, once a month charging is usually adequate. The battery should be stored in a cool place. A fully charged battery will not freeze 80 degrees below zero, but a battery stored at 80 degrees will lose one percent of its charge every day.

Radiator: Be sure to test your anti-freeze concentration. Itís a good idea to use some antifreeze, even in warm climates. Most manufacturers recommend a 50/50 mix with water. (Distilled is a better choice than tap water, since it wonít leave any mineral deposits behind). If itís time to change antifreeze, itís a good idea to flush the cooling system before you add the new solution. Youíll be amazed how much crud can come out of your engine and radiator. At this time, it will never be easier to check and replace any hoses and clamps. You might even want to take the opportunity to replace those auto parts store clamps with some CCCA approved clamps that are similar to original equipment on your car. Be sure to check your fan belt(s). If your water pump has a grease fitting, grease it with water pump grease, not regular chassis lube. Use a hand gun to keep the pressure low. You donít want to blow out your seals!. While youíre under the hood, check the latches, hinges and hood laces. Clean all the bugs and other stuff from your radiator.

FUEL SYSTEM: Be sure to use some form of stabilizer and preferably drain the vacuum tank (if you have one) and run the carburetor dry if youíre going to leave the car in storage for any length of time with out running the engine. With todayís fuels, a gas shut off valve at the tank is a very handy device to have. Whenever you are going to leave your car in storage, just shut off the gas supply and let the engine run until the gas lines and carburetor run out of fuel. This stuff canít eat out hard to get rubber parts if it isnít there.

With all these things taken care of, you should rest easily and be ready to enjoy your Classic Car next spring.