Storing a sports car for winter is a great way to protect it from the elements when the weather turns cold and nasty to ensure proper maintenance. Done right, your beloved chariot will emerge from a long winter’s nap refreshed and ready for spring. Do it wrong, and you could wind up with a car that won’t start or is inhabited by mice or other rodents.
So as the weather cools, the leaves change, people load up on all things pumpkin spice, and Christmas decorations make an appearance before Halloween, it’s a good time to think about putting away your toy for the winter.
Preparing your sports car for storage
- Wash your car and give it a good coat of wax. This will help prevent scratches using a car cover and make cleaning easier in the spring.
- Fill the fuel tank and add a good fuel stabilizer to prevent gunk and moisture from accumulating. Gasoline has a shelf life of about six months before it goes stale, but the stabilizer will extend that life to a year or more.
- Change the oil and filter to eliminate dirt and other contaminants.
- Run the car for about five minutes to circulate the fuel and fresh oil.
- Check the antifreeze and top off if needed.
- Add air to the tires until they are at the correct psi rating.
- Store your car in a dry, dark place with a concrete floor. If you’re storing your car in a barn or location with a dirt floor, place a heavy plastic tarp under the vehicle.
- Here’s a helpful tip from Hagerty: If you’re storing your car in a storage facility or other location, check with your insurance to ensure your car is covered.
Steps for storing your car
Once you’re ready to put your car in hibernation, do the following steps:
- Place small packages of baking soda in the interior and trunk of your car. This will help keep it fresh.
- Cover the air intake and exhaust pipes and place mothballs in the engine bay or under the car. These steps will deter animals.
- Place the vehicle on jack stands to rest the car’s suspension and keep the tires from getting flat spots.
- Disconnect your battery or place it on a battery tender.
- Close all windows and vents.
- Do a final check of the interior and trunk of the vehicle. Ensure you don’t leave anything that could spill, freeze, or burst.
- Cover your vehicle with a good, breathable indoor car cover. Ideally, you want one with a cotton, fleece, or microfiber lining to prevent scratches.
Some people like to start their vehicles periodically while in storage. This is not necessary if you’ve completed the above steps. However, there is no harm in starting your vehicle as long as you let it warm up and run for a good 10 minutes to burn off water vapor in the exhaust and circulate the fluids.
How to bring your sports car out of hibernation
When it’s time to pull your car out of winter storage, do the following:
- Uncover your car and inspect it for damage or signs of animal nests.
- Look for signs of leaks, including stains or puddles of oil, gas, or antifreeze.
- Make sure the battery is charged.
- Remove the mothballs and baking soda boxes.
- Remove the covers from the air intake and exhaust.
- Check the oil and antifreeze, verifying they are at the correct levels.
- Check the belts and coolant hoses for any cracks or signs of wear.
- Take the vehicle off jack stands and check the tire pressure.
- Start the car and check for any unusual noises.
- Test the brakes, applying pressure to the pedal. The pedal pressure should be firm, and the brakes shouldn’t stick.
- Let the car warm up for a minute, then take it for a short drive at low speed. Verify the temperature and oil pressure gauges show normal readings. Listen for any unusual sounds like thumping noises or clunks, which could indicate something is stuck or loose.
- After the test drive, recheck the car for leaks—then enjoy the spring weather!