When the driving season comes to an end and the temperatures beginning to drop here are a few tips on storing your Healey for the winter slumber that you can do to make waking her up in the spring a bit smoother.
Getting your Healey clean now will be much easier than after it has sat for a few months. Clean the car completely. A thorough cleaning will include the interior, exterior, undercarriage and under the hood. Any dirt that has accumulated on your Healey will be much easier to remove now than after it has set for several months. Starting with the interior, be sure to vacuum, dust, and clean everything. The cleaner the car is, the better it will handle storage. Make sure you thoroughly wash the undercarriage. The dirt left on the undercarriage will rust or corrode metal parts while in storage. Once you are done with the undercarriage, it is time to move on to the exterior.
Once the car is clean, give it the best wax job it has ever seen. Wax everywhere there is paint and polish any chrome on the car to keep it preserved over the winter months. Go over the car and make sure it is completely dry before putting it away. Any moisture that remains will corrode metal parts while your Healey is in storage.
Preventative maintenance will help prepare your Healey for sitting over the winter. You should change the following fluids:
The next step in preparing your car for storage is to change the engine oil and filter. As soon as your Healey is driven after an oil change, small amounts of condensation begin showing up inside the engine. If your Healey is not being driven, this moisture increases the risk of rust on internal engine parts. By changing the oil prior to storage, you will minimize the moisture in the system.
You should then top off your gas tank. Since our Healey gas tanks are metal, by filling up the gas you will not allow moisture to form from the gas vapours which can cause corrosion. A fuel stabilizer should also be used, as gasoline can break down over an extended period of time.
Next, disconnect the battery. . If the car will be stored for an extended period of time, remove it completely. Age and low temperatures in the winter can cause batteries to crack, thus subjecting your battery tray to battery acid. You can also use some type of battery maintainer or battery tender. These devices connect to your battery terminals and will provide the battery a continuous and consistent charge. Battery maintainers will shut down periodically to prevent overcharging. You have a few options on how to protect the tires. You can jack up the car and place it on jack stands, or over inflate the tires. By placing the car on jack stands it will prevent the tires from developing flat spots and it also reduces the strain on suspension bushings and other parts. Another option is to coat the tires in lithium grease. This is done to prevent the tires from drying out, cracking or developing leaks. You should not use petroleum based lubricants, such as Vaseline or Armor All, because they will eventually dry out and will actually dry and crack the tires. Lastly, by over inflating the tires you will prevent them from developing flat spots.
Also, make sure you lubricate the door hinges, door latches, door locks and the hood and trunk latches as well. If these latches lose their lubrication, they will become difficult to open. Your next concern is critters, such as mice or other vermin that can get into your car and destroy it. You should roll up all the windows and also keep the doors, trunk, and hood closed to eliminate pressure on the hinges and keep out critters. You should leave the top up, as it will keep the cover stretched. Another measure is to place packets of silica in the interior and trunk of the car to keep the areas free of moisture. The car should be left in gear, and no matter what you do, DO NOT APPLY THE PARKING BRAKE! By leaving the brake engaged, the shoes can freeze to the drum, making it difficult to free them.
Storing the car in a fully climate controlled building is the best choice. Unfortunately, this is not possible or most people. However, there are other options. Storing your car in a building without climate control can be equally efficient, but you must take the proper precautions. If the storage area you are using has concrete floors, placing carpet over the concrete will keep moisture away from the underside of the car. Concrete holds plenty of moisture and the carpet will help keep it away from the bottom of your car. It is suggested to at least cover the length of the car, but you can also carpet the entire concrete floor. Another option is to buy a plastic sheet or tarp and use it for the same purpose.
You can use an outside carport, but make sure you have protection from all sides against wind. Car covers can be used, but you must be very careful and consider the conditions the car will be subjected to outdoors. If it is in an area where it may experience a lot of wind, you have to make sure the cover is tight so that wind cannot flap the material as this can wear painted surfaces.
The most important feature you should look for in a car cover is that it is made of a breathable material. If moisture is trapped between the cover and the car, the breathable fabric will allow it evaporate quickly. If you store your car outside, check to make sure that no moisture (from rain or melting snow) is allowed to accumulate under the car or between the car and the cover. A car cover protects your car from light, dust, and the accidental bump. It will do this whether the car is stored indoors or outdoors. .
It should be noted this information applies to short-term storage. Preparing for long term storage requires much more in-depth preparations than those described here. .
Whether you follow these steps or not when storing your Healey, it is important that you have a plan that will eliminate the four biggest problems of storage (light, moisture, temperature extremes, and vermin). By doing so, you will ensure that your car will not only look like it did prior to storage.
Austin-Healey Magazine October-November 20
Preparing your Healey for the Winter