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So I've been thinking about my impending move to Michigan and I realized I'm not quite sure what needs to be done to store a car for the winter. I've read a lot of conflicting information on the subject while searching the internet. What do you guys do to store your cars for the winter?

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You hear a lot on this because everyone has their own program. But as usual I say consider the options first. Are you storing the car at home or a commercial location? Will it be accessible where it is? The difference is if you plan to run the engine, or not, during the winter.

Regardless of that issue , since this may be new I suggest you evaluate the shell for rodent exclusion. Mice are resourceful creatures and will cause a lot of damage. Check the holes in the car and see what you can do to keep mice out. Stainless Steel scrubbies are a great defense.

Edited by JohnD1956 (see edit history)
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So I've been thinking about my impending move to Michigan and I realized I'm not quite sure what needs to be done to store a car for the winter. I've read a lot of conflicting information on the subject while searching the internet. What do you guys do to store your cars for the winter?

Add Sta-Bil to the gas. Put lots of mouse traps out. At least once a month start the car and run to full operating temp, move it back and forth a few times and operate every switch and electrical component a few times. If the weather is dry a short ride is best. Anything more is fine but over kill...........................Bob

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This year I have a web based thermostat for the garage and I will maintain a 50 degree minimum. I can bump the setpoint up from my phone or computer if I want to work out there. An important consideration is maintaining a constant temperature or high ventilation to keep dew from forming on the car.

Except under bad weather conditions I will try to drive each car 15 miles per week. There are 3 good diners in nearby towns to help me do that.

I don't have a car cover. I like to sit in my drafting chair and day dream or plan.

Since I built the garage in 1988, it has been a ritual to turn the heat up on January 1st and wash & wax a car. Her's a shot of that in 2003:

wetriv2.jpg

There is a book from the 1960's call The Fun of Old Cars. Don't get wrapped around this storage idea and lose the fun. There are people around me whom have already put theirs away.

Bernie

"OH, one more thing." If you wash the car on January 1st put a block of wood under the door so it doesn't freeze shut. Guess how I learned that!

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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Do what you can and don't get hung up on the articles written in all the auto magazines each fall about storage. Yes it would be nice for everyone to have a heated/air conditioned storage for they collectables but the reality is we don't. On jacks/not on jacks...an ongoing discussion. Mice can be a problem so do what you can, If your storage is also your shop, maybe a rescue cat could handle the mice issue.

Last, we read almost monthly about barn finds that have been sitting for 20-30 year and they add gas and the car runs......with nothing done during that long storage.

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Robert, at the wildcat465 household, there are just a few key things we do for the winter storage.

1. We realize there is no mouse deterrent, making them die is the only option.

2. Make sure your coolant tests to -34 degrees (that's Fahrenheit ;)).

3. Put a cheap battery maintainer on after charging battery, I get them at Harbor freight when they go on sale for $5.

So far so good at this location for the last 13 years.

​Your results may vary.

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Why store it? Drive it every weekend. At the very least let it run for 15 minutes. Then again, Michigan probably uses a lot of road salt. Not sure. That crap will eat the body away. Anyway, I drive mine every weekend. 10-15 miles. If time, weather and gas allowance allows drive it once a week.

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In this area places like the county fair sites will rent space under their open buildings. They get a lot of vehicles in there and it's a nice alternative if your individual storage is limited. They have a day when people park em, and first come first served. Most people put a cover over the car after removing the battery for take home. Top issue is no access to the car all winter. Antifreeze protection is a must, at the max level possible, which does mean not 100% antifreeze, but a 50/50 mix. Top the gas tank and follow Bhigdog's advice on the Stabil. In this case I would consider stuffing a SS Scrubbie in the end of the exhaust pipe and in the air cleaner intake, as well as removing under hood flex hose and stuffing those ports to the heater system as well. I would also look for a breatheable car cover, maybe even a car bag.

In my own garage I stapled those SS Scrubies to the garage door jambs in the corners. Then I backed those up with mouse traps right next to the wall a few inches away from the doors. I also threw a few Bounce Fabric Softner dryer sheets in the area, and there was no intrusion that I know of. But I also keep the hoods open on the cars in the garage. Mice prefer the dark. So this is an easy step. It also takes the tension off the hood springs for whatever that is worth. Bounce sheets in the interior too, which does help keep things smelling fresh if nothing else.

Change the oil and run the engine for a few minutes to get fresh oil in the passages and stabil preped gas into the carb. Get that battery tender. That is probably essential on that 6 volt battery. I will also run my cars about once every two months. Once a month is better. But I just seem to miss that mark more often than not.

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Change the fluids & refresh antifreeze, stabilize the gas in the tank, start the car and shut off the gas to the carb. until it dies. If it has wood wheels, put it on jack stands.

This will work fine without starting or driving all winter.

(if the jack stands are tall enough, mice can't get in).

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Do what you can and don't get hung up on the articles written in all the auto magazines each fall about storage. Yes it would be nice for everyone to have a heated/air conditioned storage for they collectables but the reality is we don't. On jacks/not on jacks...an ongoing discussion. Mice can be a problem so do what you can, If your storage is also your shop, maybe a rescue cat could handle the mice issue.

Last, we read almost monthly about barn finds that have been sitting for 20-30 year and they add gas and the car runs......with nothing done during that long storage.

Robert,

I know you are asking because of your impending move and.. all the things that come with that but.. I agree with what Barney has said. I put my Special in a drive shed at a farm with a dirt floor (after placing barn plank and plastic down first) about 1976. Back then no one thought of putting gas stablizer in the tank. I just made sure the rad antifreeze was about 50/50 and finally in 1983 went out with a new battery, topped off the tank, splashed some gas down the carb and after several times cranking, off she went! Drove it the 20 miles to home after checking to make sure she had brakes 1st and started looking after the necessary mechanical things so my wife and I could cruise with the gang dependably. Surely not everyone's experience but it did happen.

post-36036-143142216923_thumb.jpg

At the very worst, even if you had to park it in the driveway for your first winter, brush off the snow occasionally, keep the battery charged with a battery tender, fire it up occasionally as stated from others, using the brakes, keep it off the salted roads and with all you have accomplished mechanically, you should be good to go come spring time.

Oh and... all my cars have never been lucky enough to be housed in an insulated / heated garage.

Wishing you the best,

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Guest my3buicks

I do nothing but make sure the car is clean, fluids and gas are full, mothballs & bounce sheets, I take out batteries so I can keep them charged, and cover them. It's not like you are putting them away for years, it's a few months over winter. I do put plastic sheeting down on the cement floor to keep moisture from coming up also. Have been doing this for 30 plus years and have never had an issue or any kind of damage or deterioration.

I also refrain from getting the cars wet close to time to put them away.

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I suppose I am lucky to live in the south in that I just keep on driving them all year. They are as much fun for me to drive at 30 degrees as they are at 80 degrees. I am not a car show person so I do not miss the car events of Summer. I simply drive these old cars for fun. However, salty roads would be reason keep the ladies inside.

I'll be happy to store it for you, you could visit her on weekends and Holidays. I would be happy to exercise her for you too. What are cyber friends for?

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Michigan salts roads with the best of them...the first time they salt, the cars go into hibernation. I add Stabil to the tanks, but don't fill them. Michigan gas turns bad faster than you can look at it (personal experience). I jack the tires up about 10 psi, maybe undo the battery ground, check to make sure they're reasonably clean, and that's it. I usually don't start or move them.

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Thanks for all of the advice guys. It has been very helpful. The car will be stored in an at-home garage, most likely unheated with a concrete floor. I've already decided that a 2 car garage is a MUST when picking out a place to live. A pole barn would be nice too but I'd settle for a 2 car garage.:) I don't think I'll be driving it at all in the winter due to the amount of salt that I've heard is used up there. My car would be eaten alive because of the exposed nature of the remaining paint and sheet metal (also known as "patina"). She'll be going in the garage and not coming out til' Spring. After looking into this issue and reading everything here there seems to be two methods of storage. The "start it" method and the "don't start it" method. I believe I will go with the "don't start it" method and see how that works for me. I've also read that bias ply tires can develop flat spots rather quickly so I think I'll put the car on jackstands and remove the tires. Any of you have any advice for me on the bias ply issues? I read that in an article so who knows if it's true. I don't think I'll bother with covering it seeing as there is not really any shiny paint to protect.

Here's my winter storage check list I've come up with so far. It's a combination of everything I've read and all of the advice given here. I picked and chose from all of that to create this list.

  • clean car

  • remove battery, store in warm dry place, and charge periodically
  • change oil and filter
  • top up fluids and test antifreeze
  • fill up gas tank and add stabilizer
  • disconnect gas line and run fuel out of carburetor
  • put steel wool in tail pipe and other holes
  • put down mouse traps
  • put activated charcoal boxes on interior floor to absorb moisture and odors
  • put car on jackstands
  • remove tires to keep flat spots from forming on bias ply tires

  • put down plastic sheet to stop moisture transfer from concrete

  • crack open the windows for ventilation

Edited by shadetree77 (see edit history)
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'Cept I don't have mice...

Harumph, what's your secret? ;)

Robert, if a car driven out in the salt is parked in the same garage, watch out for the melting snow/slush on the floor. When it warms up, it is just like salty sea air in your garage. Our DD's stay OUT all winter. All summer for that matter.

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Here is my list.

-Stabil in the tank

-Oil changed

-Battery on a maintainer

-Park on a tarp

-Cover it

-Set up mouse traps and check them every two weeks

Of course I get sick of seeing my toys all covered up, so the first decent day I get I go fire them up for a bit. With all the salt they put on the roads here I dont dare drive them anywhere.

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I have purchased some battery chargers made by Schumacher that are their newer electronic units. I found them when I needed a 6V maintainer for my '39 Buick.

The beauty of these units is they are chargers and maintainers and automatically adjust for 6 or 12 v.

I found them on Ebay and there is a place in Indianapolis that sells returned units. I am attaching a link to one of their items. Schumacher has several different amp units.

This place in Indianapolis usually bundles them ... 2 units, 4 units. The get the returns and test and repair 100%.

take a look = http://www.ebay.com/itm/SET-4-Schumacher-6-AMP-6-12-V-AUTOMATIC-CAR-TRUCK-BATTERY-CHARGER-MAINTAINER-XC6-/360751394756?pt=Motors_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories&hash=item53fe756fc4&vxp=mtr#ht_1510wt_997

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I have a steel 2-1/2 car out-building, gravel floor.

Mice, are something you must be aware of. I don't like (d-con), mice will take it and hide for future use, it will turn to mold over time. I find that VICTOR old fashion traps, NOT THE NEW PRE-BATED ONES work best. I put peanut butter on the tab, sit it on a piece of cardboard, tear a thumb size hole in a tissue, carefully lay such over the trap, exposing the bate. Check it often, mice can squeeze under a very thin crack.

I wish you well,

Dale in Indy

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Putting traps with food on them inviting them into the car does not sound like the most sound idea on earth - just saying, that's like, hey come to dinner, once they find food, even if you get one the first time, more will follow. That's like putting a weasel in the hen house.

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my3buicks, I love it when someone is negative, but offers no solution.

I live in the country, I also put traps around my cars, but they get in, they make nests, so after nearly 50 years of dealing with such, I can say my suggestion has worked well for me.

Dale in Indy

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I live in the country also, two farms within a stones throw, horses in the back field, cows in the front. I keep Decon in my garage year round, not just winter. Mice that ingest Decon search out water so generally leave the building. Year round control is part of the key. Also have the bait out for sure in the fall when they are trying to find their winter homes so they do not succeed in setting up residence. I keep mothballs and bounce fabric softening sheets in my car and have never had a mouse issue in 30 plus years of storing cars. I gave my mothball & bounce solution in an earlier post so did offer a solution. It comes down to common sense when storing a car.

Edited by my3buicks (see edit history)
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SMH (shaking my head) Sad you read that statement into meaning you in general. it was meant as a whole you have to use common sense when storing a car. Take it as you want.

Edited by my3buicks (see edit history)
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I pretty much do what everyone else here has said. I stopped using my car covers because I found condensation under them one spring when I took them off, so I just cover them with blankets and add Stabil. My cars are parked in the garage with our every day cars, so we're obviously in and out all the time. I think that keeps mice at bay. If there's no salt on the roads, I will take them out for a run. One year, I was still driving them in January. If I can't take them out, then I start them up a couple of times.

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I plan to drive mine about 15 miles at least once a week this winter (Mild here no snow no salt). I don't know if the commercial building my car is now stored in has a mouse problem or not so I am asking about keeping bounce and mothballs inside the car . It must be a solution as it was mentioned a few times here. Also do mice avoid a car that is driven weekly or do they just enjoy the ride? :)

Thanks

Wayne

1941 Buick Super 51

post-78086-143142218874_thumb.jpg

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"put open baking soda boxes on interior floor to absorb moisture"

Baking soda will not absorb moisture; odors only...

Yep, you're right Willie. I copied and pasted that from a list I found online. Guess I wasn't paying much attention.:rolleyes: And I guess whoever wrote the article I got that from didn't know what they were talking about. I fixed the list on my other post. Something like this will work though. I used them in my damp Jeep once when we got caught out in the rain with the top off. Worked great on the moisture and the odor.

post-75106-14314221919_thumb.jpg

Edited by shadetree77 (see edit history)
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ROBERT, 'round here, we don't call it Winter Storage. That's just the normal state of being for collectible cars in a sub-Arctic zone. Instead, we look forward to driving our beauties between the barricades during the brief but glorious Road Construction Season.

In late October, I try to run the gas tank low, wash and dry the car, and then pump up the tires a little higher than normal. I check the antifreeze, and tuck the car into my garage or storage building. I NEVER leave my cars outside for the winter. I can't afford a car, if I can't afford to store it properly. I throw on the car cover, put the battery in the house, and plug an electronic trickle charger onto it.

In early May, I put the battery back in, check the oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid, and drive back to the city to get the keys I forgot. Then I fire up the engine and head to a service station to fill 'er up and reset the tire pressures. When I get home, I change the oil and wash and hang the car cover to dry, so it's clean and ready for the next storage cycle, in a few short months.

"if the jack stands are tall enough, mice can't get in" - MARK, I love the simplicity of that! Wooden wheels or not, use jack stands if you must park in a mouse-vulnerable building.

Edited by Rob McDonald
watch for tall mice (see edit history)
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In early May, I put the battery back in, check the oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid, and drive back to the city to get the keys I forgot.

Love it. I understand the short construction (aka mosquito) season.

I too always bring my batteries inside after giving them a full charge. I've not had an issue in terms of batteries going bad...I do put them on the charger again in spring before use.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a building that is not mouse-vulnerable. Treat things as if they are and get aggressive with rodent control. One thing to note is that the new poison used is quite dangerous to pets as well, so if you have those, make sure you get the "houses" to put the poison in. You don't want to know what it costs to take two standard poodles to a vet for induce vomiting, activated charcoal, and a course of vitamin K. Thankfully, I don't remember an exact amount....

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As this is about Robert's Winter Storage question up in Michigan (close to home)....and mice came up....

Bought this riding lawnmower last year from the original owner who washed and waxed it after every use since 1992, then put it in his wood floor shed...

I used it on a 3/4 acre yard soon after as it seemed to run great, finished and drove it on the trailer and when got back home smelled smoke! It seems the MICE had built a mobile home!

post-36036-143142221775_thumb.jpg

Being a twin cylinder both sides has to be completely cleaned out!

post-36036-143142221781_thumb.jpg

(notice the pile/home on the lower right after cleaning)

Soooooo glad this has never happened to one of my cars!

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...Here's my winter storage check list I've come up with so far. It's a combination of everything I've read and all of the advice given here. I picked and chose from all of that to create this list.

  • clean car

  • remove battery, store in warm dry place, and charge periodically
  • change oil and filter
  • top up fluids and test antifreeze
  • fill up gas tank and add stabilizer
  • disconnect gas line and run fuel out of carburetor
  • put steel wool in tail pipe and other holes
  • put down mouse traps
  • put activated charcoal boxes on interior floor to absorb moisture and odors
  • put car on jackstands
  • remove tires to keep flat spots from forming on bias ply tires

  • put down plastic sheet to stop moisture transfer from concrete

  • crack open the windows for ventilation

Just two comments. Do not use Steel Wool on the holes or exhaust pipe. Use Stainless Steel Scrubbies. Usually available at the grocery store in the sponge/ brush section. The steel wool will rust. The stainless steel scrubbies will not.

Second, it seems contradictory to put activated carbon inside the car to absorb moisture and then leave the windows open for ventilation. Also if mice do get in the garage, you would want the windows closed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I live overseas and only get to run my US vehicles once a year. Tractor, pick up, couple Harley's and soon a classic Buick. I have a large clean dry shop that two feline jihadists call home (cat door), plus I have mouse bait with poison. I thoroughly wash and dry my treasures, change all the fluids, even in the lawn mowers, and use a battery tender on everything. While I am on a farm loaded with rodents, they give my shop wide birth. Cats are the best mouse trap ever designed and these two critters respect the contents. I have on occasion found a mouse skull, but I think those are carried in for entertainment. I fill every fuel tank and add stabilizer. Every engine starts immediately, no worries. Even if I don't use an engine, I always change the oil every year. Can't hurt. Maintenance is not a chore, it is a hobby.

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I have web based thermostats through my HVAC company so I decided what better place than my garage. Being an distrustful geek, I didn't want to go wireless for the 150' and ran a CAT5 wire in a plastic tube to the garage; just finishing up.

The plan is to maintain 53 degrees. When I am in the diner I just hit the phone app and its ready for me when I get home. I'll enter the CCF rating for the furnace and calculate my daily cost. If it gets too expensive we'll curtail the heating. It also has a couple sets of dry contacts to notify me of a break in or the like.

I'm not trying to write an advertisement, just letting all know what's out there. BayWeb makes the stat and here's how we communicate, buried in a ditch:

post-46237-143142253036_thumb.jpg

Bernie

Yes, up here in the wilds of western New York we still have clotheslines.

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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My cars are tucked in too tight to use before the spring. I add Stabil to the gas, disconnect the batteries and make sure the anti-freeze is good to go even though this garage doesn't go to freezing temps. post-30819-143142253576_thumb.jpg

My house garage stores my 2 DD's I don't like any cars sitting outside..............

Edited by Skyking
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So I've been thinking about my impending move to Michigan and I realized I'm not quite sure what needs to be done to store a car for the winter.....

Here would be my list:

#1. Nix the Sta-bil, mouse traps, moth balls, baking soda, battery maintainers, car covers, s.s. scrubbies, wireless thermostats, and all the other do-dads. Think of all the money you would be saving.

#2. When shopping for a rental home in Michigan, find and rent one that has a good-sized Basement. Plan on parking your daily drivers in the Garage.

#3. With the saved money, go out and buy a dozen boxes of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts® and invite all your new neighbors over for a "block warming party" to get acquainted.

#4. While they are over looking at your Buick, nonchalantly start disassembling your Buick again and ask them to help carry the parts down to the Basement. Make sure you have enough doughnuts so that you don't run out before the entire Buick is in the Basement.

#5. Enjoy the Michigan winter working on your Buick in a warm Basement.

#6. Come Spring, carry up all the parts and re-assemble your Buick again. (You might wind up doing this yourself along with Mrs. Shadetree.) :o

Al Malachowski

BCA #8965

"500 Miles West of Flint"

Edited by 1953mack
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