Our aim is to have every car we store remaining in as good condition as the day it arrived. Given proper preparation and maintenance during storage, this is entirely achievable.
Cars should be fully maintained prior to storage. Even with good maintenance though, some parts of the car can degrade purely as a result of time and regardless of mileage. Below is some information about how cars behave during storage and how we can work with you to maintain your car in top condition.
The single biggest issue with storage is battery condition. Even a healthy battery has some internal "leakage" and if left uncharged it will discharge itself over a period of 3-6 months. Once discharged the battery undergoes a chemical change known as sulphation. Once sulphation has occurred the battery is unlikely to be recoverable. A healthy battery can be maintained by regular charging. We use intelligent battery conditioners that monitor the charge state of the battery and when needed apply a low current to maintain a charged state. This prevents sulphation and means the car can be easily restarted.
Battery conditioners cannot remedy old batteries. If a battery is near the end of its life it will deteriorate and will need to be replaced. In some cases a car has been working fine with daily use and its owner is unaware that its battery is in poor condition. We test batteries prior to storage. We will warn you if your battery is failing and can organise a replacement.
Modern cars that have many electronic devices drawing current, even when the car is switched off! Some cars can discharge their battery in a couple of weeks. When power is re-applied the internal computers have to reboot which is best avoided. Again, we recommend a healthy battery connected to a conditioner is the best way to prevent this happening.
Tyres must stay well inflated at all times. Combining this with periodic wheel rotation will eliminate "flat spotting" that can occur if cars are stood still for an extended period, more so in the case of old tyres. Classic cars tend to have low annual mileage which means the tyres will not wear out for many years. Rubber hardens over time resulting in reduced grip and the possibility of blow out. For safety reasons, tyres need to be replaced every 10 years regardless of the amount of wear.
Often ignored, brake fluid has a limited life. It is hydroscopic, meaning it absorbs water from the atmosphere. This dissolved water results in reduced braking efficiency when the heat produced by braking turns it to steam. Many owners will be unaware that they have old brake fluid during daily use, but for stored cars the water can cause rust and seizure in critical brake components. Uneven braking is the most common cause of MOT failure and is largely avoidable. We recommend cars be stored with fresh brake fluid if possible and this should be changed every three years regardless of usage. Exercising the car and using the brakes can help prevent seizure. The standard brake fluid can be replaced with a silicone fluid which is not hydroscopic. Not everyone likes the silicone fluids as the brakes can be less efficient and it may have compatibility issues with classic brake components.
Fuel degrades over time, after 12 months or so a car will be difficult to start and will not run well. We recommend storing a car with very little fuel. Regular starting and warming up will use up old fuel which will then be replaced with fresh.
Dirty engine oil contains sludge and acids. Sludge can block oil ways and may result in engine damage upon restarting. Acids will slowly corrode engine parts. We recommend that before cars are stored they should have their engines flushed (if needed) and filled with fresh oil.
Lengthy periods of storage will cause the oil to settle to the lowest part of the engine, the sump. On restarting this may cause the engine to be temporarily starved of oil, causing wear. This can be avoided by regular engine starts and warming up.
Contaminated coolants can cause corrosion to the cooling system. We recommend maintaining the correct coolant with antifreeze/inhibitor. The inhibitor in the antifreeze prevents corrosion, but this also has a limited life. Antifreeze should ideally be changed every 3 years.
Rubber and plastic components will age regardless of use. Items in contact with fuel or oil are the most vulnerable. The only way failure can be prevented is with regular inspection and replacement when needed. This can be taken care of with advanced storage preparation and regular servicing.
Other moving parts can seize if left unused for extended periods. Exercising the car can help, as can regular lubrication.
Damp conditions and grime can cause interiors to deteriorate. We recommend keeping the interior clean and treating leather with a good quality leather food. We store in a well ventilated building with the windows slightly open to allow some air flow and preventing damp conditions.
If left outside, UV rays will deteriorate paint work. Its life will be considerably extended if kept away from direct sunlight. Wind, rain and other hazards will also cause damage. Indoor storage is the best solution!
The biggest cause of under-body rust and corrosion is road salt combined with damp mud deposits from winter driving. Keeping the under body clean, free of mud and protected with a good layer of rust protection is recommended. Not driving on salty roads is a good idea. This damage is best avoided by indoor storage during the winter.
A well maintained car will give very few problems during storage. We can help by ensuring your car is in the best condition possible.
Advanced car prep
We always carry out basic checks prior to storage or return. If your car is in need of more maintenance we can offer an advanced prep package to get your car into the best condition ready for storage and future use. This includes valet, full service including all fluids replacing and a detailed inspection of all components, replacing as needed. Please enquire for full details.
Lay up service
If you do not plan to use your car for several years we can offer a lay up service. Similar to advanced prep, but also involves draining out fluids, removing the battery, extra greasing, bodywork protection with wax and setting the car on axle stands. Please enquire for full details.