John Gilbert Staff Editor
November 19, 2015

Winter is coming fast, and there’s going to be a devil knocking on your garage door any day now. Don’t let him in! To beat the devil and protect your classic Ford from the extreme cold and harsh elements one has to prepare. Interestingly whether you intend to drive your classic all winter long, or store it until the sun shines again, a lot of the preparations that must be made are surprisingly similar.

Cold starts and running cold can do as much damage to an engine as running overheated. The first step to storing a car or making sure no unnecessary damage will occur if its driven is to make sure it has clean oil of the correct viscosity and grade in the engine. Particularly if an engine is carbureted, it’s likely the motor oil is dirty and diluted with gasoline and contaminated with condensation that turns into acid.

Not the lysergic kind Dr. Timothy Leary used to drop, acids created when the sulfur present in gasoline combines with condensation (moisture) produced during cold starts. Colder climates require lighter viscosity oil that will squirt immediately where it’s needed and not flow slower than molasses. Glycol (antifreeze) contamination migrating from the cooling system to engine oil is another concern.

Bummer number two is fuel contamination, and the damage that ethanol and stale gasoline produces when it lays dormant in a gas tank and induction system. The least amount of rust occurs in a dormant gas tank when it’s full. Adding a gasoline stabilizer ensures a full tank of gasoline will be good when it’s needed, not to mention the agony of avoided a stuck float due to varnish.

Not shown in photos, but there are several ways to lengthen the life of a car battery when it’s not in use. The cheapest but also the most inconvenient method is to disconnect the battery. If a courtesy light stays on and goes undetected, or there’s bad diode in the alternator, the battery is going to drain until it’s flat and in an un-rechargeable state. To keep the battery charged while a car is being stored, a product like Performance Distributors’ Battery Minder not only maintains a charge it has a desulphation pulse that keeps sulphation from occurring on the plates.

Also, whether your car will be driven or stored, the cooling system will need to be checked. If the car will be stored for the winter, it is a good idea to drain the coolant entirely. If it will be driven, make sure there is a sufficient mix of antifreeze, or your engine could freeze up, or boil over.

Lastly don’t forget storing your tires properly if the car is going to be sitting in one spot for an extended period of time. To avoid flat spotting the tires—an irreversible condition—put the car on jack stands or install a set of junk wheels and tires that still hold air.