Quiller Triumph - Winter Storage

Unit 1, White Hart Road, Plumstead, Woolwich  London. SE18 1DF

Tel: 0208 854 4777 Fax: 0208 854 2404   Email: info@quillertriumph.co.uk

Winter Storage Advice 

 

Around this time of year we frequently get asked our advice on Winter Storage; here it is:  

Should I store my car over winter? This is a question that only you can answer. Cars are generally better used rather than left idle, however driving on salty roads is the one thing that will cause the bodywork to deteriorate rapidly. While some people decide to lay their car up, others have not so much made a conscious decision to store their car, they just happened not to have used it for several months (particularly the case with convertibles over the winter months). The effect is the same in either case and it is worthwhile taking a few precautions.

There are no hard and fast rules concerning storage of your Triumph, but these are the sort of precautions we advise if you are planning to hibernate your car for a few months or longer:

Location: The ideal place is under a car cover in a heated brick built garage with air conditioning, failing this under a cover in the more usual cold damp garage is better than outdoors. Again use a cover, and also use a cover if you do have to store your car outdoors - use a purpose made cover, never use a tarpaulin, polythene, or anything that does not allow the car to breathe

Give the car a good valet inside & out. (see here for a copy of the instructions "how to valet a car" we give to our trainees). Old take away wrappers etc do not usually enhance the interior bouquet, and any stains on the paint will have become stubborn stains in a couple of months if not removed.

Ideally take the car for a 5 mile run to evaporate the moisture from the engine & exhaust - exhausts usually rust from inside outwards.

Close the windows to help prevent rodents making your Triumph a temporary home, and put up the hood on a convertible as otherwise the ensuing creases can be difficult to remove when you come back to the car.

If your engine bay is pretty (eg with chrome filters, rocker box etc) then spray a can of WD40 or similar over all bright metal surfaces, this is easily removed later with a standard degreasing product or even soapy water.

Engine: We have seen "Storage Oil" for sale but we've never used it and don't know what exactly it is supposed to do. However it is a good idea to replace the oil when you come back to the car if it has been stored 6 months or more. When you do first start the engine after storage then disconnect the LT lead or king lead to prevent ignition and turn the starter over for 30 seconds to get the oil pumped all over the engine before reconnecting the lead and starting as normal. We have easily started Triumph OHV engines with a change of ignition components and fresh oil that haven't been run for 5 years or more with no ill effects many times, OHC engines are a different matter. If you are going to store the car for a long time then tape over the air intakes, exhaust pipe & rocker / cam cover breather. Regap the points (remove the rust from the mating surfaces) if the car has been left in the damp on reuse.

Cooling: Make sure a mix of at least 25% good quality antifreeze is used in OHV cars and 50% in OHC cars (very important with Stag / Sprint / 1850 / TR7)

Fuel: Fuel tends to have a "use by" date. We have noticed that this seems to differ from brand to brand and the old 4* lasted much longer than unleaded seems to. The fuel oxidises and loses its octane rating. If the car has been stored 6 months or more it is probably worth draining the old fuel out if the car seems to be running poorly once you have checked everything else.

Clutch: This can cause big trouble when left unused for a while. The hydraulic seals in the cylinders tend to dry out & perish causing leaks, and the friction plate can become seized to the flywheel. Ideally operate the pedal every few weeks and leave the box in neutral. If the friction plate does seize up then sometimes it can be freed off by attempting to start the car in first gear, otherwise it must be physically unseized by hand.

Brakes: Same potential hydraulic problems as above. Sometimes the pad backings can stick to the calipers, but are usually free themselves off  after a quick drive. If the car is left a long while it may be worth backing off the adjusters on the rear drums to stop the shoes sticking, as if this happens they don't unseize themselves. Store with handbrake off.

Battery: It is probably worth removing the battery if storing the car over winter in the cold. Batteries generally don't like freezing conditions, and we have known battery casings to crack spilling sulphuric acid onto the tray. In any event once a battery has fully run down (even the timeclock in Stags etc will cause the battery to run down in cold conditions after 3 months) Once a battery has been fully discharged it is never quite as good ever again following recharging.

Tyres: Some people put the cars up on stands to prevent potential "flat spots" in the tyres, probably worth doing if you've got expensive tyres of a "soft" brand eg Yokohama, Toyo. It is a matter of disagreement in this workshop whether the flatspots go away once the car is driven a little, but we've definitely seen obvious flatspots on the tyres of cars that have been stored for several years.

Body: To prevent paint oxidation (either outdoors or indoors) the car should be covered with a soft purpose designed cover (we sell a good one, see here). Tarpaulins and polythene are definitely not suitable. If the car is in a busy traffic area (eg the family garage) then put some additional protection eg dismantled cardboard boxes on top. Encourage people not to brush against the car especially if they are wearing jeans with rivets. As bonnets and bootlids often get used as temporary tables (for unloading shopping etc) then put a blanket on top of these.

Interior: Make sure the car is valeted thoroughly as discussed previously. If a convertible then try to ensure the carpets are as dry as possible otherwise mould will tend to develop, although this is not as difficult to remove (with cleaning agents designed for the job) as many people seem to think. If you are lucky enough to have a dehumidified heated garage, then set the temperature a little below room temperature so as not to dry out & crack the dashtop panel and seat coverings. If you have recovered your seats in leather then use some hide food or beeswax before & after storage.

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