How To Properly Store An Imperial


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Tip from Chip:


I just got a couple of the "Carcoon" car bubbles and they are great. First you lay the floor piece down on your garage floor and then drive on it. Then you place the bubble over the car and zip it all around the floor piece, then plug in the attached fan and your car is enclosed in a plastic see thru bubble, the fan has a filter to keep out the dust and the car stays clean and dry without having a cover sitting on the paint. The whole process of getting in and out is 10 minutes. Then if the bubble gets dusty you blow it off with a leaf blower. The fan runs on a transformer and uses 110 volt. I have five convertibles and I am getting one for all. 

Question from Clay:

I am putting my car into winter storage.  Any tips??


From William:

A trick I always use when it comes storage time is to pour a cup full of motor oil down the carburetor while the engine is running, then turn it off just as you begin to see the blue smoke come out the tailpipe. This insures that the tops of the cylinders and pistons, and combustion chamber will have a thin coat of oil to protect it from the wonders of rust and corrosion. It's worked very well for me so far.).

From Elijah:

I'd suggest a few moth balls scattered about under the hood in the engine compartment area. I don't know where you live, but here in my beloved South, we have a serious problem with squirrels who like to tear hood pads for nesting material and gnaw on spark plug wires, heater hoses, and damn near anything else they can chew through. Moth balls will keep out mice and other rodents as well. You've never really experienced a fun drive until you've had a mouse expire somewhere in the bowels of your floor vent, causing you to drive around on cold February days with all your widows rolled down!

From Bob:

If the car will be stored on a dirt floor, as in a barn, put a large heavy plastic drop cloth (ground cloth) down. This will keep the moisture in the soil from evaporating and condensing on the bottom of your car during temp. changes. If you are not going to use a good quality weather proof car cover use a plastic drop cloth over your cloth cover. Put bag of moisture absorber (the real name of this stuff escapes me at the moment) inside the car interior and the trunk.  Water, in all its forms and animals will be your main concerns.

From Dan:

What are your motivations for this? Do you HAVE to do it? The reason I ask is that a farm is just about one of the WORST places to store a car. You will spend weeks and maybe months chasing out all the bugs, rodents, etc....not to mention replacing chewed up wiring and upholstery. If you must, make sure you fill up the gas tank to prevent corrosion, buy a bottle of gasoline preservative and run the car long enough to get it through the whole fuel system. Might want to jack the car up off the ground using the suspension as jacking points (don't let the wheels hang down.) put a pan of vinegar and one of charcoal inside to keep mildew and smells to a minimum, changing it out every few weeks. Buy a automatic battery charger if possible to keep the battery up. Plug up the air cleaner and exhaust pipe to keep nests from being built there. I think you might ought to put a few squirts of engine oil into each cylinder, but I'm not sure about that or not.  

Question from James:

How often should I start my car (1976 NYB) while its in storage for winter? I was considering doing it when it gets a little warmer (right now its about -28C here)


From Steve:

I would start it weekly. Run it through the gears and press the brakes a couple of times. If you can let it run long enough to get up to temperature so that water vapor doesn't collect in the engine or exhaust system.

From Chris:

A car needs more than starting. A good run up to highway speed every 4 weeks should be enough to keep most parts well-lubed (you don't want seals drying out) and the battery charged. Operate the parking brake on and off a few times to keep it from seizing and to allow the rear brakes to self-adjust. Run the A/C at full-blast for 5-10 minutes every time, and drive it gently. And change the oil every six months, and the brake fluid and coolant every two years.

Question from Adrian:

What is the best method of outdoor storage? Should I buy an all weather car cover? Will this protect the car or just trap moisture?  What about a barn??


From Ken:

I have several cars that I have to store outside in the winter as I can only get four in the garage, so only those with good paint jobs get to stay inside. (actually three plus the "MoBoat") I live in Eastern Washington State. I have found through trial&error that it's the moisture evaporating off the ground that seems to really get into the cars, so I get them as far off the ground as possible, I jack them up and then put them on blocks. The more the air that can circulate underneath the car the better. Someone recently told me to put a bucket of lye inside the car, but I've never tried that, but there are products for that purpose you can buy that absorb moisture. (and electrical devices) I then tarp my cars with a brand-new plastic tarp at least, but two is better. I spare no twine tying them down, and usually crack a window just a bit. That seems to allow some moisture out. I try to keep the snow shoveled off them as much as possible. On cars with chrome goodies on the engine and headers, etc., I spray the engine with WD-40, it's eaiser to clean up in the spring than rust or the corrosion that develops on aluminum. Also on engines, other IMLers gave some good advice on running the engine one last time, and then pouring some oil down the carburetor until the engine dies so that the cylinders would be protected. I've never done that but will start this winter. As far as prepping the fuel system, I've never done this as my storage season is only three to four months, so I've never really had any problem. I had one car that sat for a couple of months plus the four winter months, and it did get water in the tank, but a fill-up and some gas treatment fixed that. I'm sure someone else could elaborate on fuel system prep. If you can afford a quality car cover that's the way to go. The ultimate to my mind would be to put a "real" cover on the car, then if you could somehow run a rope/cord/line lengthwise over the car, about two feet above the roof, (like between two trees) you cold drape a plastic tarp over that, the real cover could still breathe, but the tarp would keep off the majority of the rain and snow. With a good cover be sure to keep the snow shoveled off, as it can't breathe well with ice and snow on it.  

From Clay:

I think its money well spent to find storage inside a building. Prices around here (Minnesota) run $100-$150 for the season. Its worth it to me to keep the elements off the car.

From George:

If you have to park outside: 

a. the car cover makes great sense, in fact even if you store your car inside. Cover Craft, Sears automotive etc. sell custom fit covers at reasonable prices, and they do make them to fit (although it took them 2 tries to get a '65 Cad F75 right). 

b. if you park off the street, and your neighbors don't howl you can 'make' your own garage 3/4" PVC pipe and LARGE tarps with trucker bungee cords will make a protective shelter that will allow air circulation and will cost ~$175-$200 max. it is reusable, and only takes about an hour to make (I call this my southern hail warning shelter...I have put one up in less than 30 min. that covered 3/4 of a suburban driveway). I learned this 'trick' courtesy of the USN.  It's best if you do this on concrete or blacktop. The ground always will seep moisture/higher humidity.

Question from??:

In Michigan where I live, it's time to put the cars away for the season. I have a '57 4 door sedan with on 25,000 original miles and in very good condition. All but a very few pieces of the original rubber seals etc are excellent and there is no rust except for a thin rust color on the underbody/floorpan. I believe it was stored in a heated controlled place before I got it. Now I must store it in an uninsinuated and unheated stand alone garage. What reasonable measures might be taken to protect the car from moisture and rust? 

>Seal the concrete floor? 

>Use a plastic storage "bag" as sold by some of the cataloge's? 

>Coat the underbody with something; oil, rustproofing?




From Loren:


Make sure your garage is vented. Moisture vapor trapped in an enclosed building will condense on cold metal and cause rust.

I keep my '64 in an enclosed garage with the windows slightly open. Have had no additional rust since I bought it in 1998 on either the interior or exterior.

You need to have fresh air inlets for the garage lower than the high level vents for the roof. If there is a ceiling in your garage, the enclosed area where you park your car need not be vented but the roof frame or attic space above the ceiling must be vented.

Building codes for the Northwest require one square foot of free vent area for each three hundred square feet of attic floor area. One half must be high, one half low.

I inspect houses for people when they buy them. Lack of proper venting is one of the most common problems we encounter in garages where people incorrectly assume the garage area does not need to be vented like living space.

From Jim:


In my outside car storage, I have found the use of Sileca gel (?) packets to reduce the incidence of mildew & other damage. Forgive me for not remembering the proper name. The product is used in over seas shipping of electronic parts & we used to use "dummy" spark plugs filled with the crystals, for engines in storage. I was satisfied with the results


From Brad:

Even though your garage isn't climate controlled, I don't think it will be a big deal moisture-wise in Michigan. There's not going to be standing water in the garage anywhere is there; leaks? The dew point would have to rise to a point where the concrete would sweat, and I don't "think" that's going to be an issue after the temps drop below 40 for good this winter.

I use a cheap solution to this concern that may be of use to you. I bought two big bags of the cheapest clay-type kitty litter at Walmart (the same type works well for taking oil and grease off of the garage floor), and two plastic storage boxes (appx. 24X30X6); the kind you put sweaters in. Dump the bags of kitty litter in the two lid-off boxes; put one in the trunk, one under the elevated (on jack stands) car. The kitty litter will soak up any ambient moisture in the trunk and the one under the car will try its best to do the same.

Total $ for "Moisture-Blocker Storage Solution".......under $20; and it's all recyclable as "speedy-dry" next spring!

But, unless the temps go up and down constantly below and above freezing, you shouldn't get THAT much moisture.

From Tony:


I would seriously consider getting a Battery Tender. It is an excellent investment!


From Phil:


Don't forget a container of mothballs for the interior and rodent traps outside the vehicle.


From Brad H:


Some motorcyclists polish chrome with PledgeŽ before storing their bike for the winter. Helps stop those nasty chrome pits from developing. Works for me.


From David:

I have understood it is important to cover the exhaust (I stuffed steel wool and then wrapped with aluminum foil) and air intake to keep out both moisture and mice.

From Mike:

I keep my boats and cars in a barn with little or no insulation, lots of free air flow and it seems to work good... Last winter my good Imp spent the winter outside with no protection and it worked out good also.. Here where I live in Michigan it's the salt on the roads that cause rust, not the snow...

This page last updated February 4, 2003.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club