October 26, 2021

Classic Car Winterizing Checklist

It’s that time of year again… It’s starting to get chilly at night, the calendar is full of fall festivals and car shows but soon it’ll be time to put your classic in the garage for the winter and restlessly await the next spring.

What’s the best way to protect your classic for several months of cold, winter weather? Everyone has their own method and specific things they do. I asked the folks here at the shop that own classics for their tips, did my own research on the internet, gathered customer feedback and then combined them all into this handy checklist.


If you live in a warm weather climate like we do here in North Carolina, everyone agrees that they don’t do much to winterize so long as you store the vehicle indoors. They say to check the antifreeze, put stabilizer in the fuel, start it up once a week and drive it once a month. It doesn’t get below freezing here much and we only get snow once or twice a year so this is very doable.

If you live in a colder weather climate, it’s a much more serious affair and you need to winterize.

Official Winterizing Checklist:

  1. Wash and clean the vehicle- maybe even a new coat of wax. This will help you avoid any scratches from putting on and removing the car cover.
  2. Cover it up with a breathable soft fabric car cover.
  3. Fill your tank up with fuel- a full tank prevents moisture that will contaminate your fuel.
  4. Add a fuel stabilizer to extend the life of the fuel- especially important with today’s ethanol fuel. Be sure to run the vehicle enough to move the stabilizer into the carburetor, injectors, etc.
  5. Change the oil and the filter to reduce the risk of contaminants doing damage to your engine during this down time.
  6. Put containers of baking soda in the trunk, interior and under the hood to absorb moisture and odors
  7. Close all of the windows
  8. Store it inside in a place that’s dry and dark- preferably a concrete floor as it keeps moisture away from your vehicle.
  9. Put drip pans under the engine, transmission and differential to see if there is any accumulated leakage you’re unaware of.
  10. Start the car once per week and keep it running for at least 10 minutes to avoid leaving water in the combustion chamber and exhaust components.
  11. If you store your car offsite, call your insurance company to make sure your coverage is valid at the storage location.
  12. Either unhook the battery and store it separately where it will not freeze (avoid concrete floors) or leave it in the car and put a trickle charger on it.

If you store your vehicle outside, there may be a few other items you need to add to the list.

  1. Keep the car covered and dry at all times.
  2. Place a plastic barrier under your vehicle to keep the moisture at bay.
  3. Place carpet pieces or plywood underneath to keep the tires from sinking into the ground.
  4. If the vehicle will be exposed to freezing temperatures make sure to remove any personal belongings that will freeze and burst and make a mess.
  5. Put plastic bags on the air cleaner/air inlet and exhaust pipes to keep rodents out.

Above and beyond the call of duty (AKA Found on the internet): If you’re extra fanatical about your classic and are meticulous about maintenance, you might want to consider these:

  1. Put rubber snakes in and around the car to discourage mice. (Does anyone really do this?)
  2. Put the vehicle on jack stands and remove the tires/wheels. Place the jack stands under the vehicle at lower suspension points and not the frame/body so the suspension is not hanging.
  3. Put tires in a sealed, black trash bag to reduce rubber breakdown from sunlight.
  4. Put nitrogen in the tires to reduce the water absorption that occurs with compressed air.

In a short amount of time, you can prepare your classic for its long hibernation and she’ll be in great shape to show off when you bring her back out in the spring! Without preparation however, you can take the cover off to find a multitude of issues waiting for you.

Is there something you do to winterize your classic that didn’t make the list? Let us know your winterizing tips and tricks so we can share them with our readers too.

Steele not only has all the products you need but all the knowledge you need to get the job done right, too. If you have questions about Rubber Parts or Weatherstripping on your Classic Car, Truck, Hot Rod or even your boat, trailer or RV, feel free to reach out to us! You can call us at 800-650-4482, contact us through our website or comment on this post and we’ll get you answers as quickly as possible. Check out our YouTube channel for our full library of how-to/installation videos.

Steele Rubber Products, located in Denver, NC, is a manufacturer and seller of high-quality rubber parts and weatherstripping products for classic and vintage automobiles, hot rods, RVs and Boats. Steele offers more than 12,000 parts for cars and trucks as well as a large line of universal weatherstripping and rubber parts to be used on any project. Established in 1958, Steele is a trusted name in the automotive restoration industry. 

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