It's hard to put your pride and joy into winter storage. You know how it goes—you spend all winter waiting to drive it, and then it's winter again before you know it. But winter car storage doesn't have to mean total separation.
In fact, winter's a great time to catch up on all the little projects you haven't found the time for yet. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. PAINTLESS DENT REMOVAL
Since your car's sitting around all day anyway, why not do an inventory of all the dings and dents on the door and body panels, then have your local dent specialist come by and pop them out? If you take action now, a few hundred bucks at the most will buy you a ding-free car in the spring.
2. FULL HAND WASH AND POLISH
When it's time to store the car, hose it down in the driveway to get the surface dirt off, and then roll up your sleeves and get down to business. All you need is a jug of car wash solution, a nice big sponge and some elbow grease. Try to make it cleaner than it was on the first day of spring. Then wipe all the moisture off with a microfiber cloth to avoid streaks and water spots. For the grand finale, go over your car with some polish. A whole winter is a long time for a car to sit still; put it into storage looking good as new.
Pro Tip: Consider a one-step sealant to help prevent rust.
3. CLEAN AND DEODORIZE INTERIOR
There are countless approaches to cleaning your car's interior, but when it's time for winter storage, focus on two aspects: upholstery and odors. For upholstery, start with leather cleaning spray if you have leather seats. Let it dry for an hour, and then finish with plenty of conditioner. If you do that every year, your leather should be good as new. As for odors, look, even if you're careful about keeping food out of the car, things just start smelling musty over time. You can get in front of this problem by treating your interior with odor eliminator.
Pro Tip: Place a few dryer sheets in the cabin, and under the hood. This helps prevent mice from making their way into your car or engine bay and building nests over the winter.
4. CHECK YOUR COOLING SYSTEM
Check your vehicle's antifreeze to make sure it protects against even the coldest evenings. To help with this, pick up an antifreeze tester to ensure that your car's cooling system does not freeze solid. A cheap antifreeze tester may be the key to a smooth ride next spring.
5. FIX WHAT NEEDS FIXING (AND MAYBE SOME OTHER STUFF, TOO)
Last but definitely not least, winter is the perfect time to bust out your tool kit and get your hands dirty. Think about all the time you're saving by not getting behind the wheel—and devote a few of those hours here and there to DIY projects of your choosing.
For instance, a lot of folks might put off replacing their spark plugs because the car's running fine, but why wait for it to start getting rough? For those of you who have room to get a floor jack under there and raise your car up, there's a bunch of sensible preventive maintenance you can do under your car, including fuel-filter replacement and re-torquing all your suspension bolts.
For the upholstery repair, you're gonna have to be handy with a sewing machine, but it's not a terribly difficult job if you've got the time. If you have to remove the seat covers for re-stitching, plan on refreshing the foam underneath. If you've got rips, you've also got cushion compression.
MAKE IT SHINE
As for chrome upkeep, whether you're talking about wheels, bumpers and tailpipes or headers under the hood, you're gonna want a bottle of detailer.
Pro Tip: At the end of the day, you know better than anyone what kind of mechanical TLC your car could use this winter, and now's the time to do those repairs you've been putting off. Our suggestion? Make a list of priorities, and check 'em off one by one until it's driving season again. Your future self will thank you next year when the car's performing better than ever.