Author Topic: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car  (Read 2864 times)

michaeld

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Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« on: 21 October 2006, 07:29 PM »
Some of you have several cars, and have one or two in long-term storage situations.

I came across a good article and thought I'd post some tips from it ("Big Cover Up: Storing a car takes a few steps for proper preservation" by Catrina Coghill of Wheelbase Communications).  I couldn't find it online, so I'll just give the nitty gritty.

1) Don't cover a car left outdoors for long periods, because the wind whipping across the cover "literally saws the paint off like sandpaper").  If you HAVE to cover it, wrap it tightly to minimize friction.

2) Moisture can be a killer.  Don't seal a car in plastic, or you will have a mold problem because damp air won't be able to escape.

3) Particularly if the floor is dirt or gravel, but even if it is concrete, it is a good idea to place plywood or plastic underneath because condensation can carry lime onto the undercarriage and attack the metal.

4) Rats/mice can be a big problem even for indoor storage.  If they get inside, they will urinate, defecate, and even die in the car.  Keep food from the car; and scatter mothballs underneath.  One other solution is to lay down a big piece of vapor paper, drive onto it, and then pull it up around the car like a diaper.  Slam it under the doors and entrap it under the trunk and hood.  That way you can keep rodents out, but still crack the windows 1/4" to provide air circulation.  You WANT air circulation.

5) Don't "block" the car to take the weight off the suspension/tires; it actually exposes unprotected metal and stretches the springs.  Radial tires shouldn't develop flat spots anyway.  Let the car support its own weight, which is what it was designed to do.

6) Change the oil before storing the car to remove contaminants.  DON'T start the car every month or so, because the engine warming up (but not being freeway driven) allows condensation to build up in the crankcase.  And moisture creates sulfuric acid, which corrodes your engine.  Since the car is sitting there, the engine can't evaporate the moisture.

oscar

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #1 on: 21 October 2006, 09:57 PM »
Well there's a couple of myths busted. 

On the premise that I'll get another 116 and sideline the 350 whilst it undergoes some serious work, I intended to ask a similar question on storage.  I've been amazed to hear comments about rings rusting and burning oil after the engine is dormant for a lengthy period and how basically these cars need to be driven.  Big Richards 6.9 for example.

I thought turning over the engine was a must to lubricate/pressurise seals, rings, bearings etc.  The loose cover v's tight wrap was another point where I thought loose was better.  Indoors I suppose it's ok but the sandpaper effect makes sense. 

The engine and drivetrain would be my major concern but what about the A/C or climate control. An old wive's tale says that the A/C is to be operated once a week in winter to stop seals from drying out.  I'd be keen to hear any further thoughts on the whole aspect of storage.

PS, don't know the authenticity of this little tale, but there's a story of 5 WWII fighters which may have been mustangs that were placed in an Aussie desert in the 50's and exposed to the British/Aussie nuclear tests at Maralinga.  Rumor has it that 20-30 years later maybe more, one plane was intact, fuel was changed, and the plane flew out. Hmmm.  I'm going to have to look into that one.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

Tomi

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #2 on: 22 October 2006, 12:21 PM »
hi micheal,

very good tips, I usually follow very similar procedures. Its good to use plastic under the car (no matter what the ground is) which is  cut just to  the size of the car, not more as it might collect external water from vertical rain. I store the w116 in outdoor sheltered place, the 107 is inside but which is not heated. A good ventilation is the key, both external and internal of the car (also in heated conditions).
Another addition would be to take the battery negative cable out and to charge it every other month during the winter.
« Last Edit: 22 October 2006, 02:33 PM by Tomi »
MB 450 SEL -80 (oldtimer for the class)
MB E220T -95 (daily driver)
MB 230E -82 (a present for my son)

michaeld

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #3 on: 22 October 2006, 07:31 PM »
The engine and drivetrain would be my major concern but what about the A/C or climate control. An old wive's tale says that the A/C is to be operated once a week in winter to stop seals from drying out.  I'd be keen to hear any further thoughts on the whole aspect of storage.

I have always believed that it is better to periodically run an engine in order to best protect it.  My sense from the article is that the author and experts cited might well agree with this: but only if the engine allowed to fully run in such a way that it burns out all the condensation vapors.  To be honest with you, I don't know whether idling an engine would be sufficient to do this or not.  One possibility would be to pick a date on the calender (on cars w/ a running engine, obviously) to "take her for a drive" every month, or every six weeks, and then wrap her up again.

Another idea comes to mind reading about A/C concerns.  This is what my mom/dad always taught me growing up, and which I continue to follow: whenever you run your A/C (on any car, whether you are about to store it or not), turn off the compressor and run the fan by itself for a couple of minutes before shutting the car down.  Why?  Because the A/C is building up condensation, and you don't want that moisture left sitting in the system.  Running the fan alone allows the system to "dry out" and eliminate chances of mold building up in some unreachable nether region of the system.  I'm not positive that this is the best way to go - as it comes from parents rather than from master mechanics - but it makes sense to me, so I've always done it.

I've got my 450SEL garaged now, but I was using a car cover for several months, and I cringed when I read that part about the "sandpaper" effect!

I've never actually had an extra car that I cared enough about to truly go to the trouble of storing properly, but I know that some of you do.  Since joining this forum, I've always had an eye open for information that would be of a benefit to other members.
Mike

s class

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #4 on: 23 October 2006, 11:01 AM »
I like the idea of scheduling drives on a calendar.  I know it sounds daft but I know from experience.  I have 4 cars and the one especially is difficult to get out of the garage (its parked in by other cars)  its sooo easy to say, aargh, I'm lazy now, I'll get it out next week, and before you know it its been 6 months. 

Ryan

'76 6.9 Euro, '78 6.9 AMG, '80 280SE, '74 350SE, '82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro , '81 500SL

michaeld

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #5 on: 25 October 2006, 08:51 PM »
First of all, when I contributed this post, I was actually thinking about s class (to the extent that I first thought about writing something like, "... but some of you have several cars (I won't mention any names ... s class!"). ;D 

Second, I also wanted to add that one idea to help save the tires was to use jackstands - placed under the suspension axles - to keep the weight on the suspension but off of the tires.

Third, when driving cars that are essentially being stored, the car should be allowed to get to full operating temperature and driven at higher speed.  A trip to the local grocery store won't do the job.  As for how often, it might be "as often as I can stand to go to the trouble of getting the car out of storage."  Maybe once a month; maybe once every six weeks.  I'm no expert here, but I would also think that it would be a good idea to keep a small amount of gas in the tank, such that it routinely circulates through the system.

s class

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Re: Tips on Storing & Preserving a Car
« Reply #6 on: 26 October 2006, 01:54 AM »
Michaeld,

I agree with the sentiments about type of usage.  My W140 is my daily driver, and the W116 is the backup daily driver for the times the W140 is on stands (actually quite frequent).  The Ford and R107 hardly ever come out, but when they do, its usually on a Sunday, and I will drive about 100km on the highway before parking again. 

Ryan

'76 6.9 Euro, '78 6.9 AMG, '80 280SE, '74 350SE, '82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro , '81 500SL