Classic Car Storage and Security

Your guide to everything from climate control to monitoring


AUGUST 20, 2021

classic-car desktop

As a car enthusiast, your baby may be a 1969 Chevelle, a 1978 Bandit-edition Trans Am, or a 1967 Shelby GT 500 (for you “Gone in 60 Seconds” fans). To ensure your peace of mind, set up your long-term, classic car storage space to adequately protect your Pontiac, Porsche, or other classic vehicle from theft and any environmental elements that could be hazardous to that sleek paint job or smooth-running engine.

Plan your space

Your car collection garage should provide a clean structure to store your vehicles, but it also needs to be ready to adequately care for and protect your investment. If you have multiple vintage or classic cars, you likely spend considerable time on upkeep, so you’ll want a space fully stocked with supplies or features, such as:

  • Distilled water to ensure no minerals or impurities spot your car’s paint or etch its clear coat.

  • An exhaust system, so you can crank your car monthly without opening the garage door and disrupting the relative humidity (RH) balance of your storage unit.

  • A car lift that allows you to easily work underneath your vehicle for tasks like oil changes or brake pad replacements.

  • Room to move your vehicle around so tires don’t deform from sitting too long.

  • A battery recharge station.

  • Supplies like wax, wash solution, oil, lubricants, tire pressure gauge, and a clean microfiber rag.

  • Adequate shelving or storage for supplies.

If you have limited square footage, consider installing hydraulic car lifts to take advantage of vertical storage space and maximize floor area, so you have plenty of room to enjoy working on your collector car. Building on or constructing a second garage may be ideal in the event you have more cars than space.

Prepare your car for storage

Caring for your vehicle requires more than pulling it into a garage for the winter or between joyrides. Even parking your ride for a month without cranking it or performing proper maintenance can do damage. Try these tips to prepare your car for its seasonal hibernation:

  • Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank to prevent hardening or clotting.

  • Change your car’s oil and oil filter to reduce premature rusting in the engine.

  • After adding fuel stabilizer and performing an oil change, drive your car a bit to work the stabilizer and new oil through your car’s system.

  • Before storing your car, make sure it has a full tank of gas to minimize space for moisture to collect and rust to form.

  • Remove the spark plugs.

  • Lubricate the cylinders.

  • Clean and wax your car before storage to rid your car’s surface of any dirt or dust, which can scratch the paint.

  • Wipe and wash the wheels.

  • Detail your car’s interior to ensure no dirt or crumbs attract pests and rodents or produce odors.

  • Place a box of baking soda inside your car to prevent musty smells.

  • Plug the exhaust with aluminum foil or steel wool to impede pests.

  • Lubricate hood, door, and trunk hinges to keep them operating smoothly.

  • Fill tires with air, and consider putting your car on jacks to relieve weight from the tires and suspension.

  • Remove the car’s battery, store it off the ground in a climate-controlled spot, and clean any corrosion from the battery terminal.

  • Tuck your baby in with a breathable cloth car cover. (Be sure not to use plastic as it will trap moisture, cause condensation, and encourage rust.)

Establish ideal atmospheric conditions

Maintaining a consistent, climate-controlled environment can significantly increase the health and sustainability of your machine. A heated environment won’t remove moisture in the air and prevent it from condensing on cars; however, an overly dry atmosphere creates a whole other set of issues. Stable, consistent conditions are best.

  • Store cars in temperatures below 70 degrees to deter mechanical and cosmetic damage, such as rust, musty interior odors, degraded rubber seals, tarnished chrome, and cracked leather and other surfaces.

  • Don’t open garage doors for extended periods as this can cause extreme temperature fluctuations that are hard on your vehicle.

  • Monitor your garage’s environment with a thermometer and humidity gauge. If the atmospheric conditions aren’t ideal, consider contacting an HVAC specialist, who can provide recommendations to maintain proper temperature and humidity.

  • Humidity should stay between 40% and 55% to discourage rusting of steel, which can increase rapidly with an RH of more than 60%. If humidity levels are high, consider investing in a dehumidifier to keep RH at a safe level.

  • For increased protection, select a reactive humidifier with built-in electronic hydrostats and thermostats that will protect against any sudden environmental changes like opening a garage door in rainy or humid weather or returning a vehicle to the garage after you drive your car.

Protect your investment

You can attend to your Aston Martin all you like; however, if your car is in an unprotected garage, your vehicle is vulnerable. Devices such as door sensors and locks with numeric keypads are a good foundation for garage security, while motion detectors can identify intruders within 30 feet. If your garage has windows, consider installing a wireless glass break sensor to scare away burglars and alert you of a breach. Add a wireless garage door tilt sensor that will inform you of any tilting or lifting of a garage door above a 45-degree angle. To round out your garage’s security system, install indoor and outdoor security cameras to keep an eye on your investments.

Burglars aren’t the only threat to your car. Install a smoke detector or fire alarm to alert you of emergencies, and consider adding a sprinkler system to your garage to protect against flames. You should also have a fire extinguisher handy, be aware of any extension cord fire hazards, and ensure you have optimal car insurance.

Personalize your garage

What’s a classic car garage without memorabilia? You’ve likely attended a car show or two and probably have some trophies to show off, so choose a display case for your awards as well as other treasures, such as vintage car books, magazines, or marketing collectibles. Decorate unused wall space with classic Esso or Texaco signs, or hang vehicle art or car-themed movie posters. If there’s room left on any shelves, you can also display your favorite model cars.

For more resources and products to keep your home, garage, and auto investment safe, visit the Brinks Home™ Smart Center.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others. 

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