Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: West Rutland, Vermont, USA
Depends on how thorough you want to be. Heck, cars sit on dealers lots for MONTHS before getting sold but sometimes the extra "love" helps in the long run....
Since your garage is NOT climate controlled, loosen the drain plug and drain off about a quart of fuel to remove any water (make sure the car isn't moved or jiggled for an hour before you do this), add the appropriate amount of Sta-Bil to the fuel tank and top it off as full as you can get it. In the spring loosen the drain plug again to drain off any water that has collected.
Lubricate ALL pivot points that you can find with white lithium grease. Hinges, latches, antenna masts, cables and linkages, etc. Grease all zerks and pump the tie rod ends and any other joints with "floating" boots until clean grease comes out from the boot.
Start the engine and run to operating temperature. Check automatic transmission fluid and top off, if necessary. Grab a quart of Marvel Mystery Oil and use half of it to "fog" the motor to a stall, drain the crankcase thoroughly and refill with fresh oil and the remainder of the MMO. Prefill a fresh oil filter and install.
Make sure the battery is fully charged, then top off the cells with distilled water to within 1/2" of the fill hole. Remove and clean the battery top, sides and bottom with a solution of water and baking soda. You should also clean the tray and the area below it with a water and baking soda solution. Clean the battery posts and cable ends. If any corrosion is present, clean with a water/baking soda paste and a stiff brush. Apply a battery anti-corrosion washer to each post (DO NOT USE GREASE). It would be better to store the battery in a cool (not cold) dry place and use a battery tender, but I have left them in the vehicle for many winters without a problem as long as they are fully charged and disconnected throughout the winter. Do not re-install the hold-down until spring in case the battery needs to be removed in an emergency. Now is a good time to go around and clean/check all your electrical connections. Get some bulb grease for the bulb bases and sockets, you can use this or dielectric grease on plugs, solenoid, etc.
Check the coolant level and condition. Make sure it will protect to at least 10* colder than the anticipated lowest temperature you expect. If it needs to be topped off, use a 50/50 premix of antifreeze and distilled water. Check the radiator cap, especially the condition of the anode. Replace if necessary. Remove any bugs & debris from the radiator with a small brush, straighten any bent fins. Some "bug and tar" remover can help.
Grab a heavy duty lawn & leaf bag and put the air cleaner assembly inside, then install it on the engine letting the carburetor stud poke a hole in it, secure the wing nut, then tie up the bag over the top to keep any crap from entering. Stick some dryer sheets or mothballs inside to keep rodents out. Using duct or masking tape, tape some quart-sized Ziplok freezer bags over the exhaust tips. If you have an open breather and/or draft tube, bag it as well. This will keep outside air from entering the engine.
Drain and refill your windshield washer bag/reservoir and let it sit empty. Disconnect the hose from the motor, or pump the foot pump dry to let any water drain from there.
Wash the car and apply a good coat of wax to the paint and stainless. I always used some Vaseline on my chrome pieces but I suppose any petroleum-based viscous product will work. Clean the interior and apply a high quality vinyl protectant (I use Mothers) to the seats, dash pad, etc., and thoroughly vacuum (Don't wash or steam clean) the carpet. Lay some dryer sheets/mothballs around the interior, especially under the seats and get a couple cans of moisture absorbent and place 1 in the front, one in the back. Make sure all the tires are inflated to their maximum and apply a tire protectant. If there is exposure to outside light I might also bag each tire with a lawn & leaf bag. I never had too much of a problem leaving the weight on the suspension for storage of 4-5 months so I don't think there is any value in raising the wheels off the ground, unless the garage has a dirt or gravel floor and then a piece of vinyl tile under each tire should suffice.
Cover with a good quality car cover or lacking that a soft cotton sheet to keep dust, dirt and "stuff" off the car and to keep light out of the interior. If you expect leaks in the roof then use something that will allow the moisture to roll off. Setting up a 10 x 20 portable canopy at 1/2 height over the car might not be a bad idea.....
I don't think I forgot anything but someone will comment.
Under NO circumstances should the car be run until it's ready to be put back on the road. Each time you start it you contaminate the oil and cylinders with combustion byproducts and moisture which can form acids that cause internal corrosion and sludge.
PS: I almost forgot.... if you're car is a vert, store it with the top up and cleaned and a quality top protectant applied.
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Last edited by bartl; 11-04-2012 at 11:22 PM.