The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Maintenance: Tucking you Volvo in for a Long Winters Nap

2019-01-10 - ipd Staff

By Lee Holman aka VOLVOGIRL:

Disclaimer: Direct from ipd’s Tech Tip archive!  This tech tip contains information from previous publications.  Products mentioned may not be available or the information may not be accurate due to changes in supply, manufacturing, or part number association.  Please contact ipd Customer Support if you have further questions.

While many of us are starting to think about preparing our cars for winter driving, this is also the time of year that owners of older classic Volvos think about planning for winter storage. In northern climates, road salt and moisture wreak havoc on bodywork and slippery road conditions increase the odds of having an acci-dent. It is well worthwhile to put your favorite car in storage for the duration. Here are some of the things you can do to make sure your car comes through the winter no worse for wear. Needless to say, it is best to have the car under cover of some sort. The worst option is probably leaving it outdoors parked over grass. A barn or building with a solid wooden floor is probably the best option. Concrete floors exude moisture from the ground and can encourage the demon rust in it's evil plans to attack your car. Try to find a facility that is going to be dry and free from rodents and other pests (the two-legged kind comes to mind).

Even if you have access to indoor storage, you will probably want to use a car cover to keep the finish clean and free from dust and scratches. This will make getting the car ready for the road that much easier in the spring. Be sure you have enough anti-freeze in the cooling system to prevent the coolant from freezing. Run the car with the heater on long enough to get the coolant all the way through the heater core. Volvo recommends a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Don't forget windshield washer anti-freeze, as well. Run the washer until the solution is throughout the system if you have been using water. Adding the prescribed amount of fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas is probably the best way to care for the fuel system. This will prevent the gas from aging in the tank and fuel lines and forming a varnish that can gum up the fuel system. If the tank is full there will be less chance for condensation to form when the temperature fluctuates.

I put my car away for the winter with a fresh oil change. This way I can be sure there is no moisture in the oil or combustion by-products that could cause corrosion. I use the regular summer weight oil, since I know I won't start the car until I go retrieve it in the spring. If you will need to start it in very cold weather, consider changing to winter weight oil before you put it away.

Some people like to put a car up on jackstands for prolonged storage. This will prevent the tires from forming a flat spot. If the car needs to be moved at all, you might want to store it with a spare set of wheels with old tires on them.

It is recommended that you remove the battery as well, and keep it in a place that will remain above freezing. Try to keep it charged with a trickle charger once a month or so.

Another thing to consider is bleeding the brakes. Old brake fluid holds moisture that can cause brake pis-tons to seize and master cylinders to fail. Now is a good time to take care of this, as you will want your brakes to be in good order in the spring. Park the car on a level surface and leave it in gear or in park, but don't set the hand brake. This will ensure that the cables and brake mechanisms will not seize up from disuse.

Don't forget that your auto insurance needs change when your car is in storage. If you take your car off the road, you may be in for a substantial discount during that time. Depending on your car and your needs, you may want to have comprehensive coverage. For others, fire and theft coverage is sufficient. Check with your insurance company for options.

Planning ahead to get your old Volvo ready for storage can really help when the day finally comes to put it up for the winter. Once it is tucked away, you can breathe a sigh of relief and relax knowing that it will pass the winter safely. Then we can think about other things, like perhaps shopping for snow tires...