Tech Tips:  Hibernating a Car

So you want to store your car away for a few months (or longer).  Can't you just park it in a garage and forget it?  No!!  Think about what happens to the tyres as they slowly deflate.  Think about the corrosive impurities gathered by the engine oil over a period of months.  The corrosive action of water in the cooling system.  Moist air in the fuel tank  The list goes on and on.
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From: Geoff Kirkpatrick [britcarnut(at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 5:51 PM
To: RoverNet Mailing List; hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Hi all,

This isn't Rover or Hillman-specific but is a general question applicable to all old cars!
I'm thinking about putting my 1985 Jaguar XJ6 into long-term hibernation.  It's been my daily driver for eight years and is now becoming an old car, with a number of old-car problems that need tending to; new exhaust, new AC compressor, front suspension work, new window seals, new paint, some minor dent repair are all needed.  I don't want to spend the money on it right now, but selling it is pointless as it's close to worthless on the open market despite being a perfectly sound and usable car, so I think I want to just park it in the garage for a while.  What kinds of things should I do to minimize its deterioration while out of service?  I can think of:

Should I do anything with regard to engine oil, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant?  Would it be helpful to coat the leather seats with something like Vaseline to help keep them from drying out?  Is there anything major I'm overlooking?

All suggestions are welcome.  And I should probably apply them to my hibernating Rovers and Hillmans as well!

Thanks –


"This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him."
- William Lyon Phelps

Geoff Kirkpatrick, 382 Riverside Avenue, Ben Lomond, CA 95005, USA

From: Adrian Higgs [adrian_higgs(at)hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 6:17 PM
To: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Hi Geoff

If it's going to stand for a long while I'd stick it on axle stands to take the weight off the wheel bearings.  Also brace the clitch pedal down with a length of wood or similar against some undamageable part of the driver's seat frame – stops the clitch plates rusting together.  If it's an auto, of course, not an issue.  Also (not sure about this) is the Jag has a hydraulic clutch it might be better to find a way of bracing the clutch operating lever (at the bellhousing) rather than using the pedal, so the seals aren't resting under pressure for months on end.

Um, what else, change all oils especially engine (corrosive pollutants nbuild up with use) and fill the engine to the brim (DO NOT RESTART TILL YOU'VE DRAINED IT AGAIN!)  Change coolant for clean with good quality corrosion inhibitor.  Ensure the garage is veintilated and leave the windows cracked open to allow the interior to ventilate.

Can't think of anything else and all this is subject to my disclaimer which runs along the lines of "I've never actually *done* this (apart from the bit about the clutch which I'm pretty sure doesn't apply anyway) so best not to trust a word of it"...



From: Adrian Higgs [adrian_higgs(at)hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 6:24 PM
To: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

One more thing just occurred to me - close off the exhaust(s?) (and any holes in it/them) and air cleaner intake to stop damp air circulating through the guts of the engine...

From: KKJ [kkj(at)privat.utfors.se]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 6:35 PM
To: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: SV: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.


About tires (and suspension) you said:
> – Pump the tires up to high pressure (45 PSI or so) so they don't flat-spot

Yes , go a step further:
Put it on stands ( it does have jacking points I suppose) and let the wheel and suspension just have a small load.

> – Put the battery on a trickle charger

Well, to use it in an other car would be the best option.

In an Jaguar engine with the alloy head it must be important to have good antifreeze with anti-corrosion agent.
There are bad quality and good quality antifreeze stuff.  Go for the best and not the cheapest.

Kristian J

From: Phillip Egan [phillipegan1(at)hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 10:15 PM
To: britcarnut(at)yahoo.com
Cc: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Hello Geoff

I suggest you start the car up at least once a week and maybe go around the block or at least up and down the drive , check the oil,water,brake fluid and tyre pressure.
Don,t let the battery go flat!
Give it a bit of a wipe every now and then so it does,nt feel neglected and the surface rust won,t set in.

Regards Phillip Egan

From: Ron Baker [rbaker(at)essex1.com]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 10:25 PM
To: Hillman List
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Rodents are a big problem around here so I put moth balls in the engine compartment, inside the car and in the trunk(boot).  You can put them loose in a tin to keep them from directly contacting the car or I buy the kind that come in a small vented plastic container designed to hang in the closet.  I don't know why mice don't like these, perhaps it irritates their little sinus', but it keeps them away!

From: Jan Eyerman [rootescollector(at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 5:47 AM
To: rbaker(at)essex1.com; Hillman List
Subject: "Hillman – " Off Topic–rodents

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Regarding rodents.....

"General Field Mouse" helped win the battle of Kursk for the Russians in WWII.  Prior to the battle, the Germans stored their tanks in fields during their build up.  While the tanks were thus parked, Russian field mice ate the cotton/rubber insulation off of the electrical wires, thus putting large numbers of German tanks out of action.

As a by the way, automotive wire used to have rubber insulation covered with cotton (which was color coded) prior to the more modern plastic insulated wire.

I am sure there is a moral to this somewhere!!!

Jan Eyerman
(Capt, USAR, ret)

From: Chuck and Cori Hillman [chillman(at)mint.net]
Sent: Thursday, 14 March 2002 5:44 PM
To: Geoff Kirkpatrick
Cc: Hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Putting car into hibernation

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Hi Goeff,
      I've done all the wrong things in storing cars (outside storage, inside storage on a dirt floor, etc).  I even had one of those prtable garage things collapse on 3 Hondas (with 2 feet of snow on top).  The pipes bent like crazy.  The Hillmans are in a barn with a concrete floor.  After all the problems I've had, I recommend a car cover, and starting the car as often as practical, and exercising the brakes, clutch, etc.
      It seems whatever you do can backfire, putting extra air in the tires can cause them to develop cracks quicker, fuel can spoil whatever you do (especially if the tank has previously had bad fuel), running the engine for a short time puts moisture into the exhaust system.
      Goeff, if your garage is dry at all, just parking it with some moth balls and cover it with some old sheets should take care of it.  Running it some every other month, and try to use up the old gas if it will be off the road for more than 6 months (even with stabul).  Run it dry and put in fresh fuel each 6 months.  Change the oil each year.
      I like the fuel tanks on our Hillmans, they are easy to drain.  I think leaving the fuel system dry could destroy the seals in the pump & carbs.  I learned something from my Old Cars Weekly, when trying to free a stuck engine, put hot, hot water in the block to cause the casting to expand so that solvent can break the rings loose.
happy motoring,

From: Jan Eyerman [jan.eyerman(at)usa.net]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 5:34 AM
To: Chuck and Cori Hillman; Geoff Kirkpatrick
Cc: Hillman@can-inc.com

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

In addition, I do a quick oil change just before I put the car away.  I use a good brand of oil-but buy 10W30 or 10W40 that I can get on sale (I normally run 20W50) and don't bother to change the oil filter.  The reason is that oil that has been used contains acids.  I run teh car for 5-10 minutes after the oil change to circulate the new stuff.

When I take the car out of storage, I replace the oil and the filter.


From: Brian Warmuth [warmuthb(at)wlsc.edu]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 3:49 AM
To: Geoff Kirkpatrick; hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: "Hillman – " Re: Putting car into storage

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Various techniques and suggestions abound regarding long term storage.  A major factor is whether or not the car will be driven at all, how long you anticipate storing it, and thirdly, WHERE it will be stored.  Obviously, what you ought to do really depend on these three factors.  So, if we assume your talking years... with no driving at all, in a dry, heated garage that's alot different than putting it up for 9 months, occasional start-ups/drives and an outside carport!!  The only things I have to add are to block off the exhaust and air cleaner inlet to keep mice from nesting and depositing things there.  Also, there is some debate as to keeping the tank completely full vs. having it bone dry.  I would probably fill it to the brim and use gas stabilizer if I was putting it up for a year.  If longer, before I store it, let the tank run to about 1/8 full then put in about a 1/2 pint of ATF or "Marvel Mystery Oil" in the tank and run the car till dry.  It will smoke a bit while this runs through! don't worry though, it will help keep the system free of rust.  Take the battery out of the car.  As to the leather, vent a couple of windows slightly 1/4" I would also use a good quality leather preservative/cream on all surfaces and leave it on.  I would think Vaseline would be a bear to ever get off the seats? (although you could eventually wipe it off with your clothes).
Mothballs everywhere are good practice as would be a good quality cloth car cover.  If you were going to leave it for greater than 1 year without driving, I'd jack it up and put it on stands.  Here's a site with some similar tips:



From: Jan Eyerman [jan.eyerman(at)usa.net]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 5:29 AM
To: Brian Warmuth; Geoff Kirkpatrick; hillman@can-inc.com

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

DO NOT put mothballs everywhere in side the car!  Put them in coffee cans with no lids.  The chemicals in moth balls might negatively react with your carpet, rubber mats etc.  I put a can on the front seat floor, back seat floor and in the trunk.  I also scatter them 360 degrees around the car on the floor of the garage (I don't care if they eat holes in the concrete!).

NEVER EVER "store" the car on a dirt floor.  Moisture comes up through the dirt and attacks the underside.  A friend of mine had a parking spot by his garage that was 1/2 paved-the front have was unpaved (dirt) and the rear half was paved.  Over a period of many years he noticed that only the front 1/2 of his cars rusted out-the rear half would be fine.  The cause was the dirt parking spot.

In the past when I had to "store" a car on dirt, I put down a plastic tarpuline under the car.


From: Brian Warmuth [warmuthb(at)wlsc.edu]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 3:54 AM
To: Geoff Kirkpatrick; hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: "Hillman – " Re: Storage

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

To All:

Here's another site which has some alternative information regarding long-term storage.

Of course, at this time of the year....I hope we're all looking to take our cars OUT of storage!! ;)
(northern hemisphere only!)


From: Larry [lcon(at)prodigy.net]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 3:02 AM
To: Hillman
Subject: "Hillman – " FINE TUNING

Brian's link is pretty thorough but:  My cars are in a garage in the desert that is not climate controlled and temps get as high as 130'F!
Consideration must always be given to "topping off" all/any fluid levels.
For cars after '93, computers in the cars are always on.  The new battery "tenders" are better than any charger.  These things "think" and will just keep a good battery "up".  Hillmanites just disconnect the battery and bring it in – sound familiar?  tip: Buy a good battery carrying strap – removing the battery is difficult enough!


From: Import Auto Supply [importautosbdo(at)juno.com]
Sent: Friday, 15 March 2002 5:53 AM
To: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Re: Storage

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

One of the biggest traps in the world is to think you can remember to drive a stored car every week or so and then it sits..and sits..
We see "garage queens" quite often; in fact, sometimes I think that we see more cars that are not driven enough in for service than daily drivers.  If you can't be sure you're going to drive it enough to keep stuff from deteriorating, you're probably better off pickling it completely.  The biggest problems we see are fuel deterioration, rubber turning into tar or bakelite, and rings rusting onto the cylinder walls.
Filling the engine up to the brim with oil is probably the best way of keeping the rings and bearings healthy, but it is kind of a pain to get it back out.  Putting some sort of light oil into the fuel tank is probably better than leaving gasoline in it (gas rots into something really ugly), Covering everything as airtight as possible helps.  Probably wouldn't be a bad idea to pull the computer out and store it someplace dry.  Not a bad idea to put it up on stands, take the tires off, and bag up the brakes and hubs.  Actually, the best thing probably is to fix it it it's reasonably repairable, and drive it!

From: Import Auto Supply [importautosbdo(at)juno.com]
Sent: Saturday, 16 March 2002 4:13 AM
To: hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: "Hillman – " Storing cars

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Another thought on stored cars: a good radiator stopleak should help protect the insides of the cooling system from deterioration.  Some of the chemical companies also sell stop-rust stuff.  For aluminum engines, we normally use Mercedes or VW spec antifreeze.  It's about twice the cost of cheap stuff, but it is still very reasonable protection.

From: TIGEROOTES(at)aol.com
Sent: Saturday, 16 March 2002 4:35 AM
To: importautosbdo(at)juno.com; hillman@can-inc.com
Subject: Re: "Hillman – " Storing cars

This message forwarded by the Hillman List.

Did you know radiator stop-leak behaves like cholesterol in your blood vessels?  It coats everything and compromises the ability for a cooling system to exchange heat.  A cooling system stabilizer like "Liquid Perry" would be a better choice: truckers regularly get over 500,000 miles on their aluminum radiators using that product.

Jim Leach     Pacific Tiger Club     Seattle

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