TIP # 5
Winterizing your Classic Mustang
Whether your classic Mustang is a concours
restoration or a daily driver, winter poses a real threat of invasion from those
nasty gremlins, which take delight in wreaking havoc with your vehicle.
Gremlin colonies, if left unchecked, will eventually devastate even the finest
In order to stop the gremlins in their tracks, you must first understand a little
about how they think, and how they set up camp in your vehicle. Once the gremlins
set up their camp, they build nests and multiply until your vehicle is filled with
their destructive colonies.
At first gremlins keep a low profile, they are chameleons that can be difficult
to detect. They use their cunning for specialized covert operations and prey on the
car owners ignorance as they are generally under estimated. Fortunately for us, through
diligent maintenance, and preventative measures, their antics can be kept to a minimum.
Perform periodic surprise inspections, and prepare your vehicle from both time
and hostile elements which encourage the gremlins to thrive.
If yours is a daily driver, the best way to protect your car from harsh winter
weather is to keep it clean and dry as much as possible. Start by showing your car
that you care about it by washing it and checking for leaks in the interior and trunk
area. Leaks and dirt or road film are like a welcome mat for the lonely gremlin!
Seal leaky seams or install new weather strips as necessary. If you find water puddles
in your car but the source eludes you, a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle
can be used to create bubbles when compressed air is blown from the vicinity below,
and will generally pin point the leaks location. Apply a fresh coat of wax to protect
your finish. Consider investing in a orbital electric waxer/polisher, you will find
it to be a great time and labor saver, and it is less prone to leaving swirl marks.
Most orbitals are economically priced.
Clean and vacuum the trunk "drop off '' area and check the drain holes in
the lower quarter panel area. NEVER use this area for storage. Rags, boards, chains,
jacks, garbage or dirt accumulations can be conducive to rust and can put dents in
that area of the body.
During your inspection, should you find areas of rust or other signs of gremlin
activity, correct them. Rusted areas can be treated with a rust stabilizer product.
Rust stabilizer products work well by converting rust to a blackish carbon like material
that tastes bad to the gremlins. Many are available and can either be sprayed or
brushed on, and after it's cured, it can be directly painted over, follow the directions.
Colder weather equates to lessening of air pressure in the tires. Dilligent monitoring
and inflation to maintain proper pressures are a priority.
Give your car a complete lube job and inspect hoses and belts, and all the fluid
levels. Remove and rotate your tires, inspect the brakes and front suspension and
re-pack wheel bearings. Don't ignore any evidence of gremlins in your pursuit, it
will be sure to escalate before the sunny days of spring are once again upon us!
I like to change the oil and filter and if winters are harsh, use a thinner grade
of quality motor oil to reduce thickening and stress on the oil pump. Drain and flush
the cooling system and use the proper amount of fresh anti-freeze. Test or replace
your radiator cap. Check battery fluid and cables. Keep the top of your
Brake fluid by its very nature has the tendency to absorb moisture, which in
turn can destroy brake cylinders. Take a sample from each brake bleeder valve to
determine if you need to flush the entire system with fresh fluid.
After a long and dusty summer, the air filter should be ripe for changing, damp
weather causes dirt and paper to expand and reduce fuel mileage.
Lube all your door and hood hinges and latches with a fine oil ( I prefer trans.
fluid ). Products such as WD-40 don't seem to offer as long lasting protection as
3 In One Oil, or sewing machine oil. Put a couple of drops on your key and insert
in each lock to prevent corrosion.
Refer to your owners manual for more tips on winterizing.
If your car is forced to languish in the garage all winter, keep plenty of fuel
in the tank and use a fuel stabilizer. More fuel means less condensation can accumulate
on the fuel tank's interior. Rusting of the tank and contamination of fuel from water
vapors will be kept to a minimum.
Start your car at least every couple of weeks and drive a short distance to prevent
seals from drying out and to renew stagnate gas in the carburator and fuel lines,
this will disturb the gremlins destructive processes.
To reduce corrosion of the cooling system components, use distilled water with
your coolant, and consider using a radiator cap with a sacrificial anode.
If your Mustang has a clock, make sure the cars battery never runs completely
dead. The clock is powered by a spring that is rewound by a solenoid that is energized
when the spring pulls a set of contact points together. A battery that doesn't have
the capacity to operate this solenoid will cause these points to stick and burn the
solenoid's windings. To be safe, disconnect battery cable during long periods of
storage. Another option is to remove the clock's fuse located in the fuse box.
Save your battery by keeping an appropriate trickle charger in use. Try not to
let the gremlins figure out that your car is in storage so they cannot gain a foothold.