Even the most beautiful classic car season comes to an end at some point. After a great spring and a spectacular summer the automotive autumn was also very impressive. However, there comes the time when the treasured classic has to return to its cosy winter quarters. In this process, there are some things to look out for.
The graceful model series R 107 Mercedes-Benz SL, a timeless “Stroke Eight” model, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, or an elegant tail fin model – in principle, these Mercedes-Benz classics should not be used in icecold winter. Most are put away for winter in October or November to dream of magnificent rides out in endless summers or exciting experiences with other classics. However, you need to prepare your classic Mercedes-Benz for the winter break properly. The right care before the winter break is paramount if you want the automotive gem to return to its glory next spring.
A thorough wash, preferably by hand, is the be all and end all of the winter break.
Giving the vehicle a very thorough clean before the winter break is an absolute must. Keeping it clean will prevent corrosion and starting issues. In most cases special shampoos with preservation agents or car wash modes with additives are your best bet. The water used for washing even means protective agents reach gaps and other parts of the body that are not directly accessible. It is also important to clean the underbody, wheel wells and concealed areas. Cleaning the engine will not only have positive visual effects, it will also guarantee perfect starts once the spring sun invites us on a joy ride with our classic cars bearing the star. However, take care with pressure washers. Especially in older vehicles the powerful water jet must not be aimed directly at the alternator, distributor or other electrical components. Always keep a minimum distance of 50 centimetres. The same applies to tyres.
Dirt attracts humidity and thus corrosion. Clean the vehicle interior to avoid this and also prevent bad odours. We recommend you keep floor mats outside the vehicle over winter to rule out humidity forming underneath. A well ventilated vehicle interior follows the same objective. For this purpose, simply open the windows by a few centimetres. There are corresponding care products for valuable leather seats and we highly recommend you use them. They prevent the leather from becoming porous or make it react all too sensitively to humidity.
The vehicle interior should also be thoroughly cleaned. The windows should be opened slightly – if possible in the garage.
An oil change is also recommended before the winter break.
Fresh oil protects the engine and even if many classic cars are still far off the next replacement interval, we recommend you always invest in some new lubricant. Classic cars do not cope well with low-viscosity oils like 0W-30 and older sealing materials are often negatively affected by synthetic lubricants. In contrast, current Mercedes-Benz models require this type of lubricant. Consequently, make sure you use the right oil type. Check the oil levels in the transmission and axle drive and top them up to the right levels using the right oil to make sure that all cogs and bearings are ideally lubricated over the prolonged downtime in what are often very low temperatures in the garage or indoor parking facility.
Good levels of care will enhance components’ service life – this applies most of all to cabriolet soft tops. For this purpose, Mercedes-Benz offers special cleaning and preservation agents from its own automotive care product series. Most of all seals are very susceptible to damage by chemical substances. Talcum powder is the best substance to look after classic cars’ rubber soft top parts. More recent, synthetic seals no longer require special substances, cleaning them with soapy water is perfectly fine. We recommend to leave the soft top itself in a slightly disengaged position during the winter break, i.e. you should slightly open it. This protects the fabric, joints and tensioning cables.
If you leave the soft top fully open for a prolonged time, you will cause permanent creases in the fabric. In models with plastic rear windows, such as Mercedes-Benz model series R 107, R 129 or Pagoda models, the component will rip after a few months in the same position. Owners of cabriolets with hard tops should put the component on an adequate hard top stand that relieves the edges of the roof and extend the unit – ideally without applying any stress. In models with fully electric roof, such as the model series R 129 Mercedes-Benz SL, or with the pop-up roof in the R 230, we recommend you simply close the assembly.
Fill her up, please. A full tank does not cause any problems and prevents rusting, for example.
We recommend you increase the tyre pressure slightly to prevent them from wearing out quicker than you would like them to. Inflate them to a minimum of 2.5 to 3 bar prior to putting away the vehicle for winter. Apply some talcum powder to the outside of classic car tyres to additionally prolong the rubber’s service life. We also highly recommend you fill up the vehicle at the pump because condensate may form as a result of an excessive amount of air in the fuel tank. In contrast, a full fuel tank prevents corrosion and starting issues.
The windscreen washer system in classic cars is frequently forgotten. Remove any water to prevent it from freezing if temperatures in the garage drop. Alternatively add anti-freeze agent to prevent this from happening. After having topped up the system, operate it a few times so the anti-freeze agent reaches the nozzles to also protect them. Remove windscreen wipers from the windscreen to make sure they survive winter without deformation or getting stuck to the windscreen. In modern vehicles windscreen wipers must sometimes be brought to service position to lift them off the windscreen. Check the Owner’s Manual to find out how to do that.
An intelligent battery charger always ensures the right electric supply. This also increases the service life of the battery.
You can disconnect classic cars’ batteries. However, we recommend you refrain from doing so in modern vehicles featuring a host of electronic components. Either way, you need to regularly charge the power unit. A drained battery is at risk of freezing in temperatures below zero – and that will damage it. We recommend using cutting-edge chargers that automatically check the charging status and only intelligently supply the vehicle with charging current as required. This saves you having to tediously monitor the charging process. These clever devices can permanently remain connected to the mains. In contrast to older chargers they consume very little energy.
It is not beneficial to any vehicle if it always remains in the same position. For this reason, move the vehicle by a few foot every few weeks during the winter period.
This will also significantly reduce the risk of ending up with deformed tyres and make sure oil is spread around the axle drive and grease around the drive shafts to establish a protecting layer of lubricant.
Every now and then you can run the engine of more recent classic cars for a few minutes to lubricate the air conditioning system. In this process, you need to actually switch on the system as otherwise some of the refrigerant may escape through dried up seals and you will no longer be able to benefit from any cooling effect next season.
The best thing to do is park the summer car bearing the star on the radiator grille in a dry, well ventilated garage. It may also help to have heating at the facility. If you are unable to rely on such a perfect winter facility and you are forced to park the vehicle in an underground garage or even outdoors, a protective cover made of tear-resistant material helps. Make sure to attach it correctly so it is unaffected by potential autumn and winter storms. However, make sure your vehicle is insured and taxed if you park it on the road. The licence plate must also be visible. It is not enough to merely do so when you actually use the vehicle.
Those who are letting their classic cars have a winter break, should thoroughly clean them first.
If you need help in preparing your beloved vehicle for winter, our Classic Partner experts are happy to help.