How to Care for a Classic Car whilst it’s in Hibernation

Aston Martin DB5

With most of this year’s road trips and car events cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many classic car owners have found themselves unable to take their cars for a spin. In order to keep a classic car running, it’s important to keep its interior and exterior in the best possible condition.

Here, the Classic Car Finance Team at Cambridge & Counties Bank share their top tips on how to maintain and care for your classic car while it sits idle in your garage, ensuring you’re ready to take to the roads when it’s safe to do so.

Avoid Moisture

If moisture gets into the cracks and crevices of a car, it will be sure to rust! Corrosion is the silent enemy of classic cars, so it is important during long periods of standstill to keep your vehicle dry and cool.

Avoid covering your car with a cover that has poor breathability as this can trap moisture which leads to rusting metal or cause the paint to micro blister. For areas that are difficult to cover with paint, use a rust-resistant wax or oil with a small nozzle, to ensure that any exposed metal is fully lubricated. Classic cars should be kept in a cool garage and, where possible, owners should invest in a dehumidifier to reduce the chances of rusting. This will suck excess moisture out of the nooks and crannies following exposure to water or rain.

Battery level

When leaving your motor unattended for long periods of time, investing in a ‘trickle charger’ will help to keep the battery topped up. Designed to be left on a car for a long period of time, a trickle charger slowly adds power to a car battery and prevents its normal depletion during periods of non-use.

Alternatively, you can purchase large scale jump packs, which can be connected to a power source, to start the engine in a time of need. To avoid any major issues with your battery, ensure it is charged at all times by testing it regularly and performing maintenance early on.


Tyres are often one of the most overlooked components of a car, though looking after them during times of stand-still is vital.

Even when you’re driving your car regularly, it’s a good idea to hose down your tyres after every trip out, to remove mud and debris that may cause rust or affect the quality of the tyre over time. Check the tread depth of your tyres regularly, as you can be fined up to £2,500 per tyre and this can be more common the older and rarer the car. Placing your car on an axel stand or buying wheel locks will prevent your tyres wearing or growing flat spots.


Although you aren’t using your car regularly, it’s important to keep checking on its fluid levels to make sure they’re at the correct level. This includes engine oil, radiator fluid, and clutch and brake fluid reservoirs.  Keep an eye out for drips and leaks – while it’s not common for these to deplete dramatically, the consequences can be catastrophic if there is a loss in any.

General checks

You’ve kept on top of the battery, tyres and fluids of your classic car, but before setting off for your first drive you will need to run a thorough check over the whole vehicle. Turn the engine on and assess the dashboard for any warning lights and take time to check all the car’s exterior lighting is working. Test the foot brake and hand brake, clutch and throttle whilst in a safe area before embarking on a long trip, as the last thing you want is to rush off and discover a fault when you’re a distance from your house.

Lastly, make sure you have sufficient insurance and road tax in place before taking your car out; depending on whether circumstances have changed, you may have to renew the policy or update your details.

Whether it’s embarking on a scenic UK road trip or going to see friends and family, we’re hoping that one day in the near future we will be able to go out in our classic cars once again. Ideally, it’s best to keep your car ticking over during this time by driving it in the short journeys you can, and doing various checks during periods of standstill which will help prevent longer lasting damage in the long run.

Your classic car should be good to go if you follow the above guidance, but always check with a trusted technician if there’s anything you’re unsure about.

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