Storing your competition car – so that it’s race-ready
Much as we’d all like to zoom around in our race cars all year, the reality is that life gets in the way. Few of us have the luxury of being able to race every weekend. And during the non-racing stretch of the year, your vehicle will need storing, which can lead to some deterioration.
Happily, there are things you can do to reduce the effects of wintertime storage, and retain your racing model’s value for as long as practically possible.
Give your car a good-old clean and degrease before doing anything else, rinsing off with a hose rather than a power-washer, and then dry it thoroughly. Clean your car by hand and you’re more likely to notice any issues that need sorting.
Consider using a high-quality bodywork wax to protect paintwork, plus a suitable polish for the leather areas.
Deciding where to store
Your storage location for your vehicle must be as dry as physically possible, or at least have a good airflow through it. Consider a dehumidifier, but don’t dry the place out so much that leather, soft plastic or rubber become brittle or crack. Even wood can warp if the environment is too dry.
The ideal floor in your storage space is painted concrete, or you may want to use a groundsheet or tarpaulin if the floor is damp or just earth. A stand means you can work safely and also boosts air circulation.
Finally, of course security will be key in deciding where to overwinter your car, and it’s always worth researching (and investing in) the best alarms and locking systems.
Charge up your battery to the max pre-storage, and, ideally, disconnect it fully from the car’s electrics. Generally, a race battery will remain charged for a lengthy period after isolation, but it’s also worth considering using a good-quality battery conditioner.
Finally, try to keep an eye on your battery’s voltage while your car is being stored.
If you vehicle has a handbrake, leave it in the ‘off’ position. Pre-storage, check out the brake shoes, pads and lines and replacing anything that’s become worn or broken. Equally, change the brake fluid to get rid of any dampness that could result in internal rusting.
Engine and gearbox
Change the filter and oil, using a good-quality product, and do the gearbox oil, too. Next, run through the gears to ensure lubrication.
You can either drain the fuel system completely, or fill it up with fresh fuel and add a stabiliser.
Check the anti-freeze if you’re storing in a particularly cold place, and change clutch and brake fluid if you haven’t done so recently.
During the storage period, try and run the engine to full temperature regularly to circulate oil and provide greater protection.
Check tyres, wheels and bearings for wear and replace as needed. Inflate to the usual pressure before storing. If your tyres will be in direct sunlight, try to cover or remove them and store them somewhere dark.
(By the way, order any new tyres you need off-season, when availability should be better.)
If alloy or steel is exposed directly to damp or air, it will corrode. Refinish any painting, plating or powder coating. For metal, use a polish or anti-corrosive protection spray.
Check the expiry date and condition of harnesses, removing them if you are storing your car somewhere damp. If your fire extinguisher needs servicing, do it at this quiet time, and disconnect or disable its electrics.
Finally, check the seat for damage and clean the material if that needs doing.
Follow the above steps and make life much easier for yourself when you take your car out of storage and race again. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like any advice about overwintering your competition car.