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The best way of guarding against rust devouring your classic is to buy a good, rust-free, car in the first place and keep it well protected. In Britain where we have more than our fair share of wet, damp conditions throughout the year a therefore keeping your car in a dry and preferably dehumidified garage is one of the best means of rust prevention. If you do not have that option, then a car port alongside the house is also a good solution, if not better. It keeps off most of the elements and allows for plenty of ventilation at the same time. In fact, if you’re using an older car as your daily mode of transport, than a wet car left under a car port will be better off than one shut in a clammy garage where condensation can form with no breeze to dry it.

Car Covers, Good or Bad?

How often have you seen cars parked outside under a cover? A plastic sheet over a car is generally not a good idea as moisture will be trapped underneath the sheet and condensation will form when it warms up. Breathable car covers are a reasonable compromise but are still not a perfect solution, especially if they’re left on for long periods of time. The worst thing you can do is to park the car on grass under a cover as you will be trapping moisture from the grass under the car where it can condense on the panels.

Check for Leaks

If your car is going to live outside then you need to check the window seals carefully. Water leaking into the interior can lead to all kinds of problems. Carpets and sound deadening absorb moisture very effectively and trap it against the metal leading ultimately to corrosion. Tracking down where water is getting in can be a tricky business. It is important that you check the widow seals, as well as the sunroof and make sure that rubber grommets are in place for any pipes and cables that pass through the front bulkhead.

Prevention Tips

A major cause of rot is mud that builds up in hidden areas. Particular places to check are around suspension mounting points, wheel arch lips and behind headlights. Mud can stay damp for a long time and traps moisture very effectively.

Keep the underside of the car as clean as possible if you can and make sure it’s well under sealed. There are many waxy rust prevention solutions that can be applied by spray or brush to the underside of the car and to the inside of box sections. These provide very effective protection though they do need to be re-applied occasionally.

In the winter the use of salt on the roads is a particular problem. Salt speeds up the corrosion process better than almost anything else. If you can avoid taking your classic out in bad weather then do so. However, if you rely on it for everyday transport then a regular clean of the underside with a jet wash can help protect it. You may also want to remove rare chrome parts to help protect them, or coat them with a thick layer of wax. This will make the finish look somewhat dull but a quick wipe with white spirit come the spring will bring back the sparkle.

If your car has alloy or wire wheels you might want to keep a set of plain steel wheels for the winter and leave your nice shiny ones in the garage for a few months. This is a good opportunity to get a set of winter tyres to enhance your ability to cope with bad weather too. Ensure that you always store wheels on their side so as not to flat spot the tyres.

Calvin Ford is a blogger and classic car fan who likes to include in his writing rust prevention tips to help you to look after your car, especially in the winter months.