As the winter months move in, car collectors in northern and snowbelt regions can take some simple precautionary steps to better protect their treasured automobiles from possible damage and/or minimize the destruction that often occurs during a severe winter storm.
“Collectors need to be aware that it doesn’t necessarily take record-breaking low temperatures or mountains of snow to create dangerous situations that could damage their vehicles,” says McKeel Hagerty, president of Hagerty Insurance. “While we don’t recommend that collectors attempt to drive their classics during inclement conditions, it’s always better to prepare for nature than to be caught by surprise.”
10 Points to Winterizing Before A Storm Threatens
Collectors can take some general precautions well in advance of the coldest winter months to help ensure their vehicles’ safety in the event of a major snowstorm or blizzard – even if that vehicle is securely parked in the garage.
- Have the following emergency tools and supplies within easy reach:
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Roof rakes
- Snow shovels
- Sand, salt or ice melting chemicals
- Once garaged, keep your vehicle covered with a cloth car cover and its windows closed to prevent animal intrusions. A raccoon, feral cat, opossum, birds or mice looking for a winter home will find your car’s interior irresistible if given the opportunity to nest there.
- Keep your car’s fuel tank filled to combat condensation in fuel or fuel lines.
- Install heated roof and gutter de-icing cables along garage roof eaves to protect against ice dams, and clean debris from garage downspouts and gutters before the first snowfall, to allow melting snow to flow into gutters and through downspouts freely.
- Keep garage gutters and downspouts clear of drifting snow and icicles and remove branches or dead limbs that could fall against the garage during an ice storm.
- Garage doors are highly susceptible to wind damage. Make sure main doors and their track systems can resist blizzard-like winds. Double doors require special attention because blizzard conditions can place great stress on the center latch mechanism.
- In the event of excessive snowfall, clear as much snow as possible with roof rake to lessen the chance of roof failure due to the excess weight.
- Protect water pipes in the garage from freezing. An eighth-inch (three millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew up to 350 gallons of water a day.
- Insulate any exposed pipes in crawl spaces or along garage walls. Use heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables to wrap pipes for best protection.
- Never try to thaw frozen pipes with a torch or other open flame. Use a hairdryer. As bad as water damage can be, it’s still preferable to fire damage.
If You Must Be On The Road Consider these Five Tips
Storms can come up quickly and even transporting a collectible vehicle can become risky. All motorists should take extra precautions since about 70 percent of people who perish in winter storms are in automobiles, the majority of them are males over 40 years old and their deaths are directly related to ice and snow conditions.
- Before departing, clear ice and snow from windows, mirrors, hoods, roofs, headlights, tail lights, and trunk lids.
- As visibility worsens, slow down but try not to stop in the roadway. If you must stop, pull off on the shoulder to avoid being hit by other vehicles.
- Remember, it’s not likely your classic car or truck has anti-lock brakes, so leave extra stopping distances for emergencies.
- Be vigilant, especially in freezing rain conditions and watch for “black ice” – patches of solid clear ice that form on road surfaces and typically appear darker than nearby dry surfaces. Black ice is one of the most hazardous threats motorists face in winter.
- Watch for downed power lines blowing or laying across roads. Don’t attempt to drive over them, even if they don’t appear to be “live.” Never exit your vehicle to remove downed lines that may have come in contact with your car or truck.
Finally, once the danger has passed, begin to inventory any vehicle damage that may have occurred, taking notes and photos, if possible.
“People cause claims, cars don’t,” says McKeel Hagerty, “and the best defense against damage is preparation and good judgement. If people take the time to better prepare themselves and their autos before any destructive winter weather arrives, their vehicles will be ready to enjoy when those warm Spring days return.”