Winterizing Your Corvette

Corvette Snowplow
1993 40th Anniversary convertible owned by Arnie Adams, McAdam, New Brunswick

Unless you live in the deep south or southwest, it’s that time of year to put your Pride and Joy into hibernation. Putting your Corvette in the garage for a while does have some benefits: you can clean it well and check out the condition of the drivetrain. Leaving your Corvette in an unheated garage for months at a time without starting isn’t terrible, but leaving your Corvette for a year or more is when really bad things happen.

The worst scenario for your Corvette is when one cold front after another pummels your garage with temperature fluctuations creating extreme condensation in internal driveline components. Engines, transmissions, and differentials corrode from the top down while the condensation drips into the lubricant. Fuel tanks have condensation dripping from the roof of the tank, corroding the steel fuel sending unit or the tank itself in 1953-1973 Corvettes.

The length of time that your Corvette sits is what really matters. Three months requires very little winterizing. Filling the fuel tank and keeping the battery charged is the extent of preparation. Planning on longer term storage?  Use these guidelines:

PAINT: If your Corvette is going to sit for four or more months without activity, the car should be washed to safeguard against any environmental fallout like tree sap, dead bugs etc. Some of the fallout may be acidic and damage the paint or clearcoat permanently.

TIRES & WHEELS: Scrub the tires to remove any built up oxidation and apply a tire dressing once they are dried. Clean your wheels in a similar fashion to paint as brake dust, when left on wheels for extended periods, can permanently damage the wheel surface. Remember to use a clearcoat specific cleaner if your wheels are clearcoated. While on the subject of tires, don’t worry about flat spotting unless you have bias plies. There has been significant strides in tire composition and technology, and any flat spotting that does occur on radials will be eliminated with a nice 30 minute drive in the springtime. It is OK to keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure, and overinflating is preferred by some to reduce the tire’s pliability. Just be sure to correct the pressure in the spring.

INTERIOR: To prevent moisture buildup and possible mold formation, use a desiccant like Sta-Dry in the footwells and rear cargo areas. If desired, use silicone spray on weatherstripping to keep it from bonding with other surfaces over the winter.

FUEL TANK: The fuel tank should be filled to the top with winter fuel (available after October 1) and fuel stabilizer should be added.

BATTERY: The battery should be kept charged throughout the entire time your Corvette is stored whether it’s winter or summer. We recommend our Battery Tenders, parts 171251 or 171217. Simply connect the Battery Tender to your battery and it maintains the battery charge without any damage or concerns about overcharging or overheating your battery.

FLUIDS: Make sure to top off all fluids including coolant, brake fluid, clutch and transmission, oil and fuel. Always change your oil and filter before placing a car in long-term storage as well.

RODENTS: Any part of a city, suburb or rural area is open to rodent problems, and they can wreak havoc on a Corvette, particularly the plug wires. Certain brands of plug wires (including GM) consist of a vegetable based outer shell which is very appetizing to varmints. To keep them looking elsewhere for their next meal, place mothballs in the engine area. Just don’t forget to remove them before starting the car. Regarding tail pipes, place face cloths over each and wrap rubber bands around them.

CAR COVERS: Indoors or outdoors, we recommend covering a car when it will be stored for more than a few months. The type of cover you select should be based on where the car will be stored. A weatherproof cover is a solid choice for indoors or outdoors, but a cotton cover will suffice for indoor-only storage. Corvette Central stocks a nice variety of covers that are tailored for your year and model Corvette.

STARTING THE CAR IN WINTER: We recommend starting your Corvette once a month throughout the winter if possible. This will help circulate the oil rather than letting it sit in the oil pan all winter, exposing cylinder walls and moving parts to possible corrosion.

10 thoughts to “Winterizing Your Corvette”

  1. Hey Arnie! I didn’t know that snowplows were optional equipment on a ’93 Vette! Nice car, had a Dark Rose ’93 six speed 40th Anniversary myself, now drive an ’86 Light bronze coupe.

  2. I am the original owner 1981 stored in the house garage. My wife sewed up 3 cotton sheets that I throw over it all the time. It keeps the house dust off of it. I lower the windows a little bit as well as the drier sheets to prevent stale air. I don’t have Mickey Mices! I do stuff a shop rag inside the tail pipes immediately after shutting down the engine and it has the original pipes and mufflers without rust. Not sure that is why or if it’s my mind playing tricks on me. That is the way it is stored year around unless I go to a car show or cruise during the summers here in TX. The battery maintainer is a must. Once in awhile I take the cover off, unplug the pipes and drive it out of the garage, let it warm up alot, turn on the heater full blast then back in it goes. We get cold here sometimes into the 20s and I used to do the same when living in Detroit.

  3. Thanks for the information. This my first winter storage for my 2001 vette and I will put the info to good use. I am going to put my vette on skates to have more in the garage, anything wrong with this?

    1. No problems with “skates”. Have done this for 6 years with my 99 Vette to get more room in my garage. Just make sure you don’t damage any body panels when pushing car into storage position. I push on the wheels. In spring attach a rope on the dolly handle to move car back into summer position.

  4. Great article and topic! I’ve had my classic 78 Pace for 20+ years now and always followed the same regiment to store er for the winter…except for my new way of handling the battery. It is a MUST to remove the battery and trickle charge it throughout the winter months…or disconnect and charge if she is close by. I used to leave her in storage with the battery connected and used a battery charger/starter to juice it up, but I grew very tired of that. Therefore, remove your battery and put it in your basement or another warm place on wood. I almost had to replace the dang battery every year when i left it in the Vette for the winter. A car cover is definitely a must to keep her safe. Did you ever see the barn Vettes recovered with tons of dust accumulated? What a horrible sight (if it is yours, that is)! If it is a barn find, well, that is entirely a different situation. Gas er up, clean er up, check er over like you are going to drive 100 miles and she will stay in your life…unless yer wife says otherwise 🙂 There is nothing better than when spring comes, ya prep for fun, there she is, ya turn the key, and she starts RIGHT UP without fail…no stuck brakes…no pumping…awesome. Oh, I should have mentioned: get stainless steel calipers, exhaust…worth the $$$ in this type of situation. Cheers!

  5. Very good article with several tips. I also use fabric softener sheets (like you use for laundry) when storing my boat, as rodents don’t like them, and they do smell better than moth balls. The storage unit I plan on using doesn’t have any electric, so a battery tender is not an option. Would starting the vehicle once a month be adequate or should I try and find a different storage unit? I live in Wisconsin so our winters can be rather brutal.

    1. If you end up going the non-electric route. Unhooking the battery and storing it somewhere with available electric for a tender would be a good idea for longer battery life. Doesn’t take long for the cold to drain a sitting battery.

      1. Taking the battery out for the winter could mess up your computer in the car. It happened to me. I had to take it to a dealer to have them reprogram it. Not Cheap. Just use a battery maintainer you won’t be sorry.

  6. an articel on how to use your corvette throughout the winter and what to do in advance, if you don’t plan on lettings it rest would be nice, too.

    1. Yes, I just got my Corvette and although I live at the Coast where is rains quite a bit – I plan on driving it all winter long. We have rather mild temperatures between *40- *50 degrees with a rare week of dropping in the 30’s once a year. How should I protect my car throughout the winter if I’m driving it? (I just ordered a Storm rated car cover).

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