JK’s Guide to Storing Your Classic Volkswagen for the Winter

JK’s Guide to Storing Your Classic Volkswagen for the Winter

JK's Head of Marketing
Published 29 November 2023
Josh Reynolds

If you’re thinking of storing your classic VW over the winter, but aren’t sure how, then this is the perfect guide for you.

We’ll explain why you might want to tuck your Volkswagen away for a few months, how to prepare your vehicle for hibernation, and some tips on making sure it emerges in spring in great condition.

Service Your Classic VW Before You Store It

It’s important that you give your Volkswagen a good service before you put it away in storage for the winter.

Not only will this mean that it’ll be ready to drive when the weather warms up again in the spring, but jobs like changing the oil and replacing your oil filter will mean that you won’t have the impurities which can build up in oil doing damage to your engine all winter.

You should be able to complete a basic service yourself, if you’ve got the time, tools, and confidence to tackle the job, but there are also plenty of garages around the country who can do this for you.

If you’re not sure how to go about servicing your classic VW, we’ve put together a bit of an overview for servicing your vehicle on our YouTube channel.
You’ll also find loads of help in books like John Muir’s or our very own Kamper Manuals for the T2 Bay and T25.

To make things easier got a whole range of service kits for your VW, catering to all different models, years, and engine sizes. Click here to see our full range of service kits. You'll also save money by buying all the parts as a bundle, over buying each of the parts individually, which is even better!

Our resident mechanic "Workshop Mark" servicing a VW Beetle's engineOur resident mechanic "Workshop Mark" servicing a VW Beetle's engine
Our resident mechanic "Workshop Mark" servicing a VW Beetle's engine

Give Your Volkswagen a Thorough Clean

You’ll need to give your classic VW a really thorough clean before you put it away in storage, to ensure that there’s nothing on the body which will cause damage to the paint or metalwork over the winter.

Ensure that it’s completely dry before you put it away, too, so you’re not trapping any moisture in there and making things worse for yourself.

It’s also important to clean the inside of your vehicle, and make sure that there’s no bits or food or anything else left in there which might attract mice. We’ve all heard horror stories about people going back to check on their classic cars to find that a family of rodents has taken up residence inside – and started eating away at the apparently delicious interior!

There's a quick guide to getting your VW good and clean on our YouTube channel, which you can watch below:

Prevent Rodent Abuse

For whatever reason, mice and other rodents love chewing on the wiring, hoses, and other rubbery components of classic cars. Maybe it’s one of the materials they’re made with, maybe it’s just a good thing for them to chew, and maybe mice just like causing problems.

Whatever the reason, you’ll want to consider ways to prevent rodents from getting to your VW’s wiring and hoses, like plugged up gaps with things like wire wool.

It’s also a good idea to check the area you’re going to be storing your vehicle in to see if there are any obvious ways for mice or other animals to get in, and seeing if you can secure those, too.

Leave the Hand Brake Off, and Put it in Neutral

When it’s time for you to park your classic VW up for the winter, it’s always best to leave the handbrake off, and leave it in neutral. If you’re storing your vehicle on a slope, this might cause problems, so consider using something under the wheels to keep your VW from rolling!

Doing this will help prevent strain on the handbrake cable and the clutch cable, which can be relatively easy to replace, but it’s even easier not to need to replace them in the first place!

Ruby, the 1967 VW Beetle Cabriolet belonging to JK Founder Mark ReynoldsRuby, the 1967 VW Beetle Cabriolet belonging to JK Founder Mark Reynolds
Ruby, the 1967 VW Beetle Cabriolet belonging to JK Founder Mark Reynolds

Move the Wipers Off the Glass

If you can, consider raising your windscreen wipers off the glass, to prevent the rubber from sticking to the glass. You don’t have to lift the wiper arms all the way up, and can place some paper or an old cloth underneath the wiper blade to stop it pressing against the glass.

This is another quick step which can save you a bigger job in the spring!

Consider a Trickle Charger, or Removing Your Battery  

Another quick and easy job which can save you some frustration in the spring is taking care of your vehicle’s battery.

If you’re storing it indoors or under a cover, you’ll likely want to remove the battery and keep it topped up to it’s in good condition when you’re ready to re-install it in the spring.

Alternatively, you could take a look at a solar trickle charger, which will keep your battery topped up throughout the winter if it’s got access to sunlight – but you might not want to leave your VW exposed to the elements all winter, if you can help it!

However you go about it, making sure that your vehicle battery doesn’t go flat or degrade over the winter will make it much easier to get back on the road again in the spring.

Icicles on the front of Doris, the VW T2 Bay belonging to Shaun and Caz from the JK TeamIcicles on the front of Doris, the VW T2 Bay belonging to Shaun and Caz from the JK Team
Icicles on the front of Doris, the VW T2 Bay belonging to Shaun and Caz from the JK Team

How to Stop Your Classic Vehicle’s Tyres Getting Damaged During Storage

If you’re going to be storing your classic VW for a few months, then you’ll want to take steps to ensure that you’re not damaging your tyres while it isn’t being driven.

This can happen if the weight if your VW is pressing down on a single area of the tyres for an extended period, leading to them becoming deformed and developing a flat spot.

If possible, it’s worth considering using axle stands to raise your VW off the ground, so that these flat spots can’t develop.

For those of you who can’t stick your vehicle up on stands, you can help prevent tyre flat spots by filling them with air until they’re at, or close to, maximum pressure. It can also be helpful to roll your VW forwards or backwards a bit every now and then, if you’ve got the space to do so safely, so that the weight of the vehicle is resting on a different part of the tyre.

Allow a Breeze into Your Interior

If it’s safe to do so, it’s generally a good idea to leave your vehicle’s windows open a crack, to allow air to flow in and out of your vehicle. This will help prevent moisture from building up inside and causing things to go musty or mouldy, or from rusting out metalwork.

You might also want to take a look at moisture traps, which will collect up any water from the air and prevent it from causing problems. Just remember to empty it when you check on your Volkswagen through the winter!

A VW T2 Bay parked up in deep snow. Image Credit: Dylan Luder, via UnsplashA VW T2 Bay parked up in deep snow. Image Credit: Dylan Luder, via Unsplash
Image Credit: Dylan Luder, via Unsplash

How to Prevent Your Fuel Tank from Corroding

There’s a bit of a debate about this online, with some people saying that you should leave your fuel tank full if you’re storing your classic car over the winter, and others saying you should empty it out.

In reality, either of these approaches is fine, and both will prevent moisture from building up in your fuel tank and causing corrosion.

The fuel in your tank will draw in moisture if there’s a pocket of air in your partially full tank, which isn’t an issue when you’re driving your car regularly, but if you’re storing it over the winter then this can lead to rusting.

By filling your fuel tank all the way up, and adding some fuel stabaliser to it, you’ll ensure that there isn’t any space for moisture to build up and cause corrosion.

Emptying your fuel tank means there’s no fuel in there to draw moisture in in the first place, which also prevents the corrosion problem. Just remember to run your engine until the carburettor is empty before you put it away, and that you’ll need to fuel it up before you can enjoy it again in the spring!

Consider a Vehicle Cover, or Instant Garage

If you’re storing your classic VW outside for the winter, then it’s well worth considering investing in a breathable vehicle cover to help protect your vehicle from the elements.

We just so happen to have created our own range of luxury breathable vehicle covers for the classic VW Beetle through to the newest VW T6.1.

Each of them is made from three layers of highly water resistant, breathable polypropylene non-woven fabric. We’ve chosen this material as it has good ventilation, to allow moisture to escape, but will help shelter your vehicle from harsh UV light, frost, bird droppings and other things which might damage the metalwork or paint.

If you are storing your vehicle under a cover, it’s a good idea to remove it on clear, dry winter days to allow even better ventilation and so that you can give your VW a good check over.

There are also instant garages, which you can set up like a huge tent and park your vehicle in over the winter, if you haven’t got a permanent garage (or you do, but it’s full of stuff and there’s no space for your VW in there!).

We stock a range of heavy-duty instant garages from Clarke, including exclusive Tall and Extra Tall garages which are ideal for high-top vehicles and can only be found here at justkampers.com.

A VW T2 Bay in under one of our JK Luxury Breathable Vehicle CoversA VW T2 Bay in under one of our JK Luxury Breathable Vehicle Covers
A VW T2 Bay in under one of our JK Luxury Breathable Vehicle Covers
Ruby the Beetle in one of our Clarke Heavy Duty Instant GaragesRuby the Beetle in one of our Clarke Heavy Duty Instant Garages
Ruby the Beetle in one of our Clarke Heavy Duty Instant Garages

Check That Your Vehicle is Secure  

Whether you’re storing your classic VW on your driveway, in a garage, or elsewhere, one of the final jobs you’ll want to do before saying goodbye to it for a while is to make sure it’s secure.

If you have left the windows open, consider cab window vents, which will allow air to pass through, but not prying hands!

Security accessories like wheel clamps, steering wheel locks, or cab floor pedal locks are also great deterrents against opportunistic thieves.

One of the best things you can do to prevent anything happening to your VW while you’re storing it is to make it as unappealing and difficult a target as possible, as well as not making it obvious exactly what or where it is.

Try to park it somewhere which is difficult for others to access, or place awkward items (or other vehicles!) in front of it, too, to reduce the chances of anyone trying to make a quick getaway.

Visit Your Classic Car While it’s in Storage

It’s always a good idea to go and check on your VW every few weeks while you’re storing it over the winter, to make sure that it’s all okay.

Check for rodent abuse, and any signs of damage to wiring, hoses, and other components. If found, it’s worth ordering replacements but maybe waiting until spring to fit them, so you don’t have to do it again!

Also check for moisture pooling on or in the vehicle, and see if you can take any steps to prevent this from happening – placing a moisture trap inside, or fitting a vehicle cover over your VW.

It’s best not to fire up the engine, unless you’re going to take it for a drive, as you’ll want to give the engine plenty of time to properly warm up and run. If you are taking it for a drive, don’t forget to either completely fill up or completely empty your fuel tank again when you’re back, as we mentioned earlier.

A VW T25 parked up in the snow. Image credit: Balkan Campers, via UnsplashA VW T25 parked up in the snow. Image credit: Balkan Campers, via Unsplash
Image credit: Balkan Campers, via Unsplash

A Note on Laid Up Insurance

If you know that your classic VW isn’t going to be on the road for a few months over the winter, then it’s well worth taking a look at Laid Up Insurance.

This is essentially a special vehicle insurance policy which doesn’t cover you for road use, but does keep you covered for anything else, which is ideal if you’re not planning on driving your VW through the winter.

Just Kampers Insurance offers three levels of laid up cover:
• Accidental damage, and fire,
• Accidental damage, fire, and theft,
• Fire, and theft.

These laid up insurance policies cover your vehicle while it’s kept at your home address, or on a driveway/garage, or during transport in a locked vehicle or secured trailer.

Your vehicle won’t be covered for use on the roads if it has laid up insurance, but it will be covered if driven for track days, race events, or to MOTs and IVA tests!

If you want to learn more about laid up cover from Just Kampers Insurance, then click here.

Thanks for Reading, and Have a Great Winter!

We wanted to say a quick thank you for reading through our guide to storing your classic VW over the winter, and we hope you found it useful.

You’ll find more guides, how-to articles, and other useful information here at justkampers.com as well as loads of great how-to videos over on our YouTube channel.

3 months ago