FAQ

Superior Car Storage, Transportation & Specialist Motor Engineers

01580 753939

Storage & Maintenance – Questions Answered

The following questions & answers provide further detail on storage & maintenance matters. To ensure easier reading, we cannot however cover every aspect / every vehicle / every situation in sufficient technical detail & therefore we are aware that in certain scenarios, our abbreviated answers could be technically incorrect. We are more than happy to answer your specific questions.

Q. What benefits are there to be gained from storing my car in your facility rather than in a relative’s garage whilst I am away working overseas?

A. Firstly our premises are purpose built to store valuable vehicles over long periods of time. The premises have a high level of security & are also highly insulated & sealed, fitted with equipment to maintain optimum climatic conditions. It would be extremely unlikely that a domestic garage would meet this specification. In addition we have a superb workshop facility & offer maintenance programmes run by our skilled professionals to ensure your vehicle is routinely monitored & maintained. We confidently believe that by storing your vehicle with us, we can in the long term save you from the nightmare of unexpected expense. We can also prevent the stress & ill feeling resulting from a possible family dispute!

Q What are the benefits of climate controlled/dehumidified storage?

A. Climate controlled storage is the only effective method of storing vehicles over long periods of time. There is no other practical, efficient process of removing moisture from the atmosphere. Without moisture the chemical reactions which lead to rust and corrosion cannot occur. Also climate controlled storage will remove excess moisture from the vehicle’s interior / upholstery so preventing the growth of mould spores which could severely damage the vehicle‘s interior. It is desirable to keep the relative humidity between 50% & 60%. If it drops significantly below this level, natural materials will dry out & damage. Much above this ideal level & moisture will start to cause corrosion & mould problems.

Q. What are the advantages of airflow chambers?

A. Airflow chambers keep vehicles in pristine condition inside their own shielded, filtered environment by providing a highly protective, non contact cover around the vehicle inside. They enhance any storage environment relative to the conditions in which the vehicle is stored. However there are some misconceptions about airflow chambers. They are not dehumidifiers as some people believe as they cannot control & stabilise the relative humidity.

Q. Why do you roll/move vehicles regularly?

A. The continuous standing weight on the tyres & wheel bearings if left in the same position, will cause the tyres to deform, creating flat spots, this could cause wheel vibrations & possible tyre failure (blow outs). Wheel bearings can be marked / damaged caused by load being placed continually in the same position which will lead to excessive wear & premature bearing failure.

Q. Why do you alter the tyre pressure when placing a vehicle into storage?

A. The tyre pressures are usually over inflated by up to 50%, depending on the type of tyre/manufacturers guidelines. This is to help with & alleviate the problems as mentioned above ie tyre deformation/flat spots.

Q. Why do you disconnect batteries?

A. Firstly, we disconnect batteries for safety reasons should there be a short circuit fault which could lead to expensive component damage or worse still, a risk of fire from defective wiring or components. This is particularly applicable to older vehicles where there are no safety fusible links at the main battery source. Secondly, with batteries connected, there will always be a small drain of power & therefore the battery will require more maintenance.

Q. Why is it advisable not to disconnect batteries on modern vehicles?

A. Most modern vehicles that have memory systems within the vehicle’s ECU / management systems etc need a continuous battery live feed to support the memory so if the battery is disconnected, the memory can be lost. At best on reconnection, it may only require a radio code resetting and the vehicle will probably have to relearn its engine and transmission drive programme which it will do automatically with mileage use when driven. At worst it may require on some vehicles the ECU / management system reprogramming with special equipment / software. For these reasons it is advisable not to disconnect the vehicle’s battery & to connect a suitable battery conditioner to the vehicle’s battery whilst in storage to reduce the risk of additional costs for recodes &/or reprogramming. Also modern vehicles with this type of management system will usually be fitted with safety fusible links at battery source.

Q. Why is it important to maintain & exercise vehicles when stored? You hear of people leaving cars for many months, even years, doing virtually nothing to maintain them. All that was needed to get the vehicle running was not much more than a new battery.

A. Yes, you do hear stories like this & if you are extremely lucky you may get away with very little more than this BUT all that has actually been achieved is that the vehicle is running & possibly drives. However problems will more than likely materialise as the vehicle is driven with mileage use. What can happen to a vehicle if it is not suitably stored & maintained? Here are just some of the common damaging consequences (apart from the obvious eg battery / bodywork etc). The clutch & / or brakes may have seized. The petrol may have deteriorated to such a degree that it may have gummed up and varnished all the fuel components. This necessitates that the entire fuel system be stripped & cleaned, possibly requiring some very expensive fuel component (s) replacement eg fuel pump & injectors etc. The auto gearbox & / or air conditioning system may be severely damaged. There will also be a number of hidden problems that may not become apparent until relative mileage use. The timing belt & its ancillaries may be damaged, leading to possible major engine failure/damage. Engines & transmission require running & exercising as, over a period of time if they are not run, the lubrication oil will drain away from bearings & frictional areas, leaving them unprotected. Also the used engine oil will have collected a cocktail of corrosive chemicals & if left idle these chemicals will escape from the oil structure & begin to attack the unprotected surfaces to further exacerbate the problem. Oil seals will also become dry & brittle. The first signs of problems will possibly be oil &/or coolant leaks, &/or puffs of smoke from the exhaust. Oil pressure may prematurely fall over a period of time with mileage use, leading to premature engine wear & failure. There will be a similar story with the transmission & other vehicle components etc. The list can just go on & on.

Q. Why is it important to maintain & exercise vehicles when stored? You hear of people leaving cars for many months, even years, doing virtually nothing to maintain them. All that was needed to get the vehicle running was not much more than a new battery.

A. Yes, you do hear stories like this & if you are extremely lucky you may get away with very little more than this BUT all that has actually been achieved is that the vehicle is running & possibly drives. However problems will more than likely materialise as the vehicle is driven with mileage use. What can happen to a vehicle if it is not suitably stored & maintained? Here are just some of the common damaging consequences (apart from the obvious eg battery / bodywork etc). The clutch & / or brakes may have seized. The petrol may have deteriorated to such a degree that it may have gummed up and varnished all the fuel components. This necessitates that the entire fuel system be stripped & cleaned, possibly requiring some very expensive fuel component (s) replacement eg fuel pump & injectors etc. The auto gearbox & / or air conditioning system may be severely damaged. There will also be a number of hidden problems that may not become apparent until relative mileage use. The timing belt & its ancillaries may be damaged, leading to possible major engine failure/damage. Engines & transmission require running & exercising as, over a period of time if they are not run, the lubrication oil will drain away from bearings & frictional areas, leaving them unprotected. Also the used engine oil will have collected a cocktail of corrosive chemicals & if left idle these chemicals will escape from the oil structure & begin to attack the unprotected surfaces to further exacerbate the problem. Oil seals will also become dry & brittle. The first signs of problems will possibly be oil &/or coolant leaks, &/or puffs of smoke from the exhaust. Oil pressure may prematurely fall over a period of time with mileage use, leading to premature engine wear & failure. There will be a similar story with the transmission & other vehicle components etc. The list can just go on & on.

Q. Why is it that brand new cars can stand in car showrooms for long periods of time without any resulting problems?

A. Manufacturers do protect all the vehicles & components with special coatings etc in their production process. Some of the coatings & protective measures will be removed by the supplying dealer before the vehicle is handed over to the customer. Some protective coatings applied to internal engine components for example will just disperse within the engine oil, over the first 500 miles or so. Also supplying dealers are instructed to carry out ongoing maintenance programmes set out by the manufacturer whilst vehicles (or components) remain in stock.

Q. Why is it that brand new cars can stand in car showrooms for long periods of time without any resulting problems?

A. Manufacturers do protect all the vehicles & components with special coatings etc in their production process. Some of the coatings & protective measures will be removed by the supplying dealer before the vehicle is handed over to the customer. Some protective coatings applied to internal engine components for example will just disperse within the engine oil, over the first 500 miles or so. Also supplying dealers are instructed to carry out ongoing maintenance programmes set out by the manufacturer whilst vehicles (or components) remain in stock.

Q. Should I adhere to the vehicle manufacturers recommended service intervals whilst my car is in storage? It has had very little use and hardly done any mileage?

A. This depends on a number of factors including the type / age of vehicle that you own, the type of storage & maintenance programme it is on, & the mileage that you are likely to cover between services. With regard to the first point, ie type / age of vehicle for example, it is advisable that prestige vehicles have comprehensive service & maintenance records & / or a history record showing the amount of time in storage & detail of maintenance programme (from a reputable company) to maintain a good value. If a vehicle is covered by a warranty then it will require strict adherence to manufacturers service intervals. This will more than likely be following the time rather than the mileage guidelines if the vehicle is stored or has had little use. Regardless, even if out of warranty, dependent on the storage condition & programme, it will still need to follow the manufacturer’s minimum maintenance programme, although the vehicle may not require the majority of the service maintenance procedures if the vehicle is doing very little mileage & / or stored in optimum conditions. Nevertheless there will be certain service parts & fluids that will degrade over time, regardless of the vehicle doing little or no mileage. These could include such things as lubricants /engine oil, coolant /anti-freeze, brake fluid, drive belts /timing belts, which require changing on a time basis if they have not reached their mileage limit first, depending on the vehicle make/model. For example some items may require changing every 12 months eg engine oil, & others could be up to 8 years eg some timing belts (please note that all individual vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance & service guides must be adhered to. Also the storage maintenance programme will have a significant effect on the time intervals of replacement components as mentioned above). We will always be pleased to advise our clients on such issues.

Q. What is a rolling road dyno?

A. The correct name for this is a chassis dynamometer, but commonly known as a rolling road dyno.
It is the only way to simulate vehicle road / track, load conditions in a workshop environment. This is achieved by driving the vehicle’s drive wheels on to a set of rollers. The vehicle’s wheels drive the rollers which are braked by an air cooled eddy – current brake. The braking torque is set by the current in the induction coils, controlled by electronics. There are various sensors that are used to sense speed, torque, rpm, pressure, temperature, etc. Information is taken in by the electronic control unit. Functions / programmes can be activated by a remote handset & all the information values taken in by the control unit are evaluated & processed to give the information required & displayed on a screen. Here are some of the practical applications:-

Testing engine power over the entire rpm range.
Fuel consumption measurements at any constant speed or when simulating urban driving.
Vehicle speed checks, gearing & speedo accuracy.
Setting carburettors or injection systems to maximum engine power or to most economical fuel consumption.
Remapping ECU engine management systems.
Checking exhaust emissions under load conditions.
Optimum adjustment of the ignition point for older vehicles to enable use of lower octane fuels currently in use (to overcome pre-ignition & knocking etc).
Checking ignition system for misfires under load conditions.
Checking & testing fuel flow under load conditions.
Checking manual & auto transmissions for operation of gears / bearings / clutch & brake bands for slippage & also for checking shift patterns.
Checking & testing transmissions, including differential & drive shaft / axle joints under load.
Checking of tyre power loss (wrong tyres cause increase fuel consumption).
Simulation of vehicle mass & gradients.
The dyno will also simulate the behaviour of the vehicle on the road taking into account the following factors:- rolling resistance due to flexing of tyres, air resistance of vehicle body, mass acceleration forces, climbing resistance in uphill driving & vehicle specific friction losses.

As part of our enhanced storage maintenance programme we use the rolling road dyno to fully exercise vehicles in a safe & fully controlled environment. It enables us to monitor & check the vehicle’s components whilst under dynamic load conditions which would not be possible by any other means. We run all vehicles under a light to medium load programme which is adjusted to suit the vehicle’s type / age / condition. This is all carried out under fully monitored conditions. Engine & under bonnet temperatures are all controlled by a powerful cooling fan. The programme is designed to ensure that all lubricating oils are up to normal operating temperatures / viscosity. This ensures all vital components are correctly lubricated, including oil seals to prevent drying out & corrosion on vital high load precision surfaces within the engine & transmission. This also includes all the drive shafts plus drive joints & bearings. A chassis dyno / rolling road dyno is the only way of replicating road conditions. A rolling road dyno must not be confused with wheel rollers which use the name “rolling road”. These are free running rollers & are not able to place any type of load through the vehicle’s engine & transmission.

Q. What is a brake roller tester & what is it’s purpose?

A. A brake roller tester (sometimes confusingly called a rolling road) is commonly used for testing brakes as part of the annual MOT / safety road worthiness test. We use a micro processor based system with a analogue & digital read out display. The front & rear wheels are driven into a pair of rollers & are driven by two powerful electric motors. The rollers drive each wheel of the vehicle, as the brakes are applied, the braking force affects the rotation. A measure of braking efficiency can be calculated by the micro processor & results are clearly displayed on a screen. Here are some of the practical applications :-

Measurement of braking effort ( foot brake & parking brake efficiency )
Measurement of brake balance.
Checking for brake binding.
Checking for brake disc run out.
Checking for brake drum ovality.
As part of our enhanced storage maintenance programme we use the brake roller tester to exercise the brakes to avoid sticking brake cylinders & brake callipers etc, & also to keep all brake friction surface areas smooth, clean & free from any corrosion. This equipment removes the need for a road test for this particular exercise. At the same time we also check the overall braking efficiency as mentioned above.

Transport Questions and Answers

The following questions & answers provide further detail on transporting vehicles & legal regulations. To ensure easier reading, we cannot however cover every transport question in sufficient technical detail & therefore we are aware that in certain scenarios, our abbreviated answers could be technically incorrect. We are more than happy to answer your specific questions.

Q. How do I choose the best way to have my vehicle (s) transported considering my location, budget etc?

A.  Please contact us to discuss your individual requirements. No matter how complex, big or small your transportation task, we would be glad to be of assistance. Our website shows some of our types of vehicles & some of their capabilities, but we can discuss in more detail their suitability to match your particular needs.

Q. What is the most cost effective way of transporting my vehicle?

A. Open transportation is the cheapest option, especially so when carrying multiple of cars. It is mainly suited to daily use type vehicles. We strongly recommend that high value, prestige, cherished classics & fragile restoration projects etc are transported in an enclosed transporter. Please note that open transport can leave vehicles vulnerable to external influences such as unusual wind turbulence & vibration, damage from tree branches, hedges etc.

Q. Why do you recommend the transportation of vehicles in covered transporters when car manufacturers despatch brand new cars on open decked transporters?

A. The costs would be too high for manufacturers to transport large volumes of vehicles in covered transporters. A large open multi deck car transporter can carry up to approximately 12 small or 10 medium or 8 large sized cars (an enclosed car transporter will at best only carry half this amount). There is however a much higher risk of damage when carrying cars on an open transporter & to minimise such risks the car manufacturer in its production processes may carry out some or more of the following procedures. Any vulnerable components, spoiler / trim panels etc that can be easily fitted later by the dealer, will be placed inside the car. Suspension may be locked or raised by temporary means to aid the loading and transportation, particularly with low cars & some vehicles fitted with air suspension etc. Special removable protector pads and strips are temporarily fitted to protect vulnerable parts of the body. Also the body is usually sprayed with a removable wax type coating, known as transit and storage wax &/or plastic covers to protect against stone chippings and light abrasions etc. Special temporary electrical transit and storage relays and/ or ECUs are temporarily programmed so that vehicles can be driven on to transporters and locked to avoid problems from alarms, immobilisers etc whilst in transit and storage. Once delivered to the dealer all the above temporary transport & storage measures are all taken care of in the dealer’s workshop. However, manufacturers of low volume & high value cars generally will insist on covered transportation. It would not be viable for us, or any other vehicle transporter company, to replicate all the steps taken by the vehicle manufacturers which is actually part of the manufacturing process.

Q. I have a non running vehicle that is completely dismantled ie no wheels. The engine & transmission has been removed from the car & I have numerous loose components. The car is in a garage at the back of my house & my drive is long & narrow. You will not get a transporter close to the car. Can you help?

A. Yes, we can help. We have the experience, the equipment & the vehicle to safely remove, contain, transport, store, and deliver your vehicle and all its components to anywhere, without losing a split pin! Please call to discuss giving FULL details of what is required. Measurements/photos may be required to ensure correct choice of transporter/equipment.

Q. Can you assist with show events over a period of days eg weekend etc?

A. Yes we can assist at shows, displays, & events.

Q. Is there any preparatory work that I need to do before you transport my vehicle?

A. Yes. If the vehicle is to be transported as driveable, ensure that there is enough fuel in the tank. We would suggest 10 to 15 litres to be on the safe side. Ensure that your vehicle(s) is free from obstructions in readiness to load on to the transporter. Finally ensure that any documents & keys, including the keys to open boot, bonnet etc are at hand.

Q. Do I or any person need to be present on collection or on delivery of my vehicle?

A. Yes. We will need either yourself or a nominated, responsible person (s) at both the collection & the delivery points & where applicable that person(s)to have appropriate ID. This will be made clear on the booking confirmation.

Q. Will there be an additional charge if I place extra items etc inside my car or ask the driver to carry additional components on the back of one of your transporters?

A. We will not necessarily charge any more but this does depend on the amount of weight / volume & we will need advance notification of additional items to be carried & exactly what is going to be placed inside your vehicle. We reserve the right to refuse to carry anything other than what has been booked. The reasons for this are :- weight of goods could overload a vehicle, particularly if a small transporter was to be used, sufficient space may not be available and any hazardous / dangerous substances need to be clearly identified etc.

Q. When obtaining a transport quotation, what information will you require?

A.  We need to know the collection and delivery addresses (with postcodes), and the accessibility of both. We need to know the make, model, year and market value of the vehicle/vehicles to be transported. Also we need to know their condition – whether can be driven onto the transporter or need winching. If non running, we need to know why the vehicle does not run.  Please note that accessibility is critical when winching is required.  We also need to know if there are any other items to be transported and if so their size and weight. For some vehicles (such as vintage/custom vehicles) we will need the vehicle’s dimensions as there will be no reliable technical data. We will require the length, width and height and we may also need to know the vehicle’s weight.

Q. I am unsure regarding my collection/delivery address for access for your transporter? I have seen builders merchants/skip lorries reaching nearby properties.

A You need to be aware that typically our transporters are high and wide HGV vehicles (so able to transport large cars within). Low tree branches, narrow lanes, overgrown hedges, tight road bends, low bridges, weight restrictions can make access difficult to the point of being impossible. To give an idea of size, our largest transporter is similar in size to a double decker bus and it can be towing a large enclosed trailer which makes this combination over 61 feet in length (longer than standard articulated vehicle). If we have an accurate description of the access we can then send the appropriate transporter to avoid any disappointment and unnecessary expenditure.

Q. What is an Operator’s Licence? What is its purpose?

A. This is a complex licensing system. This answer is our very simplified version.

Operator Licensing is the legal system for controlling the use of goods vehicles used for trade & business purposes for most goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW. There are 3 classes of Operator Licences.
These are :- Restricted, Standard National, and Standard International.

Restricted licences are only available to own-account operators who carry nothing other than goods in connection with their own trade or business. Restricted “O“ Licence holders must not use their vehicles for hire or reward or on behalf of customers, even if done only as a favour, or as part of the service provided to a customer, even if no charges are raised.

Standard National licences entitles the holder (ie professional haulier) to also carry goods for hire or reward on national operations only.

Standard International licence entitles the holder to also carry goods for hire or reward on both national & international operations.

A licence identity disc containing the registration number of the vehicle concerned is issued for each vehicle specified on the operator’s licence. Each disc will show the operator’s name, the vehicle registration number, the operator’s licence number, the disc expiry date and the type of licence. The discs are colour coded:-
Orange – Restricted licence
Blue – Standard National licence
Green – Standard International licence

There are some vehicles which are exempt from the operator licensing system :- for example vehicles used by the emergency services such as the police, the ambulance service, the fire service, armed forces etc. Also private vehicles used solely for carrying private belongings, that are not connected with any business activities & are taxed privately. An example of this is a private horsebox, used by a person for transporting their horses to a show as a non professional competitor etc. Recovery vehicles are exempt from operator licensing & this does cause confusion within our industry, ie transporting cars. For example a recovery vehicle must only be used for the recovery of a vehicle that has recently been involved in an accident or has broken down, and such a vehicle must be taken to a place of safety or for repair or to be scrapped. They must not be used for the general transportation of vehicles, whether in roadworthy condition or not. For example, a vehicle such as a classic car that had been stored in a barn for a considerable time then the owner requires it taking to a restoration garage or to another owner, must NOT be transported by a recovery vehicle. Recovery vehicles are registered & taxed as such.

Requirements to obtain an Operator’s Licence.
An applicant cannot obtain an Operators Licence like a TV licence! They are not automatically granted.
Applicants must meet certain statutory requirements & must satisfy certain conditions.

Restricted Licences.
Applicants must be fit & proper persons, of appropriate financial standing .

Standard Licence.
Applicants must be of good repute, of appropriate financial standing, be professionally qualified/ competent or must employ a person who is professionally qualified & competent in national transport operations.

Standard International Licence.
Applicants must be as above, but in addition must be professionally qualified / competent in both national & international operations or employ someone who is.

All licence applicants must make legally binding promises & undertakings. All applicants / holders must show & maintain that they have adequate facilities or arrangements to keep vehicles in a safe & legal condition. They must also keep suitable maintenance records. Regular safety inspections & routine maintenance should be carried out usually at a maximum of 6 weekly intervals, but depending on usage, this could be much lower. All licence applicants/holders must show & maintain satisfactory arrangements for insuring that the law relating to driver’s hours records, including tachographs will be complied with. All licence applicants / holders must make proper arrangements to prevent overloading of vehicles & trailers. All licence applicants / holders must have & maintain a suitable operating centre.

Impounding of Vehicles.
Vehicles can now be impounded & heavy fines imposed if a goods vehicle is used without / or with the incorrect operator‘s licence. Impounded vehicles & their goods may be returned to their owner in due course provided that specified conditions are met & goods returned to the owner when title has been established. Incorrect & unlicensed operator’s vehicles are at great risk of insurance claims not being met.

Q. Are your vehicle transporters fitted with tachographs?

A. Yes all of our vehicles are fitted with calibrated tachographs. This even includes tachogaph fitment & use with our 4×4 Landrover Discovery. It is a legal requirement for vehicles such as the Discovery when towing a trailer for commercial use, with a gross combined weight in excess of 3.5 tonnes. Therefore when a car trailer is being towed, this weight will be easily exceeded. We strictly adhere to the regulations regarding driver hours & records.