Even on a zoom call, Mike Hall looms larger than life. Just like on the 42 episodes of his reality TV series Rust Valley Restorers (all of which I’ve seen), the 6’ 8” legendary car collector/restorer/rock blaster with trademark blond dreads is animated and full of life. His voice booms out my little computer speakers like 80 grit sandpaper.
Since auctioning off almost 500 cars from his “Field of Dreams” for the final episode of season four of Rust Valley Restorers (aired June 23, 2022), Mike Hall continues to restore cars at his Rust Bros Restorers shop in Tappen, British Columbia, blows up the occasional rock face, and is now partnering with eBay Motors Canada, the online auto parts supplier.
I asked Mike what his top tips are for preparing a vehicle for winter.
First and foremost is good winter tires. It’s amazing the number of people who just want to save money and not get proper tires. Once you’ve rolled a couple of trucks like I have (laughs) winter tires are my top priority. Normally we just go to the eBay Motors site, punch in the sizes and we get a record selection. This year I went with Bridgestone Blizzaks. I just drove my ’68 Chevelle SS down to Vegas and back for SEMA, and I guarantee I was the only guy in Las Vegas with a set of Blizzaks.
Check your antifreeze level. We get five months of winter out here. Get good antifreeze, read the instructions, and test it. Most people don’t. They throw the tester back in the drawer and forget about it. And keep the tester clean. After use, rinse with gas and soapy water – otherwise you won’t get a good reading.
If you’ve got a muscle car, I like to jack them up and take the weight off the suspension and stack the tires. Another thing is, if you have a high-performance car, I highly recommend draining the gas. Or at least put fuel conditioner in it. You might not be driving that car for five or six months, and you don’t want to be running paint thinner through it come spring.
Get some good floor mats to protect your carpets from the slush and muck. We go to eBay Motors, punch it in, green check mark comes out, fits your application and wham-bam you’re done.
Check your front-end alignment when you head into winter. Make sure it’s in good shape. Same thing when you put on those expensive winter tires – rotate them every oil change. They’re soft and that’s why they grip, but they wear out fast. If you rotate them, you might get two or three winters instead of one if you put a lot of miles on them.
Oh, and get a good windshield scraper. Not one of those little plastic ones. Get the long one with the bristle brush. It’s very important when you go out on the highway to see out of all your windows.
Always replace your windshield wipers before winter, and be sure to carry some -40 degree washer fluid in the truck
I asked Mike how he feels after selling off his massive assemblage of rusting hulks in October of 2021, one that he started as a teenager.
“Spoiler alert. I still have a few left. I’m not crying myself to sleep at night. I was down to my last 100, and now it’s creeping up to 200! (laughs) It’s like the vacuum theory of economics. You sell all the cars. It creates this car vacuum, and somehow more rush in to fill the vacuum. I don’t look for them. They find me.”
Fans of Rust Valley Restorers will be happy to learn the series didn’t die with that final auction.
“There’s eight episodes in the can, coming out in the spring. It’s me, Avery and my son Conner. We filmed some pretty cool stuff last year. We did a couple of test drives in the winter as a matter of fact. We had studded tires on a couple of cars you wouldn’t normally expect to see them on. Let’s just put it that way!”
Look for the fifth season of Rust Valley Restorers on the History Channel.