With a snowstorm of biblical proportions terrorizing the east coast, we thought it might be a good time for some winter storage tips. JNC reader Dustin (aka ohcanada_00 of Giga Pudding fame) works for the car care experts at Griot’s Garage and has offered to share some of his company’s knowledge with y’all!
5 Easy Steps to Prepare your Cars and Bikes for Winter Storage –by Derek Wescott
The rain is falling and the temperature is beginning to drop here at InMyGarage.com HQ, which can only mean one thing… Old Man Winter is here and it’s time to button up the track toys and weekend cruisers. I’m going to give you 5 easy steps to make sure your baby is turn-key ready when spring rolls around.
Step 1: Protect Your Engine
Change your oil. This one is simple and something almost anyone has done, but fresh fluids are easily overlooked before tucking your car or bike away in storage. The byproducts from combustion that build up in your oil produce acids that can harm the inner metal surfaces of your engine. Leaving old, used oil in your engine’s system can cause mild corrosion if left sitting for extended periods of time, which is why oil change intervals include both mileage and time.
Quick tip: I don’t know about you, but when it gets cold crawling under the car to drain the oil isn’t my favorite thing to do. I’ve started changing my oil using our Multi Fluid Extractor to suck the old oil out of the system through the dipstick tube. This system is not only cleaner and easier than crawling under the car; it has been proven to remove more oil from your system than draining through your oil pan’s drain plug.
Step 2: Protect Your Fuel System
Generally there are two schools of thought when it comes to preparing your vehicle’s fuel system for storage: 1) Fill the tank with fresh gas, or 2) Run the car until the tank is nearly empty. The problem with both of these systems of thinking is they don’t take into account your fuel lines. Fuel sitting in your system for longer than two months starts an oxidation process that will eventually turn into varnish and clog your fuel system. Griot’s Garage Fuel Preservative will chemically isolate the oxygen preventing the oxidation process and also neutralize corrosive compounds that can cause rust to form in your fuel system.
Step 3: Protect Your Cooling System
Another fluid… seeing a trend here? The prime ingredient in antifreeze is ethylene glycol, which chemically breaks down over time and eats away at cooling system components. If old coolant is left sitting in your system over the winter the acids can damage your cooling system and increase the chances of leaks. Since many vehicles that are stored during the winter don’t see too many miles it isn’t always necessary to flush your entire cooling system. Instead, you can add Corrosion Inhibitor to your coolant to neutralize existing acids and stabilize your antifreeze to prevent corrosion build up in your cooling system.
Step 4: Protect Your Battery
The last thing you want to hear when firing up the engine after a long winter is the dreaded click click, but we’ve all found ourselves in that position. Ensuring that your battery is stays charged during the winter will not only avoid killing the anticipation of your first drive, it will also prolong the life of your vehicle’s battery. Battery management is especially important with modern vehicles that have sophisticated electronics like navigation or alarm systems that are constantly draining the battery, but any car will benefit from keeping a charge in your battery over the winter. I skipped this step last winter with my ’89 BMW 3 Series and ended up needing to replace my battery.
When selecting the perfect battery management system for the job make sure you choose one that monitors the level of charge in your battery to avoid over-charging the battery, which is something the traditional trickle charger does not do. The Griot’s Garage Battery Manager IV works with 6 volt and 12 volt gel-cell (AMG) and standard (STD) lead acid batteries and has a simple “set it and forget it” design making it easy to ensure that your battery is properly cared for throughout winter storage.
Step 5: Protect Your Tires
Flat spots can develop in your tires quickly, and tires are expensive and not something anyone wants to replace more than necessary. Avoiding the tha-dunk tha-dunk of flat spotted tires is easy. The traditional method of putting your car up on jack stands still works really well but can be a bit of a hassle if you ever need to move the car. This is why Flat Stop Stopper ramps were created. These ramps were developed to cradle your tires and distribute the vehicle’s weight evenly when parked. Need to move the car? Just drive right off. Well worth the investment if you have a tight storage space or store your car often.
Bonus Step 6: Protect Your Paint
You didn’t think I forgot, did you? Protection is the focus of this detail, so you don’t necessarily need to spend the extra time polishing out any swirls or imperfections that have developed during the warm weather driving. Wash your car, grab your Clay and Speed Shine, and apply a quick coat of Paint Sealant. This should only take you a couple hours and will make sure your paint is protected from the airborne contaminants it will experience during the winter in the garage. We’ll go into paint protection and interior protection soon in another installment.