Winter Storage for Your Car or Motorcycle
When the mercury drops and the weather turns cold, many of us put away our warm weather vehicles – both cars and motorcycles. Some vehicles just aren’t the right fit for cold-weather driving. They’re not protected enough to make driving safe, let alone comfortable.
Winter Is Coming
Of course, you need to know the right steps to take for winter storage. Whether you’re storing your bike or your car, the following tips will help ensure you do things right this winter.
Fill the Tank
If you will be putting your vehicle in storage for 30 days or longer, you need to protect the gas tank, fuel lines, pump and engine. This applies to both car and bike owners, as well. Fill up your tank before you store the vehicle. This will prevent moisture from forming in the tank, and it will also prevent the seals from drying. A fuel stabilizer should also be added to ensure that gas doesn’t “lose its charge” during storage.
Crank It Occasionally
While you won’t be driving your car or motorcycle during the winter, you need to take steps to ensure that the battery doesn’t drain down. If your battery sits for too long without being used, its charge will drop, and you’ll have to put it on a charger before you can use it when the weather warms up once more. You can get around this problem by cranking and running your car periodically during the winter. Start it and let the engine run for about 15 minutes every two weeks or so, and the battery will stay fresh throughout the winter. Alternatively, plan to leave the battery on a charger for up to a full day before you take the vehicle out of storage in the springtime.
Check the Antifreeze
With winter’s fury on its way, you need to ensure that your antifreeze is up to the task of protecting the engine from freezing temperatures. This is recommended even if you’ll be storing the car indoors. Checking the antifreeze is a simple process and requires nothing more than a $5 tool from any auto parts store. If the protection level isn’t enough for the conditions your area experiences during the winter, consider having the coolant drained and refilled (it may be time for this service anyway).
No Parking Brake
We’ve been taught to always put on the parking brake before getting out of a car, particularly if parking on a hill. However, don’t use the parking brake if you’re putting the vehicle into storage for winter. There’s a chance that the pad material will fuse with the rotor’s surface if prolonged contact is made. You can still ensure that the car won’t roll by using a chock.
Check the Tires
During normal driving, you should inflate the tires to the OEM tire pressure found on the inside of the driver’s doorframe. However, during winter storage, you’ll need to overinflate them. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, tires naturally lose air over time. By overinflating them, you ensure that you can leave the car for the winter without having to worry that the pressure will drop too low. Second, overinflating the tires helps to combat flat spots on the tire’s tread which form naturally with prolonged contact with the ground. You can also drive the car once every two weeks to help fight flat spot formation (this can be done while recharging the battery as well).
Change the Oil
If your vehicle (bike or car) will be in storage for more than a month, it’s highly recommended that you have the oil changed before putting it up for the season. Make sure the engine is good and hot before you change the oil, though (or take it to a pro to handle this on your behalf). Running the engine before an oil change ensures that more debris is captured in the fluid, and drains out when you pull the plug.
Before you store your car or motorcycle away for the winter, take the time to give it a thorough cleaning. You want to wash the car’s exterior, remove any tar, tree sap or bug debris, and then apply a coat of quality wax.
Clean the Interior
Now is the perfect time to finally remove those food wrappers, drink cups and junk mail that have been collecting in your car’s interior. Vacuum the seats and the floorboards, and then clean the dash, steering wheel and door panels as well. Give the windows a once over with a clean cloth and some glass cleaner, too. If you drive a motorcycle, your cleaning will be much simpler, but no less important.
Inside or Outside?
You have two choices when it comes to winter storage for your car or motorcycle. You can opt to store them inside – in your garage, or in a car storage center, or you can store them outside. Indoor storage is preferred, as it simplifies the steps required to protect your vehicle, and also ensures that they’re not subject to the harsh elements. However, indoor storage isn’t an option for everyone. If you’ll be storing your bike or car outside during the winter, invest in a quality cover. The cover should be waterproof, and should attach to the vehicle to prevent it from being blown off by wind. In fact, many experts recommend using a car cover for indoor storage as well to prevent dust and grime from building up on the exterior.
For both motorcycle and car owners, it’s important to prevent insects and rodents from entering your vehicle while it’s in winter storage. Use plastic bags or tin foil to block all access points, including the exhaust pipes. The air filter housing is another likely spot where both rodents (mice, squirrels and rats) and insects can gain entrance to the protection offered by your vehicle.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll find that winter storage for your car or motorcycle is much simpler than it would be otherwise.