Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Storage

Although living in a part of the world that has four seasons does have its benefits, one thing we face that people in places like California or Florida don’t have to is the need to store seasonal vehicles.

Lets face it, there are some vehicles that just don’t do well during the winter months either because they don’t handle well in snow or because you just don’t want the wear and tear on them that winter can bring.

Whether you are storing a collector vehicle or a lightweight convertible, there are some basics you need to keep in mind.

Make sure your vehicle is sheltered in a place that is dry, reasonably warm and preferably out of the sun. Although the sun is much weaker during the winter months, constant exposure to it is never a good thing.

It is important to do maintenance on your vehicle before you store it so that it is raring to go in the spring.

Maintenance includes changing your engine oil and filter so that contaminants that have built up in the oil don’t sit in your engine all winter. While you have the oil out, pull the spark plugs and pour a small amount of oil into each cylinder. This will help prevent rust.

Add fuel stabilizer to your gas tank, and then drive around a bit to make sure it works all the way through.

Remove your car’s battery and clean the top. Either disconnect the battery cables or use a trickle charger to keep it fully charged.

Top up all fluids – this includes transmission and rear axle fluid and possibly brake fluid. If it is being stored in freezing temperatures rather than inside, make sure you fill your washer fluid container with winter washer fluid.

Drain your cooling system and refill with new coolant (if cast-iron). If aluminum, don’t refill.

Wheels and Tires
Increase the pressure in each tire by about 10 pounds to help prevent flat spots. If you decide to store your vehicle off the ground, you can leave the wheels on or take them off, just make sure you are using good quality jack stands or hoist.

Make sure your entire vehicle is cleaned from top to bottom before storing. After cleaning, use a protectant on all vinyl, leather, tires and any rubber pieces to ensure there is no drying out and cracking over the winter.

If you shampoo the carpet, make sure it is completely dry before storing so there is no chance of it developing mildew.

Consider spraying hinges and shiny areas with WD-40 to help prevent any rust from forming.

Finally, don’t forget to let your insurance company know your vehicle is in storage. They will be able to recommend the type and amount of coverage necessary, based on where you are storing your vehicle.

Paul D. ReynoldsPreparing Your Vehicle for Winter Storage

Comments 2

    1. Post
      Paul D. Reynolds

      Thanks for the nice link. The article says many of the same things as our post. One item I noticed is about adding fuel stabilizer before storing. It really is best to drive the vehicle around for 5 km or so in order to mix up the stabilizer and fuel before parking in storage.

      The problem you mention of mice is one we have heard a lot about in Alberta. Many people we talk to about Garage Condos have had cable harness, upholstery or carpets badly damaged by field mice. This is more prevalent in suburbs than in City areas.

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