Best Practices for vehicle winter storage

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May 13, 2004
Toronto, Canada
Now that it seems that Spring is finally here, I am looking for feedback on best practices for storing my vehicle for the winter. I recently moved to a house where I actually have just enough garage space to accomodate keeping my Porsche 944 Turbo off the streets for the winter. It will be stored in an unheated garage with a cover for the car to keep the dust off but otherwise exposed to the Minus 20 temperatures routine in central Canada. I had some questions on storage. 1. Fuel. I am using Fuel Power FP60 in the tank routinely, and will have it available to add when filling the tank prior to storing. Am I best to use an ethanol blend gasoline (sunoco 94) to avoid freezing or is there a problem with ethanol fuel degrading over that time? 2. Lubrication. Am currently running Mobil1 and LubeControl. I plan to add LubeControl to fresh oil prior to storage. Is it better to not start the car at all during the storage period or perform regular starts? What is the tradeoff of moisture getting in oil from occasional idling vs seals and soft parts deteriorating from lack of routine lubrication flow. 3. Battery. Do i just have to disconnect the terminals? Is there anything else I need to do regarding the electrical system. Thoughts from the experts? [Confused]
Heres what i do with the allante, for the Gas add Sta-bil or equivelent to a FULL tank, i dont use ethanol but not because ive heard it can degrade or anything like that. Battery, just disconnect the neg. terminal, do not start it until spring. when you go to store it put fresh oil in and clean it up real nice, add a thick coat of Lexol conditioner or equivelent to the seats. Most importantly, take it for a real long drive and then pull it into the garage, if you have to move it during the winter push it. i use 2 covers, one regular car cover and one that you drive the car onto and zip it shut which completly encases the car keeping it in the same conditon it was in when i put it away. if this is at your house or a place with electricity buy one of those plug in animal repeller things and use that. I also have about 4lbs of a product caled "sta-dri" which is basically what comes in a box of shoes and says "Do not eat" on the little package, this is just 4lbs of it not a tiny little bag. This worked the last winter and when i went to get the car out it started right up.
Hi peterr, Nice ride and your steps sound good to go. Just to add what you said. Do change the oil before winter storage with lube control to keep the moisture, oxidation and what not from developing in the engine. Do not start the car the whole time it sits. Acids will develop in the oil. Moisture will develop too but LC will help keep this down to a safe level. Also, Remove your spark plugs dump about 1-2oz oz of LC right into the pistons. This will will help keep them loose and makes for easier starting come spring. The car will smoke, this is normal and since you will only have 1-2 oz in each piston, it will not foul out the plugs. That's not too say that too much LC will foul out plugs. Reinstall the plugs and wires or you may elect to put new plugs and wires on. This is at your discretion. Keep using FP as it works well as a lubricant for your fuel system parts and as well acts as a good stabilizer. Keep your gas tank full for max protection against corrosion in the tank itself. As far as the battery goes. Disconnect it completly from the car and store in a dry area. They say it's not good to set a battery down on a concrete floor, why exactly this is, I don't know for certain. Keep the battery on a trickle charge every now and then. It's not a good idea to keep the battery on a trickle charge the whole time the car is sitting. Once a month or so, put it on a trickle charge overnight then remove the charger. It's also a good idea to lube your battery connections, both the positive and negative to keep them from corroding. What my Dad and I like to do with our bikes is put a ever so thin coating of wheel bearing grease on our cable connections. The car cover is a good thing as well. You may want to crack your windows in car slightly to keep mold from forming and air constantly circulating throughout the interior. This will help from creating that "musty" smell from closed interiors and houses. Tires, you have some options here. Take the wheels and tires off and clean them throughly inside and out and throw on some wax on the wheels or if there plastic, just clean them and apply some good name brand dressing on the tires both in and out to help keep them from dry-rotting. Then store them in a dry area like the battery. Or,,,,,,,,you can jack up the car, then somehow rig a jack on the suspension to keep the shocks and struts level so the shocks stay level as opposed to just letting the suspension "hang" for the remainder of the time. I know this post is lengthy but since you have an expensive car, I felt I should post everything what I know about storage,,,,AR
Ok, been storing bikes for many years and will hit the basics. Fuel-FP60 is fine for a stabilizer. Try to avoid the ethanol because it has a tendency to absorb moisture. Not a problem for line freezing since you shouldn't start it, but who wants moisture in the tank. Fill as full as you can to keep as much air out of the tank as possible. Change the oil right before you store it and preferably after a long run to burn off moisture and contaminants. Speciality Formulations makes a product that is designed for stored vehicles and it will provide an extra level of protection above the fresh oil/LC20. Battery-Best to disconnect it so any slight draw is prevented, ie; clock, and hook up a maintenance charger. A battery will discharge over time unless a charge is applied/maintained. Don't need that sinking feeling when you hook it back up and "click-click". Also put some dialectric grease or Vaseline on the cable ends and battery terminals. Make sure you gave it a good wash and its thoroughly dry. Good time to give it a wax job and put some protectant on the plastic/rubber/leather. If possible, raise the tires off the floor. If not, make sure they stay inflated and roll the car from time to time so it lessens the possibility of the tires taking a "set". Finally, make sure any repairs are done, you don't want to have to wait for that first drive. Happy slumbering.
Molakule makes an oil additive that contains a Vapour Phase Inhibitor, which will keep internals rust free.
I don't know what bolt pattern your Porsche runs but if you can get a set of four steel wheels with bald tires from the junkyard for $50 or so I would. Store the car sitting on those wheels so the suspension bushings with be "set" in the right position. You won't flat-spot your nice tires and if there's a fire or something you can roll (or start & drive) your car out of the garage in a minimum time.
Mice can be a problem. Keep any birdseed or other food stuff away from the garage. Additionally, mothballs can deter mice.
Originally posted by eljefino: if there's a fire or something you can roll (or start & drive)
good call...never thought of that.
Originally posted by shortyb: AR-simultaneous posting [Wink] Good advise all around.
Thanks shortyb for the kind words and compliments [Cool] AR
For just the 6 months of Canadian winter, I don't think it is worthwhile obsessing over things like moisture/condensation in the oil. Really don't see the point of lube control or fuel power -- maybe add some fuel power in the spring to the petrol that is stored over winter, but seriously, you really shouldn't run into any serious problems with the fuel anyways. As far as a pre-winter oil change is concerned, unless it is due for one, I wouldn't do that either. There is an excellent UOA on this site with a Porsche running the same oil for 5+ years without any real problems on the UOA. Use a highly additized, high TBN 0W30/0W40 HDEO such as Esso XD-3 full synth and you shouldn't have any corrosion problems whatsoever. I wouldn't recommend starting the car while it is in storage if you can avoid it. The effects on the exhaust system are more worrysome, quite frankly, than the effect on the engine and its oil. Other than that, personally I would advise against doing anything elaborate with respect to spark plugs and cylinders. Those parts aren't exactly prone to corrosion, and since you are storing the car in a relatively dry and cold place, corrosion is even less likely. Frequent insertion/removal of spark plugs isn't exactly a good thing either -- the more you do it, the more likely you are to schmuck up the head or cause FOD contamination of the engine itself. This really is a case where sometimes "less is better/more".
The one thing I would do is have a "float" charger on the battery. Maintains the charge but will not overcharge it, plug it in and forget it.
Peterr and the rest of the gang; I was raised around collector cars, classic Cadillacs, Packards, Rolls-Royces, Fords, Ruxtons, etc. The cars were in Michigan and Florida, and you had to take into consideration the different climates of both places. Common sense took care of most things. but a few things that haven't been mentioned. DO NOT engage the parking brake and disengage the clutch when storing in a HUMID climate. It has been known that these two items have a disposition to fuse and bond together, due to electrolysis and other corrossive causes. Freeing things up sometimes means disassembly or replacement, because the part is ruined by banging on it or remachining them. Keeping a constant mild temperature is the key to preventing wear, the fluctuations of freezing and thawing increases wear on bodies and interiors. I hope this helps...Paul [Burnout]
Pitzel-A BiTOGger and you wouldn't obsess over an oil related issue?!?! [Big Grin] To each his own but for me, if I did nothing else, it would be the oil change. I'm pretty hard on the oil and my TBNs are usually pretty low. Not going to give the combustion byproducts and other contaminants a foothold while my baby hibernates, even for a short time. Just me.
Ditto on all of Pitzel's advice. I've been storing cars for over 30 years, and I don't fuss much. One of my cars is a MB E320 convertible. The two most important items that suffer from storage are the battery and brakes. Since the car will be in a garage, the brakes should be fine. The battery should be left disconnected. MB even recommends in their service manual to trickle-charge the battery every 3 months to maintain it. The battery should be fine even without charging if left disconnected. Modern tires don't develop the flat spot that they once used to, at least I've never noticed it on any of my cars.
Thnaks to all who posted. The advice received really is a testament to the value of support in this community. My current plans are to use FP60 in a full tank of fuel and remove the battery to be placed on a trickle charger. Silica gel, slightly cracked windows, car cover over a freshly cleaned vehicle. Possibly may mount my spare set of wheels with worn but functional rubber. I have a trickle charger but it is older than I am so I think I will spring for a new one. I don't think I will remove spark plugs or get too involved with additional measures like that. As followup to a couple of the thoughts raised: by kcryan re Sta-Dri (AKA do not eat): My cats are asthmatic and so i use the silica crystal litter for the good of their lungs. I assume that i can just fill a few bowls of that to absorb moisture in the car. by Kestas and others re rodents: The mice aspect was the one thing raised that really had not occurred to me, but I have seen their effects on boats stored for winter. Moth balls was one suggestion as a repellent, although mothballs really repel me too [freaknout] Do they work? I would hate to make my car smell like mothballs for no effect. Any feedback on other anti-rodent measures that might not be as anti-me? by eljefino re wheels and tires: While the Porsche wheels are very specific and I have not seen a $50 set of steel rims that fit, I do have a second set of Porsche wheels with heavily worn Firestone Firehawk tires. If the consensus is that bald spots are likely then I could swap wheels. My garage is small and not very level, so jacks make me a little nervous, but my main rubber is practically new Toyo TS-1 so its worth preserving. by Airborne Ranger,. shortyb, pitzel et al: Thanks, lots of good stuff. The windows and air circulation is another thing I would have missed.
Not bald spots but flat spots. There are mats made to combat this, but it's fairly easy to change wheels if you already have a set. I recently bought some ceramic coated tubular manifolds, and the coater is adamant about parking any stored vehicle on top of a vapor barrier, even inside, to prevent rust on the manifolds. I'd think this would be a good idea at any rate. I use a Vector 1.5 amp battery float charger I bought at Walmart for $25. It is specifically for maintaining a charge, and it won't even charge a completely dead battery unless you give it an initial "starter" charge(see's it as a short..., an hour with a conventional 1 amp charger does it) It comes with several connectors, including tabs, aligators, and a cigarette lighter adapter. I use the cigarette one in my Impala, and the tabs on the bike. It works pretty well, actually turning off when the battery is fully charged,a and coming back on when it senses the slightest discharge. On the bike battery that's not connected to anything with the ignition off, the light comes on about once per minute for a second. In the Impala, with it's computer, radio, and alarm, it's about every 10 seconds. One caveat is that, if you do use the cigarette adapter, make sure your lighter works with the car off. My Festiva's does not. I can attest to FP's fuel stabilizer properties. Been a couple of months since I fired up the bike. It fired up today like I had shut it down a few minutes earlier. Even with fuel stabilizer, it used to be very balky after a month or so.
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