Proper winter storage

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Oct 11, 2002
Pullman WA
I've got a 97 mustang that isn't going to be driven from December through March of next year (4 months), what should I do to the car? The oil will only have about 100 miles on it when I stop driving it, the car will be in my garage. I've heard different opinions as to whether I should start the car periodically and let it run to operating temperature, whether or not I should put a fuel stablizer in it, and whether or not I should disconnect the battery. Any help based upon own experiences would be helpful.

If at all possible, I'd drive the car for 10-20 miles once a month.
I would put a fuel stablizer in it. Try to find a 1 amp trickle charger to maintain your battery to keep it from sulfating. I always put mine on jack stands. The only other thing you might do is to put about a table spoon of engine oil in each cylinder. I can't think of anything else I would do to store one for just 4 months.

My firm belief is to not start the engine at all unless you are going to drive it. By idling it you won't be getting the oil temperature hot enough to burn off the moisture, nor will you get the moisture out of the exhaust. You'll just end up putting more fuel into the oil too, with the longer warm up time it'll take when idling from a cold start too.

I see no need to start the engine for such a short period of time of storage. I've stored cars for 4 months without starting them and when I turned the key in the spring, the engine sprung to life and made no strange noises or any other problems that would indicate what I did was wrong. The engines ran perfectly smooth.
Ditto on the fuel stabilizer, and run it long enough to mix & hit the engine before storage.

Replace the oil filter or drain 1qt & top up with fresh oil. (freshens additives to fight acids) Similarly, circulate before storage.

Pull the plugs & put 1Tbsp oil in each cylinder. Pull the primary wire & crank it over once, then replace plugs hand tight without connecting wires. You can use a fogger product instead but the effect is similar.

Check coolant ratio and winshield reservoir, especially if freezing is possible.

Finally, either disconnect the battery or hook up a trickle charger, as westex suggested.

I wouldn't start it monthly unless you can drive it 20+ minutes. You'll cause condensation internally & do more harm than good.

Anyway, that's our traditional storage routine here in the wet PNW. For longer we do things like dress the belts, dress door/trunk/window seals & leave things ajar, block the exhaust, etc. Depends on value, duration & location.

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