Well another season has gone by and already we are looking at next seasons activity! Unfortunately as most of us are very busy during the winter we tend to forget that motorcar until the last minute and then cross our fingers that things will work as they should on our seasonal runs. Here are some tips and things to think about to minimize issues with your car when you do start to run this next season:
- If you have a liquid cooled engine, make sure you thoroughly drain the water or add antifreeze if you prefer to prevent freeze damage
- Drain all gasoline from the fuel system if possible. If not add a fuel stabilizer to the fuel. (Sta-Bil is one brand I use and available at most auto parts/supplies outlets including Wal-Mart.) RUN the engine for at least 10 minutes to make sure the mixed fuel stabilizer is distributed through the entire fuel system. This is especially important with fuel/oil mixtures and even more critical with today’s fuels. Keeping the fuel tank topped off over the winter has its pros and cons: Pro is that it minimizes condensation, con is that you have more “old” fuel to deal with come the summer run season.
- Check your sediment bowl if so equipped. At times water can collect in the bowl and cause freezing damage. Not a good thing when the glass replacement bowl is no longer available.
- If possible remove your battery and store in a cool dry place where you can add a boost charge on occasion. ( a friend of mine from New Jersey calls it a “polishing charge” ) . This will prolong the battery life considerably. If you cannot easily remove the battery then plan on adding a boost charge several times during the winter to achieve the same results. Solar trickle charges are a great idea provided you have enough sunlight AND have a system that won’t overcharge the system.
- Don’t forget to remove the batteries from your flashlights too. Replace with fresh batteries before you begin your run season. Today’s batteries while less prone to leak as they did in the past can still damage a good lantern or flashlight.
- If possible periodically start the engine during the winter months and let it run at a fast idle speed for at least 10 minutes. This will keep things coated with lubricating oil and minimize damage due to condensation. It also helps to circulate fuel through the system to minimize sludge and varnish buildup.
- Lubricate the chain and drive sprockets for the same reason as in tip # 4. It takes a bit of time but I usually raise my car on the trailer with the turntable, block it up securely and then engage the drive both forward and reverse at a fast idle to “exercise” the drive system.
- Check the car thoroughly before you park it for the winter. That way you have plenty of time for correction or repair before the rush for the season begins.
- Take the time to inventory the contents of your car, tools, safety items, paperwork etc. Again you won’t be rushed when the run seasons “rolls” around!
- Lastly remove any unwanted items from the car that might be damaged by the cold or dampness of winter weather. Last year one of my passengers had taken a liter bottle of water with them, it rolled under some things, froze and then thawed out and damaged some paperwork I had stored in a normally “dry area”….
There are probably some other things I have forgotten or that may be unique to your motorcar but the bottom line is that preventative maintenance will minimize any future issues. Nothing worse than issues with a car that causes you have to drop out of a run because a problem occurred that could have been prevented.
Take care, and have a great season in 2012.
Jerry “Greg” Geiger