Yes, it is that time. Most of us have summer toys that we put away at this time of the year. Be they cars, boats, RVs, or bikes proper storage is very important. What is proper storage for machines (toys)? In reality it would be best to use all your stuff all year round. Anything with a motor was made to run. Lack of use can cause more problems than you think.
Fuel gets stale and turns to varnish. Seals dry out and moisture corrodes. Tires get flat spots. The list goes on.
Our typical six month storage season is not too taxing on a vehicle though. When you start putting things away for years that is when the real troubles start.
Putting a vehicle away for the winter requires a few basic steps. Add fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank and fill it up (not too full though). A fuel stabilizer is more important than ever now that most of our gasoline has up to ten percent ethanol in it. Ethanol grabs moisture from the air and then will separate out of the fuel and sit at the bottom of your fuel tank. The fuel pump pick up is in the bottom of the fuel tank. When the separated water/ethanol mix is large enough it could prevent your vehicle from starting and anywhere present in the fuel system it can start the corrosion process.
After adding the fuel stabilizer, run your engine for a while to distribute the stabilized fuel throughout the fuel system. Having a full fuel tank limits the amount of condensation build up from heating and cooling during storage because of the limited room for moisture laden air in the top of the fuel tank.
Immediately before storage is also the time to change your engine oil and filter. Engine oil is designed to keep corrosive acids, water and dirt in suspension. Leaving dirty, acidic motor oil in your engine while not in use would allow the bad components to separate out and start the corrosion process on your engine’s internals.
A dry storage area is also important. Storing vehicles above dirt or grass outdoors is usually not the best. Moisture from the dirt and plants accelerates corrosive processes.
Care of your vehicle’s battery during storage is a must. Left connected in your vehicle the battery will discharge fairly quickly. Modern automobiles have fairly high parasitic draw. Multiple computer devices all require a little electricity to keep their memories alive. A discharged battery left out in below zero temperatures will freeze and become a useless lump of lead.
Disconnecting and removing the battery to a place that it can be kept charged is one possibility. Many vehicles now require special tools and procedures after the battery is disconnected to get a vehicle set up and running again without any warning lights on. If your storage place has power consider using an automatic battery maintainer to keep the battery charged and the vehicle powered up and ready to roll in the spring.
Remember when you are storing watercraft, in many cases the cooling system does not contain antifreeze. All the water must be drained out and possibly antifreeze installed to prevent freezing. Many have seen water’s ability to break metal. Hard plastic breaks even easier.