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Info: Winterizing & Storage

Old 12-03-2018, 12:04 PM
06mistreSS's Avatar
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Arrow Winterizing & Storage

This winter is my eighth straight year winterizing and storing my car for the winter. I occasionally see people looking for input on what to do to store a car. The steps outlined below are not necessarily right or wrong but more so suggestions and recommendations based on what I’ve been doing, what I prefer and what works for me. I welcome additional posts on any other tips and tricks others may use for theirs.

1. Declutter – A lot of random stuff accumulates in the car over the summer months. At the end of the season, I like to clean out and remove clutter from the inside of the car. I keep a box of detailing supplies in the trunk for shows during the summer which also comes out and goes in the house. Basically, anything that doesn’t have to be in the car comes out. That way I start fresh in the spring.

2. Air Up Tires – Because cold air contracts, tires will lose some amount of air pressure during the transition to the colder winter months. During that time, tires should be aired up to maintain the recommended pressure, regardless of driving daily or sitting. Since mine will be sitting, I inflate the tires higher than I normally would during the summer months – for me that’s usually 45 psi cold (that’s 10 psi under my Michelin’s max psi rating). This helps (at least somewhat) lessen the amount of any flat spotting while sitting. New tires, with today’s rubber compounds, aren’t as prone to flat spotting but it’s another proactive move I like to do – they’ll do just fine sitting on the ground for months at a time as long as they aren’t super low on pressure. Older tires, which are more prone to it, can be removed or the weight taken off of them by lifting the car off the ground on jack stands, etc. If inflating high, make sure to monitor tire pressure in the spring since rising air temps will increase air pressure.

3. Change Oil – I always do my oil change BEFORE storage so the old oil isn’t sitting in the engine for an extended period of time. Old used oil contains acids, moisture, etc. which can be harmful to certain engine components. The new oil will be okay sitting over the winter and there is no need to change the oil after putting the car back into service in the spring. The other pro to this is I can just roll out and go in the spring without needing to do anything – easy peasy.

4. Top Off Fuel – Regardless if the gas tank is full or full at the end of the season, I always top off the gas before storage. A full tank of gas has the least amount of air volume in it which means less surface area for the ‘warmer’ air in the tank to condense on the cooler tank walls and ultimately end up in the gas.

5. Add Fuel stabilizer – Mine takes about 6-7 ounces of Sta-Bil to treat the full tank. I add my stabilizer AT the gas station before I fuel up. This allows the stabilizer to mix with the gas and then circulate through the entire fuel system (fuel filter, lines, injectors etc.) while driving home.

6. Wash – Pretty self-explanatory. I hand wash and dry the car so the car is free of debris when it comes time to put the cover on. This is nothing special, just a wash just like all the other washes I give it at any other time during the summer.

7. Position in its spot – In my case, it’s inside (in my garage). I usually take a little more time to get it in a position that’s out of the way as much as possible but still allows me to get around the car easily.

8. Battery tender – I have learned from too many dead batteries to have my tender on the car while sitting regardless of what time of year it is – not just during the winter. It’s more piece of mind for me and is a good habit to have if the car isn’t driven regularly. That way, I know it WILL start when I do want to drive it. The tender holds the battery’s charge so it doesn’t constantly regulate and (worst-case) lose it altogether while sitting. In the long run, this should maximize the life of the battery. Also, because of that, there’s no reason to periodically start and run the car during the winter months - doing that can actually be bad if not run long enough and up to operating temp to burn off condensation that forms inside the engine. I have gone up to 6 months during which the car never gets started or ran, and it has always started right up, issue-free, on the first crank in the spring. For negative ground batteries, + tender cable to + battery post and - tender cable to any ground (pic 8a shows my tender hookup in which I like to connect the - tender cable to the negative ground bolt on the cross brace since it's right there).


9. Critter traps – This is a new one for me and a year-round proactive measure since we’re now located in a wooded area and have an abundance of small critters always around – squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, etc. (mice getting in has been our biggest issue). I've had 5+ live snap-traps with a small amount of peanut butter on each placed around the garage for a couple months now – those will remain indefinitely. You have to keep an eye on the traps but they do work. Do NOT put traps inside the car – if a trap does get something, and it’s inside the car, it will go unnoticed and your car will smell like rotting animals in the spring. I’ve also put anything in the garage that could be a food source (bird seed, etc.) in sealable bins so it’s not accessible – this alone has helped considerably.

10. Dryer sheets – Mice hate the smell so this works as a deterrent and is highly recommended for just that. And, from what I’ve read, these work better than moth ***** – Bounce sheets being preferred. Place them around the interior, in the engine compartment, in the trunk and on top of the tires. Basically anywhere that looks like a good nesting spot. The odor is enough to deter yet low enough to disperse quickly in the spring.

11. Moisture eliminators – Another new one I’m trying this year. I bought a bunch of the tub-style moisture eliminators from the dollar store - pic 11a. I saw some reviews that said they’re effective but the plastic body on these 'can' crack over time and leak the trapped moisture. As a cautionary move, I cut the wrapper on top, peeled down to remove the seal, and left the wrapper on the lower part. I have four of these placed around the garage on the floor which I’ll leave in place through the winter – we’ll see how they do. Because of potential leaks with the tub-style, I do not have them inside the car but desiccant packs can be used for that if desired.


12. Cover – Once washed and in its spot, I typically allow 72+ hours for the car to air dry. I don’t like to cover immediately after washing because that lingering moisture then gets trapped under the cover. Specifically, the spoilers on these 6th gens hold a LOT of water under them - pic 12a shows remaining moisture still trapped under spoiler after six days of sitting with trunk lid fully open (I hit this area one last time by sliding a paper towel under it a few times). Once dry and before the cover goes on, I do a final dusting over the car to remove any debris that’s landed on the car while sitting. Never cover a dirty car as it can significantly scratch the paint. And I recommend not removing and recovering the car more than necessary as that can also scratch the paint.



Last edited by 06mistreSS; 12-03-2018 at 01:21 PM.
Old 12-03-2018, 12:57 PM
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Great information on storage. I do agree with these points, and I'm glad to see you do the oil change before storage and don't put the car on jack stands. I much prefer your style of storing my cars too.
Old 12-03-2018, 04:44 PM
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Great information I usually do the same stuff.
However I didn't get the file tank topped off yet.and it is not covered cause I need to do that.
I did get a little info from a fellow at a Car show.
This guy indicated it is good to park the car on some Plywood it will help the tires not to get cracked rubber.
So I am going to try it and see how well it works.
Old 12-03-2018, 06:59 PM
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This is good information. I stickied this thread.
I love one of the early statements:
The steps outlined below are not necessarily right or wrong but more so suggestions and recommendations based on what I’ve been doing, what I prefer and what works for me.
I think it's safe to say, everyone that has stored a car during the winter for multiple years has developed their own "ritual". Some of that can be exclusive to their environment (such as outdoor vs indoor storage).

I have personally stored three different cars for multiple years during the winter (my Monte is now on it's 11th year, I believe this is it's 3rd year of indoor storage). I have my own rituals and some of them line up with what Matt posted and some of it doesn't. Bottom line, for someone who is looking for info on how to store a car long term, this thread is great advice!!! More years you store a car the more you may tweak this formula to fit your needs.
Old 12-06-2018, 06:49 AM
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Good info for members ��, i do all the above except traps. Havent had that issue.
Old 04-09-2019, 07:09 AM
06mistreSS's Avatar
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So I wanted to give an update. I pulled the car out a week ago, after sitting for 19 weeks, and started right up first crank as it always has. A few things to mention:

Engine warm up: Upon the first startup of the year, and before driving, I pull the car out on the driveway to let it warm up to operating temp which also allows the oil, which has been sitting for 4-5 months, to circulate through the engine. I've always had a very slight lifter tick upon startup that goes away after the engine warms up a bit - that tick is always louder and longer upon the first startup of the year. I wouldn't recommend stomping on it right out of the gate.

Tire pressure: Pressure in two tires had fallen to 23-26 psi so I went around and added air to the tires that needed it to get them all back up to the pressure I like running them, around 40 psi. This is the main reason I inflate high upon storing the car in the fall.

Gas: Mileage on the first tank run after storage is typically lower since it's 'older' fuel that's been sitting for 4-5 months. I typically just try to go out and put some miles on the car to burn this tank and then fill with fresh fuel (I'm already through 1/4 tank in a week). I run 93 octane in mine.

Critter traps: I have five traps out throughout the garage and did not catch one thing in any of them between the last week of November and a the first week of April. During one of our warm spells I did replace the peanut butter I had on them. These will remain out all the time.

Dryer sheets: All were in place, untouched and there were no signs of critter activity.

Moisture eliminators: All appear to have little or no water in them and none of the containers cracked. Moving forward, I'll probably just leave them out in the garage into the summer to see how they do. Won't hurt and I'm curious to see if they pull anything during the higher moisture months from late spring to early fall.
Old 04-17-2019, 05:36 PM
Join Date: May 2018
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Great info! I only wish i could store mine during winter but unfortunately its a daily driver for me,bout the only storage time i get is after ive got it all cleaned up and it looks like rain ill sweettalk my mom to let me put it in her garage lol
Old 04-17-2019, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2019
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Good to know information you put together. Amazed you lost almost 20psi in 4 or 5 months of storage. Perhaps that's is why I like jack stands, seems as though my air loss is negligible. You and I use the same battery AC Delco Professional Series. Stabil now has out the Stabil 360 Fuel additive which emits continuous vapors thus preventing any rust and such from contaminating the fuel system or the engine with the 360 oil treatment during long term storage, you should look in to it. I disconnect my battery, but make sure the door is unlocked and keep my keyed entry locks lubed. Thought for sure the moisture rid type packages would gather errant moisture. Like the dryer sheet trick. good job! Thanks

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