Winterize Your Car The Right Way
For most of us, winter storage is fact of life for several months throughout the year. It is also the time when the lack of driving combined with damp nights, allows the condensation to take hold and accelerate the corrosion process. No matter how well your car has been protected or restored, nor how well your garage is insulated, you cannot alter physics. Airchamber with its Controlled Environment Technology, is your best defense against nature and pests.
Unless you have the luxury of a temperature-controlled space kept to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, condensation can occur. You may not see it on the bodywork which is protected by paint, but it will start inside the chassis members and under the carpets. We have all seen the horror.
The engine cannot be disregarded either. Any internal combustion engine will always have at least one cylinder with valves that are fully or partially open, allowing moisture in through the air intake or the exhaust. Condensation is the root cause of rust, rot, and corrosion. Restorers love it... they stay employed!
These tips will help to keep your car or motorcycle in great condition and ready for Spring:
- Thoroughly clean and detail the entire car. Paint, glass, leather, carpet, brightwork, and wheels.
- Remove floor mats and any removable carpeting from inside the car and trunk.
- Change the oil and filter. Contaminants, acids, condensation, and particles build up in the oil – especially on short drives and if the engine is turned on "just to warm it up and lube everything". This will cause sludge over time and wear to the engine internals.
- Change the antifreeze if it is more than a year old. Make sure that you have a sufficient concentration of coolant to prevent freezing. You can buy a hydrometer from the local parts store to check this.
- Add a screen wash concentrate to your windshield washer fluid to prevent freezing.
- Have the brake fluid flushed. This is very important and often overlooked. It should be done at least every 24 months regardless of miles driven. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.
- If the water content in the brake fluid is high, it can under heavy braking, cause the brake fluid to boil resulting in a loss of pedal when you most need it. (You may have experienced this if you ever track your car. Certainly, you will have heard your friends talk about it!).
- Because water is denser than brake fluid, it will gravitate to the lowest point in the system which will result in corrosion inside the master cylinder, calipers and brake lines if it is not flushed. The calipers are at the lowest point and generate the most heat, which is why brake fade is common under heavy braking.
- The above applies to the clutch hydraulics as well, which also use the same type of brake fluid. Some cars use a common reservoir for brake and clutch fluid.
- Keep a battery maintainer hooked up. Modern car batteries will drain very quickly from infrequent use due to the constant drain of the various computers which stay “awake” when the car is not running. It is not advisable to disconnect modern car batteries because of this. Older car batteries will also benefit from a maintainer but can generally be disconnected without any issue. Make sure to top up electrolyte-type batteries with distilled water.
- Check your tire pressures and overinflate by 5 psi. This will help to reduce “flat-spotting” during hibernation. Once the car is driven and the tires warmed up again, any vibrations from flat-spotting will generally disappear from most modern tires. (Be sure to reset your pressures when you take the car out of storage).It is important to check the tire pressures at least once during the storage period as a perfectly healthy tire will lose 1lb of air pressure for every 10-degree change in ambient air temperature. Note that this pressure loss will not be recovered. (Go check the tires on your neglected bicycle) This is one reason why they may be flat!