Thursday, October 30, 2008

Winterizing Tips from WT Roadsters

Winter is coming up quick. Bill Thomas was kind enough to put together a list of items he does with his Elise, Triumph and supercool motorbikes:

  • Wash and if possible wax/detail vehicle. Make sure vehicle is completely dry before permanent parking. If it is not possible to wash and/or detail car then at minimum it should be wiped down. Remove all items such as paper, food, etc. from interior. The less clutter the better as this will help prevent rodents from wanting to move in.

  • If vehicle is to be stored throughout the winter without any chance of being driven, inflate all tires to 5 psi above maximum inflation pressure stated on tire sidewall. This will help reduce flat-spotting of tires during extended imobilized storage. You can go one step further in preventing flat spots by parking vehicle on dense rubber pads large enough to cover contact patch of tire. A 12''x12'' square one to two inches thick at each wheel is sufficient.

  • Change oil and filter if possible. Clean oil sitting in the cooler(s), filter and sump for upwards of six months is better than dirty oil!!!

  • Fuel tank should be completely full. This will prevent condensation from forming on the inside of the tank walls should there be a rapid change in temperature and humidity.

  • Check all fluid levels (coolant, brake, clutch, wiper resivoir) and adjust levels as required. Be sure to verify freeze protection of coolant/antifreeze solution in both the engine and windshield reservoir.

  • Remove battery from vehicle and store in a warm, dry climate utilizing a battery tender. Make sure windows are fully closed first. If a warm, dry area is not available such as a basement or garage, place battery on a wood plank with tender attached. The wood will act as an insulator between the ice cold floor of an unheated garage and the battery. The current flow created by the battery tender will generate a slight amount of heat in the battery. This is a good thing and will help prevent freezing.

  • If storage area has a tendency to become damp or experience rapid temperature and humidity changes (an uninsulated garage is a good example) you should spray a light mist of WD-40 or silicone in engine bay completely covering everything. This will prevent corrosion on some of the aluminum and steel engine-related parts (ECU, Air Flow Meter, misc. fittings and fixtures). Do not over-do it with the spray. Make it shine, not drip!!

  • Once you have completed the checklist, your final task will be to cover the car with a soft, quality car cover. It should be able to 'breath', meaning that moisture can pass from the vehicle surface through the cover fibers to atmosphere. This will help protect paint and trim from staining should the cover get wet or surface condensate.

  • Finally, if the vehicle is accessable during the storage period, you may check its well-being as often as you care to. I have stored vehicles for 8-12 month stretches without any problems.

  • One final important tip: DO NOT start the car and let it run for a few minutes at a time sporatically throughout the storage period. I know many people out there think this is a good idea but it is not. This practice will rapidly contaminate the engine oil and fill your exhaust with condensation (water!). BAD, VERY BAD!

Thx to Bill Thomas, WT Roadsters, NJ Sector111 Authorized Dealer & Katana Installer (908) 313-4482 or

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