You guys in California are going…..”put it away, what does he mean?…..winter….what is that?” Here in the colder climates of the Midwest, it is not uncommon to store your Porsche for a few months while the snow flies. Some of us will drive our P cars through 6 inches of snow, but others will choose to store the car in the garage for a few months during the peak of the cold weather. Here are some tips for storing your vehicle for the winter, so that once spring hits, you can jump in the car and go!
Change the oil: Even with synthetic oils, acids will build up in the oil, and these should not be left sitting in the engine for a few months. I may be one of a select few, but I change all my fluids at least once a year (oil of course more often, never over 6 months at a time), so typically I do the yearly swap before winter sets in. This includes transaxle and power steering. Fresh fluid will keep everything functioning properly.
Inflate the tires: Make sure your tires are full of air. Remember that as the temperatures drop, the air will contract, and your PSI level will drop in the tire. Overinflating the tires by a few pounds will help keep them around the proper levels during the winter, and keep the tires from flat spotting.
Fill the tank: Make sure you put away the car with a full tank of good quality gas. The more gas in the tank, the less area there is for water to form, thus contaminating the gas. A bottle of fuel stabilizer doesn’t hurt either. Make sure to add the stabilizer to the tank before filling it with gas to ensure a good mixture. If you will be starting the car on a regular basis through out the winter (discussed later), and live in a very cold climate, then add a bottle of Heat to prevent fuel line freeze up.
Clean the car: Especially if you are storing the car with a car cover on it, make sure to give the car a good washing (allow plenty of time for it to completely dry). Dragging a car cover over paint that is dirty will lead to micro scratches in the paint. Vacuum the interior and give the leather a good treatment.
Battery: There are two options you should take in the winter to prevent you from buying a new battery in the spring. Batteries don’t like to sit dead for periods of time. If your car has a very slow drain, over the course of a few months it can completely drain the battery, where it will sit dead for a month or more. This will keep the battery from holding a charge, and you will be buying a new battery in the spring. The first option (best if you are not starting the car every few weeks), is to pull the battery, charge it, and put it on the shelf (on a shelf, not a concrete garage floor). If you are going to be starting the car every few weeks, then invest $50 in a battery maintainer. This little item will keep a maintenance charge on the battery at a very low amperage, keeping the battery charged through the winter.
Coolant/Antifreeze: Lol, I know, some of you think this is a bad word. After all, coolant does not belong in a real Porsche right? Well, we will entertain those foolish waterpumpers and include them in the article ok? Before putting the car away for the winter, make sure the cooling system is properly protected. Coolant/antifreeze testers are available at your local walmart for a few bucks, and will tell you the degree that the antifreeze is effective to. Too much water in the mix, and you will not have as much protection below freezing (in extreme cases, blocks will crack when the mix freezes up). In most states this is not a problem, but in places such as Minnesota, if your car is not in a climate controlled environment, 30 below zero can do a number on a vehicle that is not properly prepared for it.
To start or not? Some people will pull the car in the garage, and not hit the key until spring. Others will start the car at least twice a month and allow the engine to get up to operating temperature before shutting it off again. I recommend the 2nd. Even in winter storage, starting the car every couple of weeks and letting it warm up will allow the oil seals to heat and expand, which helps to maintain the integrity of the seals. A seal that dries up over time will lead to oil leaks.
And to prove a Porsche can be driven in 8 inches of fresh snow (One with 800hp in fact)