Q—I am getting ready to put my car up for the winter, just after the color tour. What do you recommend? –Pete
A—This simple check list is all it takes:
1) Wash the car a week or two before you cover it up, allow all the water to evaporate.
2) Clean the wheels to remove all the brake dust before you store the car. Your best bet is to remove them first. When you do, you can clean your beautiful brake calipers with the wheels off. Brake dust contains corrosive elements. You do not want that on your wheels and calipers all winter.
3) Clean the interior, under the seats, in the map pockets, check the glove box for missing receipts and don’t forget any other compartments as well as the trunk(s).
4) Wax the car. If it needs a good buffing, do that before you wax it. Now that your wheels are clean, wax them too.
5) Use a protectant on the vinyl trim and rubber. Use a leather treatment on the seats.
6) Fill your tires to the maximum pressure allowed and for added benefit, consider tire cradles to keep them from flat spotting. Don’t worry too much about that however, my tires flat spot over the winter and when I get the car out in the spring, it takes a week or two and the problem goes away. It is important to remember to adjust the pressures back to their proper spec when getting the car OUT of storage. I will often write myself a note to that effect and tuck it in front of the steering wheel, so I’m sure to see it when I get in the car in the Spring.
7) Consider a battery cut off switch. If you do not have one, disconnect the negative terminal from the battery until you are ready to fire it up. If you have an electrically operated front hood latch, I suggest that you place something to obstruct the latch. If you don’t, and it shuts, you will have to jump power to get it open in the springtime.
8) Use a modern high quality battery tender, not a trickle charger, to keep the battery up to snuff. If the unit you have in your car was installed by the dealer when you bought it, go online and investigate the wisdom of replacing it with a newer version. Ask me why later.
9) Fill the tank with gas. When the tank is full, there is no air space in the tank which can contain moisture. Put some Sta-Bil in the tank and one can of premium gas line treatment containing isopropyl alcohol.
10) If your car is due for an oil change, change it before you store it. If not, don’t worry about it.
11) Have you had your annual brake fluid flush? Better to do it more frequently than less. Brake fluid absorbs water from the air and letting it sit in the brake system all winter is not a good idea.
12) Purchase a carpet remnant for your garage’s cement floor. This will keep condensation down. –MC