We always hate to admit it, but when it gets cold enough out that it’s deemed “hoodie weather” the sad truth is that our summer fun has passed us by for another year. Whether it’s your car, bike, boat, trailer or any other summer toy, the time has likely come to pack them up and put them away for the winter.
Unlike the kid’s toys, you can’t just shove your summer toys into a pile in the garage to pull-out and dust off come spring time. It takes a little preparation, sometimes from the professionals, to keep these units in tip-top shape. So take the time now, so you don’t miss a moment of the season when the weather turns again.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get your summer possessions ready for storage.
Cars and Motorcycles
- You’ll want to start by performing an oil change and topping up all fluids
- Fill your tank with gas, adding fuel stabilizers to avoid depletion and condensation
- Inflate your tires to the recommended PSI to prevent them from flattening from lack of use
- Clean your car or bike, inside and out, the best you can. This is the greatest prevention for rust or corrosion. If there’s stains on any of the upholstery, remove them now as well or risk having the stain become permanent
- Vehicle batteries kept in the cold can freeze or crack, so you’ll want to disconnect the battery, as well as turn off the alarm and store it in a warm, dry place
- Put on your vehicle cover, with all compartments securely fastened. For extra protection, consider using an interior car jacket
- After you’ve done everything to store your vehicle, do not start it up again. This can add moisture build up in the engine, especially if it doesn’t get the chance to warm up to operating temperature
Boats, Engines and Personal Watercraft
- There are a lot of variations on how to winterize your watercrafts depending on the models, type, the power, etc. An incorrectly winterized engine can become severely damaged and potentially ruined by leftover water
- Fill the gas tank and treat it with a good fuel stabilizer. Despite what the instructions may say, double the dosage to ensure the fuel supply is completely treated. Run the engine for at least half hour to ensure the treated fuel gets from the tank into the engine
- For two-stroke engines, spray engine tuner into the intake while the engine is running. This will help break down hard carbon deposits on the pistons, rings and cylinder heads
- Use quality engine fogging oil to fog the engine
- Drain out the old gear lubricant from the gear case/drive unit. If the old lube you removed is black and smelly or milky, brownish with water in it, resolve the left behind residue before you put in new lube.
- For inboard motors, four-stroke outboard motors, stern drives and personal watercrafts, you’ll want to change the engine oil and filter
- Grease your fittings, such as the steering
- Remove propeller(s) and if damaged, send out to be repaired over the winter
- Store outboards with the engine in its running position to ensure leftover water in the gear case has a chance to drain
- Tape the exhaust outlets shut to prevent pests from entering and making your vehicle their hibernating spot
- Disconnect your battery and store it in a warm, dry location with trickle charger installed
- Wash your watercraft, inside and out, and add a protective finish wax for extra coverage
- Use a ventilated cover for the watercraft to prevent moisture from becoming trapped
- Perform maintenance on the unit (repack wheel bearings, wiring, check/repair lights, check/replace winch strap, rotten bunk boards/covering, etc.)
- Lubricate your pivot points (tongue jack, coupler, etc.)
- If you can, jack up the axle and block so tires are off the ground to reduce the chance of flat spotting and rot
- If possible, remove wheels and tires and store them inside
If you’re not of the handy variety, ensure you consult your dealer, such as FFUN Motor Sports or a local pro to help you to ensure you don’t miss a costly step. The last thing you want to run into is a cracked block, drive housing or clogged carburetors and their costly repair bills come springtime. Though it’s never fun to put away these toys for the winter, it’s all but necessary to keep your car, bike, boat, trailer and more, lasting for years to come. Take the time now and you can enjoy the ride the minute the snow melts next year.