by Justin Mckeown. images courtesy of Dana Comolli and Justin Mckeown. technical oversight courtesy of Michael Grove.
‘Tis the season…that we as car enthusiasts dread. The leaves have fallen, cold fronts have set in, and the wail of a flat-6 at full song has echoed off into the distance as a wishfully short winter begins. As painful as it may be going through the ritual for winter storage is, it is key to ensuring a spritely spring, whenever that time may come. So, without further adieu, here are some helpful tips for preserving our beloved vehicles for their upcoming slumber.
Change the oil and check your fluids
Oil is the lifeblood of an engine, which should come as no surprise. However, what may come as a surprise is the rationale behind the timing of your annual oil change. With time and exposure to condensation, oil may break down and become acidic, negating it’s protective properties.
For the casual driver that tends to perform an annual oil change, it is recommended to do so before putting the car away for storage. In addition, now is a good time to ensure your coolant and brake fluids are fresh and replacement them if they are at or near their recommended service interval.
Fill ‘er up
Top up the fuel in your car before storing it for the winter. Doing so removes the available space for condensation to build up within your fuel tank. Condensation is the enemy of preservation and the less air in the tank, the better. Ensure you add fuel-stabilizer as well, either at the gas station, or at home. If you add the stabilizer at home, allow ten minutes or so of the engine running to let it spread throughout the fuel system. You want the stabilizer to thoroughly mix with the gasoline and reach your fuel lines and injectors. Simply putting it in the tank without running your car will only protect the gas in your tank, leaving your fuel lines and injectors at the mercy of our modern, ethanol laced fuels.
For those of us that choose to deviate from ECU’s and injectors in favor of venturis and jets, it is advised to drain the carburetors and bowls, as well as the fuel lines when storing the car.
In addition to topping up the gas, top up your tires. This step is especially important in conjunction with providing a barrier between your tires and bare concrete. Cold winter weather can cause the tire pressure to decrease 5psi or more over the duration of winter. Inflating to within 5 psi of the maximum pressure is recommended to the prevent flat spotting that may occur from storing at normal operating pressures.
If you are unsure what the maximum inflation pressures for your tires are, check the information stated on the sidewalls of the tire.
There are other techniques that can be used to prevent flat spotting. These include using carpet squares under your tires or specialized products such as Flatstoppers.
Flatstoppers, shown below, not only prevent flat spots, but also double as chocks. This is key, as you should park without the parking brake engaged and leave the transmission in neutral (not applicable to tiptronic and PDK equipped models. Leave these in Park.) If you choose to not go this route, it is still recommended to park without the parking brake engaged to prevent anything from becoming seized over the winter and to chock the wheels to prevent the car from moving unexpectedly.
Finally, while you’re down there, this is also a good time to check the date code and condition of your tires. With date codes approaching 7 years as well as tires that are nearing their end of life, you should consider buying replacements in the spring. Being the only thing between the car and the road and with the “spirited drives” many of us may be attuned to, being familiar with their condition and keeping them in tip-top shape cannot be overstated.
Do sweat the small stuff
Give your baby a proper spa day before saying good-bye for an unknown amount of time. This should include blowing out any debris that may have built up near the radiators, as they are notorious for collecting leaves, dirt, and all other sorts of incomprehensible crud that would ruin them over time.
Regarding the interior, clean it properly and apply conditioner to any parts of the interior that require it; with leather and alcantara being the most obvious. Pay extra attention the window seals. Apply a protectant such as Vinylex (pictured) to them.
If your garage is temperature controlled keep the windows cracked just a touch when you’re all done. Cracking the windows takes the pressure off the seals while in storage, and allows for some ventilation to prevent moisture buildup in the interior. If your garage or storage facility is not temperature controlled, it is advised to leave the windows up.
Additionally, place something inside to help combat moisture buildup. This is suggested regardless of the type of storage environment you are using. There are products available specifically designed for this, but a box of baking soda will also work to wick away moisture.
Another detail that that is key to making sure your car is in driver-ready condition is keeping the battery healthy. Cold and temperature fluctuations are major causes of premature battery death. There are two common methods to prevent the eagerly awaited first drive from becoming a nightmare. The first is to get a battery tender that plugs into the cigarette outlet. The Porsche branded units are manufactured by C-tek and are as simple to use as plugging in a connection to a wall outlet and the cigarette outlet. The other common approach is to get a battery tender that is already wired on to your battery. These often have a long enough cable to allow it to be routed out through the top of your hood and plugged in from there.
Whatever your approach is, the use of a battery tender cannot be stressed enough. With the complexity of opening the hood on a Porsche with a dead battery, it is a no-brainer, must-do step. If your vehicle is an older-generation without complicated electronics, there is also the option to pull the batteries and keep them on a tender outside of the car.
If you are new to being hands on with your car and unsure if the connections you are about to make are correct, ask someone. Reversing the connections can be catastrophic and there is no shame in phoning a friend.
Blocking the exhaust helps prevent your car from becoming the P-car Inn for unwanted visitors during the winter. Steel wool is a widely used item and is also readily available. For cars with intakes such as Turbos, these should be blocked as well. Placing mouse traps around the car can also discourage rodents from taking up residence in your Porsche.
I personally like to lace the car with dryer sheets. Reportedly, rodents are repelled by dryer sheets and I place them by the airbox, cabin air filter, and position several throughout the interior. Also, don’t forget the frunk/trunk.
Place additional dryer sheets anywhere there is a high concentration of wires. A rogue mouse can quickly leave you with an incomprehensibly high bill to get things rewired. A pleasant side affect of this step is that it makes the car smell fresh in the spring.
The Final Step
Now that the car has been topped up, cleaned properly, ready for cold temperatures and the no vacancy are signs posted; place your cover on the car and rest easy knowing that your beloved Porsche will be ready and willing when the snow clears and the long awaited first drive arrives.
Those with convertible tops, leave the top stored up and in the fully closed position for the winter.