by Bob Schoenherr, Membership Director
Many Porsche owners store their cars in a garage for the winter. Of
course, in the midwest and northeast, this is a common yearly tradition.
It's great that in our area we don't need to do many of the items that
those cold souls do in theirs. However, many of us here in Northern
California may drive our Porsches only on weekends and during the winter
months maybe two or three times a month (Anita and I don't drive the 914
or the 912e as much in January and February, but we drive the Boxster
daily). Whether you are storing your autocross car or your weekend
driver collectible, I would suggest you try to do following with your
Porsche in the wintertime:
A. Change the oil and filter. Oils become acid over time, so even if you
haven't run the car, the oil could be picking up moisture, which in turn
B. Fill the fuel tank with fresh, premium gasoline. Condensation in the
tank is a problem in stored vehicles. If you can get non-ethanol
gasoline, it is best. Gasoline can become "gummy" over time, so it is
useful to add a gasoline stabilizer, which is available for lawn mowers
and other seasonal yard equipment. Yes, a lawnmower additive can save
your Porsche's gas tank!
C. Check all coolant levels, if applicable.
D. Inflate the tires to proper pressure, or over inflate while in
storage for a longer duration. Doing so can help the tires from
developing flat spots. The best way to avoid this completely is to put
the car on jack stands, but in many cases that is impractical. Just
expect a thump for a bit once you get the car back on the road.
E. Clean and wax the car. This should include under the car and wheel
wells. Clean the interior extensively; get rid of those McDonald's
french fries and old Krispy Crème doughnut pieces. By the way, food
leads to mold in a car's interior. Not good! Do not use Armor All® or
any preservative products; if you are in a cold environment, the
moisture from these chemicals expands and causes cracking!
F. If your garage is always in a moist environment, you might consider
placing a sheet of vapor barrier plastic under the car on the floor.
This will prevent water vapor buildup in a cold, unheated garage. Oh,
and also you get to see where the oil is leaking from when you drive
G. Open a window slightly, but not enough to allow small animals inside.
Put the top up if it's a convertible. Stuff a rag into the air intake
and exhaust to prevent animals from nesting, covering this with a metal
screen (911 and 912 owners, don't forget the smuggler's box - I always
have squirrels leaving acorns in mine). Once I put a moving blanket
inside the smuggler's box around the steering, my rat and squirrel
problem went away.
H. Use a battery maintainer if the car will be stored for more than a
month. If you do this, check the car manual to be sure you can use the
charger without disconnecting the battery (old cars with first and
second-generation alternators can sustain alternator diode damage from
almost any type of charger). To be on the safe side, disconnect the
battery and charge. There are cheap quick-disconnects out there, so you
don't need to pull the battery out of your car. Be sure not to confuse
the onboard computers, and be sure you have written down any needed
access codes for devices such as the stereo or alarm. As an alternative,
starting the car regularly and letting it run for 5 minutes might keep
the battery up during this otherwise dormant time.
I. Place a piece of plastic wrap or cloth on the windshield, under
the wiper blades. This will prevent the rubber from sticking to the
glass and leaving ghost marks.
J. Release the parking brake. If the brake is left on, the brake pads
can stick to the rotors or hubs. Place chocks under the tires to prevent
movement. Two-by-fours work on a level surface too.
K. If you live in "one of those neighborhoods", you will want to lock
the doors. It will deter someone from stealing your car or something
L. Use a soft cotton car cover if indoors. Be sure it has ventilation
(mine is so old it has plenty of holes for ventilation). Outdoor covers
can cause condensation, which is not good after all the work you've done
to your car.
Finally, make a note to yourself outlining what you did and what you
might need to do to make the car road ready. (e.g., remove rags, change
the air in the tires, reconnect the battery). Put this note on the dash
before you lock the car.
OPTIONAL: If you are a basic mechanic, you could remove the spark plugs
and spray a small amount of oil into the cylinders to prevent
rusting...but only if you are storing the car over three months. Special
"fogging oil" is available for storing boats and will work well for this
application. I always use a copper anti-seize lubricant on the plugs
when I reinstall them. Iron to Aluminum can cause threads to stick and
ruin the heads, which you don't want!
When the weather permits, you will have a nice, clean Porsche ready to
take out for Redwood Region events in 2012!