Bob Schoenherr  Tech Tips

  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 oxidizes.

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 away!

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 inside it.

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!


Snow on a Porsche 944

Snow Storage in the Foothills