4 things you need to know before putting your car to bed for winter
You'll thank us when you come to start it in spring…
Yes, yes – we know that a large proportion of you lovely DriveTribers use your cars all-year round, which is fine. But we also know that plenty of you have special cars that you don't want to expose to the harsh realities of winter driving – namely salt, slush and the chance of doing a completely unplanned 360 noscope into a nearby hedge because of black ice.
Whatever your reason for putting your car into hibernation, it's well worth giving it a bit of pre-sleep TLC. Here's our list of things to check and do before tucking your loved one up for winter.
Don't put it to sleep thirsty
It might seem counter-intuitive, but try to fill up before putting your car into storage
There's a school of thought that you're best off making sure your beloved car (or motorbike, for that matter) has a full tank of fuel before tucking it away for a few months. The reason is that condensation can build up in empty fuel tanks as the temperature drops, which can then cause the tank to corrode from the inside.
Diesel vehicles can suffer the extra problem of something called diesel pest or diesel bug, which is essentially when bacteria forms in your diesel (which itself can absorb moisture, which isn't ideal), which also causes corrosion. Our friends at Liqui Moly sell a special anti-bacterial diesel additive for this very reason, and if you're hibernating a petrol vehicle then check out their petrol stabiliser, which also helps prevent corrosion.
Clean your injectors
If you're not going to run your engine for a good few months then whack some injector cleaner into your fuel tank and run your engine for a bit to loosen up and remove any old crud that's been forming in your injectors, leaving them free to fire your engine back into life when the rabbits start jumping around in the fields in spring.
Do an oil change – but thoroughly clean out the old stuff first
Even a Ferrari needs some TLC over winter. Actually, a Ferrari *especially* needs some TLC...
It's usually recommended that you change your oil before putting a car into storage, simply because old knackered oil can turn slightly acidic and cause corrosion in your engine. To make sure you're getting as much of the old oil out of your engine as possible, use something like Liqui Moly's Motor Clean – you simply add it to your old oil, then let the engine idle for 10-15 minutes before dropping the oil out. It just helps remove any sludge that wouldn't trickle out in a normal oil change.
Don't forget your electrics
Avoid having to break these out next spring by putting your car on a trickle charger
Hopefully you'll be able to put your car's battery on a trickle charger when it's tucked away – and if you don't have somewhere warm to store your car, it's sometimes worth bringing the battery into a shed or utility room to charge it over winter. If you're leaving it in the car or on your bike, then it's worth greasing the battery terminals using a dedicated terminal clamp grease to prevent corrosion and awkward starting when you come to use it again.
You'll also want to attack any electrical connections with a dedicated contact cleaner spray – it's worth applying it to plugs, fuses, switches, alternators… anywhere where an electrical connection is made. Again, this will help reduce the risk of having to troubleshoot connections next year.