We woke up last week to a blanket of white. We couldn't believe it, snow! In October even. We weren't ready, not even close. Fortunately, our Porsche was. In fact, we had just put the 993 into a state of hibernation the day before.
For those of you who live in warmer climates, drive a Cayenne, or put snow tires on and drive your Porsche year-round, regardless of the weather, this post probably isn't for you (but you may want to check out this one on preparing your Porsche to drive through the winter). For the rest of you, do read on as it's that time of year again and you may be thinking about winterizing your Porsche.
When we first started FLATSIXES.com we focused only on air-cooled Porsches. Not wanting to discriminate we now include water-pumpers of both the front and rear-engined varieties. As usual, if we missed anything in our list, or your process differs, please let us know and we'll add it in next year.
Winterizing your Porsche: The Short Form
Below this list you'll find a detailed explanation of each step along with links to places for purchasing certain supplies.
- Set the date.
- Wash and clean, inside and out.
- Gas it up and include a fuel additive like STA-BIL.
- Fill your tires to the maximum pressure allowed by your tire; or, use a set of tire cradles that are shaped to the tire and help to prevent flat spots without the need to over inflate.
- For those of you pumping more water than oil through the pipes, be sure the check and top off your anti-freeze.
- Disconnect the battery or attach a trickle charger.
- Put the car in gear or park and don’t apply the parking brake.
- You might consider placing some type of reusable desiccant in the car, like this Peli Desiccant Silica Gel if your garage is not climate controlled. Remember, you will need a number of these as the interior of your Porsche is a large space (we use five of them in the 993). You can easily check them once a month or so and reactivate them per the instructions.
- Cover it.
- Call your insurance company and let them know the car is off the road. In most cases you can reduce all your coverages to minimum and remove the liability insurance (in some states this can save you as much as $100 per month).
- Play racing games, drive simulators and wait for the snow to melt and the salt to get washed away so you can prepare to drive your Porsche again in the Spring.
Preparing your Porsche for Winter Storage
1. Set the date: Living in New England, We're never sure what the weather is going to be from one minute to the next. As fall gets closer to winter we pay closer and closer attention to the weather. We're obsessed with keeping our cars clean and rust free (something that’s hard to do with the amount of salt placed on the road during a typical New England winter). So, rather than taking any chances, we watch the weather and make sure to have our cars prepped and ready before the first snow flies.
2. Clean it inside and out: The cleaner the car is when you put it away, the better it will look every time you check in on it. We usually do a complete wash and a put a quick coat of wax on just for that added protection. Don’t forget the wheels. The last thing you want to do is leave brake dust on your rims to sit and eat at the finish for the winter. In fact, if you get the wheels good and clean you might consider putting on some Armor All Wheel Protectant. This stuff works amazing and will make keeping your wheels clean and brake dust free come next driving season.
3. Gas it up: Make sure you have as full a tank as possible. I make it a point to gas up at the station closest to my garage right before I put away my car. With a full tank you help to keep out any unwanted condensation or water build up that can happen when a car sits all winter long.
3a. Use a fuel additive: I like STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer. Read the directions and use the proper amount for your tank size. The key with any fuel additive is to put it in prior to filling the tank and then to make sure you drive for a few miles to get the additive throughout the entire fuel system.
4. Tire Pressure: There's not need to put your car on jack-stands (which most wouldn't recommend anyway). Simply put a good amount of tire pressure in each tire. Make sure you don’t over inflate past the manufacturers recommend capacity, but you should go over the recommend driving pressure. In general, tires can lose 1 psi per month under normal conditions and an addition 1 psi per ever 10 degree (Fahrenheit) drop in temp. As a general rule of thumb, I put 50lbs of pressure in each tire. You have to remember to do this when the tires are cold or you won’t get an accurate reading and you may end up with flat spots. There is nothing worse then taking your Porsche out for the first time in the spring and having damaged tires due to flat spots from storage. Properly inflated tires will avoid this.
Another option to consider is to use some type of tire cradle. Basically, this is a shaped piece of plastic or hard foam that “cradles” your tire and will keep them from developing those dreaded flat spots. One such product to consider are Flatstoppers from Brute Industries. (the makers of RaceRamps.)
5. Check and top off the anti-freeze: With the introduction of the Porsche 996, Porsche gave us the first production, water cooled motor in a 911 (don't forget about the motors in the 924, 944, 928 and 968 series either). Each new Porsche model since has continued this water pumping tradition. Regardless if your Porsche is stored indoors or out (you never know if your indoor space may loose power) it is a good idea to to check and top off all your fluids, paying special attention to your engine coolant/anti-freeze. Once topped off, be sure to run the car for a few minutes to ensure that fluids are properly circulated throughout the engine block. The last thing you want is to come back in the spring and find your beloved Porsche weeping green tears into a puddle around the tires.
6. Battery Maintenance: Some people like to take the battery out of their cars or at least disconnect them. Not us. We like to use some form of Battery Tender to make sure our battery is always fresh and ready to go. It would be a shame to get a nice Spring day, go to start the car and find you have a dead battery (not to mention, it can get expensive replacing your battery every year).
Let’s face it, the electronics in a modern Porsche tend to eat up a battery pretty easily if the car isn’t used frequently. So, either disconnect it or put on some type of Battery Tender. What you definitely want to avoid is starting your Porsche and letting it “warm-up” or run to charge the battery. This simply allows condensation to develop or collect in your motor (you won’t get it hot enough to burn it off) and can possibly cause long-term damage. Don't believe us? Look in your manual, you will see this is not recommended. A few additional things to remember if you do decide to disconnect the battery: 1. you will need to have your radio code handy in the spring to get your system functioning again. 2. If your Porsche is equipped with an electronic hood latch, be sure not to close the hood all the way. If you do, you will need to jump the switch through the fuse box which is entirely all to annoying when you simply want to drive your baby again. A simple way to avoid this is to place a small piece of foam padding under the latch preventing it from engaging.
7. No Parking Brake: We always just leave our car(s) in gear or in park and left the parking brake off. Different people say different things about this step, but we’ve always felt, why risk it? Why risk having the parking brake freeze or bind over months of storage. We’ve heard others say that long term use of the brake system can stretch the cable and weaken the system. If you are worried about your Porsche going for a drive without you behind the wheel, a simple and inexpensive wheel chock works very well. If you don’t want to spend the money on something application specific, grab a piece of wood from the pile and snug it under a tire. This will work just as well.
8. Keep it dry: Moisture is your enemy during long term storage. The best way to win over the wet is with the use of simple dessicant packs. Personally, I like these Peli Desiccant Silica Gel Packs because they are inexpensive, self contained and more importantly, reusable. Five or six of these should be sufficient for most Porsche applications (you'll need more for a Cayenne or Panamera). At the end of the season (if you have a lot of moisture you may want to check more frequently) simply place it in the oven until the color changes back indicating dry and you’re ready for the next season.
9. Cover it: Even if your car is in a nice heated garage, securely tucked away with the key hidden, we’ve always thought it a good idea to keep our cars covered. This way, you don’t have to worry about anyone or anything bumping into or crawling on or over you nice paint. We use a thick, padded, custom fitted cover from California Car Covers. If you do use a cover make sure it covers your exhaust pipes. If you don’t use a cover (or yours doesn’t cover the pipes), you might want to think of covering your pipes with something (those big 16 oz keg cups work great. simply insert them into your pipe bottom first). The idea behind this is to keep out any rodents that might want to try and build a nest for the winter. You laugh, but we’ve seen it happen to friends cars and it can be very frustrating and expensive. If you’re looking for a cover and don’t want to spend the money on a custom one, Empire Covers offers the lowest price for car covers of anyone else we've seen!
10. Save some money: We know that many of you may not have access to winter storage and as a result, need to rent storage space from a local garage or self-storage area. A great way to help offset the cost of this storage area is to reduce your insurance coverages. Specifically, call your insurance company and let them know you're taking the car off the road for the season. They should remove all the liability coverage (as you won’t be driving) and reduce your other coverages to the state required minimums. Depending on where you live and the type of coverage you have on your Porsche this could save you anywhere from $50 to $500 a year in insurance costs.
That’s it, you're Porsche is now ready for a rest and you can begin planning your drives for next spring. Remember, your Porsche will get lonely so be sure to visit often. One of the main reasons we purchased our Porsches was the look of the 911. It’s a work of art that gives us enjoyment every time we see them. So, when we don’t get to drive over the winter, we sneak a peek into the garage at least once a week, just to check in.
Is there anything we missed? Do you have other steps in your winterization process that other readers may benefit from? If so, let us all know by commenting below.