Updated November 24, 2009: Over time, this post has evolved. As a result, I've added a few additional steps that you might find beneficial. If you are interested in this more complete list, then look at this updated post on How to Prepare Your Porsche for Winter Storage.
For a fortunate group of you, this post won’t be relative. Maybe your Porsche came with the optional snow-plow, you are lucky enough to live in a climate that allows for year-round driving, or, you love your Porsche so much, that you put on snow tires and zip around in the winter weather. If you fall into either of the two latter groups, then I'll have a post for you next week about Thing to do if you Drive Your Porsche Through the Winter. For the rest of us unlucky souls, we need to (or feel compelled to) put our car away for the winter.
I've always considered the day my car(s) (especially my Porsches) go away for the winter as one of the Worst Days of the Year. As bad as it is, you can still have fun (by driving your Porsche as much as possible) getting ready to put your p-car away. Here's how I prepare myself and my cars for their long winter nap. If any of you do things differently, or think I missed something, please do comment and let me know so I can update this post.
1. SET THE DATE
I live in New England (North Eastern portion of the US), so I’m always looking at the weather forecasts to see what to expect in the weeks to come. I’ve been fortunate enough to drive my cars all the way up to Christmas some years and in others I have had to put them away before Halloween (although it’s been a long time since that’s happened).
The first Porsche I ever purchased was a 1973 911 T (purchased in 1999) with 45k documented miles (two owners) and original paint. This car is pristine. As a result, I'm obsessed with keeping her as original and clean as possible. This means that the car never sees rain, let alone any snow or salt. Now, nine years later, with a 993 in the garage, I still find the idea of getting salt on my car repellent. So, watch the weather forecast and get your car inside before they start putting salt on the road. Remember, it doesn’t have to snow for them to salt. You can get salt on the roads from freezing rain too. As a general rule, I set a drop dead date for putting the car away and then watch the weather like a hawk so I don’t get caught.
2. MAKE A CHECKLIST
While this isn’t a necessity, it does make it easier if you haven’t put your Porsche away for a nice winter’s rest in the past. Things I recommend are as follows:
a. 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. I 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.
b. 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.
c. Use a fuel additive. I like Gold Eagle 22214 STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer. 32 oz.. 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.
d. Tire Pressure. If you’re not going to put your car up on jack-stand (which I don’t recommend), the best thing is to get 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. I use the Porsche tire gauge (I received it as a gift) to manage my tire pressure.
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 is the Flatstoppers produced by Brute Industries (the makers of RaceRamps.)
e. Battery. Some people like to take the battery out of their cars or at least disconnect them. Not me. I like to use some form of SuperSmart Battery Tender to make sure my battery is always fresh and I’m 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 SuperSmart 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. Look in your manual, you will see this is not recommended. Remember, if you do decide to disconnect the battery, you will need to have your radio code handy in the spring to get your system functioning again.
f. Cover it. Even if your car is in a nice heated garage, securely tucked away with the key hidden, I’ve always thought it a good idea to keep my cars covered. This way, you don’t have to worry about anyone or anything bumping into or crawling on or over you nice paint. I 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, you might want to think of covering your pipes with something (those big 16 oz keg cups work great). 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 I’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 Car Covers starting at $24.99!
3. DRIVE IT
This should probably be up at the very top, but I don’t want you to forget. The most important thing you can do prior to putting your toy away is to drive it and enjoy as you may not have her back on the road for another 4 to 6 months.
4. VISIT OFTEN
One of the reasons I bought my Porsches in the first place was that I just love the overall design of the 911 (I’m sure that was a major factor in your decision making process as well). I get a lot of enjoyment simply from looking at my car (although not as much as I do when driving.)
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