When most people think about winterizing their Porsche, it’s usually with the intent to store the car for some period of time and avoid driving it through cold and winter like weather. What about those of you who drive your cars through the winter? No, I’m not talking about all you lucky Porsche owners that live in temperate climates where the idea of winterizing your car is turning off the air-conditioning and making sure the windows still roll down. This is for those of you who either choose to drive your Porsche through the cold, rain, sleet, snow and salt for your perverted enjoyment and/or out of necessity as your daily driver.
Can I Drive My Porsche in the Winter
Contrary to popular belief many Porsches, especially the 911 models, makes great winter drivers if prepared and outfitted properly. Due to the rear-engine design of the 911, a considerable amount of weight sits on or behind the rear wheels. Combine this significant grip creating weight with proper winter driving tires and your Porsche will handle as well, if not better, than most family sedans. If you’re fortunate enough to have an all-wheel drive model (no, I’m not talking about the Cayenne), then the grip is nothing short of legendary.
One of the most common misconceptions about driving your Porsche in the winter, especially over salty roads, is that it will harm your finish and reduce the life-span of your car. The fact is, Porsches are fully galvanized and have been since 1976. As a result, they are resistant to salt and rust and with a little preventative maintenance it’s easy to drive your Porsche in inclement weather and still experience years and years of rust free enjoyment. For those cars built prior to rust-proofing, you’re out of luck and for sake of preservation it’s best to put them away for winter storage using the proper techniques.
Tips for Preparing and Maintaining your Porsche for Winter Driving
- Buy Snow Tires for Your Porsche: This is probably the most important aspect of preparing your Porsche for winter. All season tires are great if you live in a temperate climate. However, if you’re going to face any snow at all I strongly recommend you get a dedicated snow tire. In fact, the best solution is to get a second set of wheels and tires specifically for winter driving. The benefit here is you don’t damage your nice Porsche wheels from big winter potholes, hidden curbs and the stress of changing tires before and after each season. In addition, it makes storage and mounting much faster, easier and cheaper in the long run. I recommend shopping for winter tires at Tire Rack. They have a long list of Porsche approved winter tires, are competitively priced and provide the easy ability to buy a combination tire and wheel set.
- Check Your Fluids: Do you drive an air-cooled (oil-cooled) Porsche? If so, you might consider changing your oil to a thinner viscosity for the duration of your cold weather driving. Low viscosity motor oils that pour easily at low temperatures typically have a "5W" or "10W" rating. There are also 15W and 20W grade motor oils. This page offers some good basic information on oil-viscosity. If you drive one of the newer water-pumpers (996, 986, 977, etc.) be sure to check your coolant level and condition. Consideration should be given to the quality and amount of coolant currently in the system. If possible, you might want to take the opportunity to have the coolant system flushed, cleaned and refilled with fresh anti-freeze. Lastly, don’t forget that all important windshield washer fluid. There’s nothing worse then getting caught behind an SUV or big truck kicking up that “salt-mist” and trying to scrape it off the windshield with dry wipers as you listen to your washer motor pump away against an empty reservoir.
- Don’t neglect the body: Just because your Porsche is rust proofed, doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to help provide even better protection. A good thorough cleaning for your Porsche, prior to the winter weather, is a must. Be sure to put a good quality wax on the car before the bad weather starts. This added layer of protection will make it easier to rinse the accumulated dirt, dust and salt away during and after the winter weather. If you want to take things a step further, you can even put a coat of wax on your wheels for even more protection.
- Avoid pressure washing: I know it’s tempting to use those high-pressure washers to clean the salt and sand off your car over the winter (especially the touch free drive through) but if possible, it’s best to avoid them. Why? Simple. Instead of rinsing the salt gently from your cars finish, those high-pressure systems can actually drive the salt deep into places you don’t want it and possibly accelerate or start the corrosion problem (not to mention it will more quickly strip off your nice pre-winter wax job). A better solution (if you have the time and facilities) is to simply rinse with a garden hose or use the low pressure setting on the do it yourself type of car wash.
- Check tire pressures monthly:Tire pressure can change by one (1) psi for every 10 degree farenheit change in temperature (use manufacturer-recommended pressure). I live in the North East which experiences huge temperature swings and I'm constantly check my tire pressure. A good Porsche tire gauge with case is a must!
Besides preparing your Porsche for winter, what about actually driving it in the winter? Porsche offers a number of different winter driving schools and they look like a lot of fun. The tips below are mostly common sense, but we all know not every driver is blessed with this quality.
Winter Driving Tips Straight from the Porsche Camp4 Colorado Driving School
- Cars respond more slowly on slippery surfaces. Always wait a moment after steering, braking, or accelerating to see how the car behaves before giving it more input.
- Visibility is greatly reduced in bad weather. Make sure you can see clearly, and turn on your headlights.
- Brake carefully and accelerate more gently.
- Get the car pointed where you want to go before getting on the gas.
- Be aware of reduced grip.
- Take corners at lower speeds.
- Brake sooner and longer than on dry surfaces.
- Apex later.
- Look for fresh snow - it provides more grip.
- Avoid icy ruts.
- Look farther ahead. So many of us keep our eyes glued to the back of the car in front of us. The car goes where you look, so get those eyes up and anticipate your next move!
Lastly, if you do happen to drive an all-wheel drive Porsche, be it a 911 or a Cayenne, please, please remember that all-wheel drive does not make you invincible. Yes, you may have slightly better grip and you might be able to accelerate faster, but you sure as hell can't stop any faster. Keep this in mind when you're on the highway driving a good 15 to 20mph faster than everyone else around you.
Do you drive your Porsche in winter conditions? If so, I would love to hear from you. Do you prepare your Porsche differently? Are there things I missed and can add to the the list?