It's that time of year again, at least for those of us who don't drive our Porsches year round. It's time to start thinking about putting your Porsche away for a long winter nap. This post won't be relative for those of you who are fortunate enough to live in a climate that allows you to drive your Porsche year round, brave enough to put winter tires on and and drive your Porsche through the winter, or for those of you that own a Cayenne. For the rest of you read on.
Each year I put together a list of the steps taken to winterize my Porsche(s). As my cars are all
oil air cooled, I thought I would make it a point this year to include steps for those of you with water pumpers (why discriminate). It seems that I keep adding a new step every year, so if I missed something below that you include in your winterization process, please let me know by commenting at the end of this post.
The longer version is below with a detailed explanation of each step. However, for those of you in a hurry, here's the short version:
- 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. 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 your Porsche is off the road for the season. Depending on your state's requirements, they may have some suggestions on how you can save money.
- 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, I'm never sure what the weather is going to be from one minute to the next. As fall gets closer to winter I pay closer and closer attention to the weather. I'm obsessed with keeping my cars clean and rust free and 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, I watch the weather and make sure to have my car 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. 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.
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 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.
4. Tire Pressure: If you’re not going to put your car up on jack-stand (which I don’t recommend), the next 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.
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 Flat Stoppers 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. 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 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. 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: I've always just left my car(s) in gear of in park and left the parking brake off. Different people say different things about this step, but I've always felt, why risk it? Why risk having the parking brake freeze or bind over months of storage. I'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 Desiccant Silica Gel Packs from Pelican because they are inexpensive, self contained and more importantly, reusable. Five or six of these should be sufficient for most Porsche applications. 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, 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 (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). 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!
That's it, your 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 I purchased my Porsches was the look of the 911. It's a work of art that gives me enjoyment every time I see. So, when I don't get to drive over the winter, I sneak a peek into the garage at least once a week, just to check in. 🙂
Is there anything I 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.