A Winter Car Storage Checklist

Miata In The Pack At NHISThis week I finally faced up to reality and put the Miata away for its first winter sleep in my care.  While I know that many Miata-ites are comfortable strapping on a hard top and tackling the snow and ice without a second thought, I am not willing to deal with the eventual corrosion issues that Canadian winters would visit on my track car.  I’m also not really a fan of driving the car with the top up – it sort of seems to suck the joy out of the time I spend in the Miata.

There are a number of different regimens that are subscribed to when it comes time to store a car for a decent length of time.  Being that my Miata is only going to be on the shelf for about 3 months, I decided to balance the hardcore with the practical, which kept me from going overboard in terms of preparing the car for its winter-long nap.  In a nutshell, here’s what I did to the car before I said goodbye:

  • A thorough wash and wax.  The idea behind washing and waxing a car before it sits for a long time is that you get all the dirt and grime currently on the vehicle off of the paint, and then seal it so that any chemicals that may have been sitting on the surface of the finish don’t have time to work their evil magic.  I used Klasse wax, as I have had good experiences with it before on my BMW.  A coat of wax also helps to protect that paint from any scuffing that could come from being in contact with the car cover for long period.
  • Inflated the tires above 35 psi.  I normally run between 27 and 30 psi in the tires, but to help prevent flat-spotting, I over-inflated them for the duration of the storage.
  • Vacuumed out the interior.  This makes sure any food – shhh, I do eat in my car at the track – is out of the picture to avoid attracting rodents and other pests.  I also removed the seat covers and seat foam so that they would have less to munch on should they manage to break into the passenger compartment.
  • Mothballs and steel wool.  The mothballs are in the interior, the trunk, and under the hood to discourage mice and squirrels from taking up residence.  The steel wool is stuck in the tailpipe to keep the same from making nests in the muffler or catalytic converter.  Some people also block off the air intake with steel wool, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered, and have never had trouble in the past.  Also, there are a few good mousing cats at the location where the Miata is sleeping, so they should at least provide me with an extra line of defense.
  • Removed the battery.  Fairly self-explanatory – with the battery out, I don’t have to worry about it slowly discharging over the course of the winter.

So that’s my winter storage checklist – no jack stands, no oiling up the cylinders, no fuel stabilizer – none of which I feel is needed for a three month period.  I would love to hear about your winter car storage rituals, methods and preferences in the comments.

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