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Storing cars for the winter (winterizing “show cars”)

Allpar members recommended:

  1. Change the antifreeze, with a thorough flush of the cooling system; change the oil and filter if needed.
  2. Add a fuel conditioner, such as Sta-Bil, and fill the tank to avoid condensation. The fuel conditioner keeps the additives and fuel in good shape for the months the car will be stored.

    snow
  3. Take the car on a long drive to heat it up and burn off condensation and other nasties. This also mixes the Sta-Bil thoroughly and gets it throughout the fuel system, including the carburetor. This should be the last thing you do before parking the car unless you do step 4. (Note: some recommend “running the engine dry” to empty the carb/injectors. Letting Sta-Bil go through the entire system may be a safer way to prevent carb gumming.)
  4. Put fogging oil into the carb or pistons -- it forms a thin oil coating on the cylinder walls to prevent corrosion.
    • The quick and easy way: spray it down the carb with the engine running, a couple of sprays will get the engine down to a sputter (the oil is coating the intake valves, carb parts, and cylinders). Trevor Post uses a quarter to a third of a can. “The key is not to cut the engine out with too much oil, but get it down to a sputter and have someone turn it off. You will get a lot of exhaust smoke so use it in a well vented area.”
    • The proper way: take each spark plug out of the engine and one good spray in the cylinder chamber will coat the piston/cylinder walls. Move the needle around to get a good coating. Do not need to overdo it but just follow the directions.
  5. Either use a high quality battery tender / trickle charger (be careful here since some don’t “trickle” but apply too much power) to keep the battery charged over the winter. Some recommend putting the battery into a warm, dry place, e.g. your basement; but you need to be careful here because a battery being charged can emit some nasty gases. Others suggest simply disconnecting the battery and bringing it someplace where it won’t freeze, and then recharging it when it’s needed; a battery should keep its charge for two or three months without help.
  6. Remove the floor mats so moisture can evaporate from the carpet.

    store cars for winter
  7. Some people recommend using a car cover, even in the garage, to avoid dust.
  8. Top off the fuel from a gas can to prevent condensation and rust on the top part of the tank (where the air gap would be).
  9. To keep the tires from getting flat spots, raise the car on jack stands. Some or most just increase the tire pressure (don't go crazy doing this). If you go out to raise the tire pressure you would do this during your “last drive.”
  10. Put mothballs in the car (in a container so they don’t hurt the carpet or upholstery); and tape the tailpipe closed to prevent rodents from coming in. Also consider using dessicant bags or DampRid to avoid mold and mildew. Roll the windows down enough to allow air circulation, not enough to let mice in. (Which doesn’t require a lot!)
  11. Lay a sheet of plastic under the car to prevent surface rust depending on how you store the car.
  12. “Dress” all the weatherstripping.
  13. If you start the car during winter, make sure you drive it until it’s warm before you shut it off.
  14. Again, make certain that you prevent rodents from entering the engine and drivers compartment (better yet, the garage). They will do major damage to wiring and materials. Check the car periodically through the winter if you can in case rodents have nested.

Thanks, Michael Valentine, seanjnl1, and Hemi Andersen (of Hemi’s Independent Chrysler Repair, Saticoy, CA)

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