Get Ready For Winter
Three great tips to protect your car while it is stuck in storage for the winter
By Jeff Huneycutt
When whoever it was first uttered the words, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” odds are they probably weren’t thinking about hot rods, muscle cars or classics. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true for our favorite four-wheeled toys.
Prevention is especially important for our prized hot rods because they can’t heal themselves. Sure, you can always replace a cracked windshield or repaint a scratched fender, but lots of components for older cars just aren’t available anymore and repairs cost time and money. We don’t know about ounces or pounds, but when it comes to cars prevention is always cheaper than repair, so perhaps the saying should be changed a bit. Maybe “a couple bucks spent on prevention is worth hundreds (or even thousands) in repairs.” There, that’s it.
This is definitely true when it comes to the damage that can occur to your car when it is allowed to sit for any extended period of time. And now that the seasons are changing and car enthusiasts in the northern half of the country are trying to enjoy their final few weekends before the white stuff starts falling, we thought we’d share a few great tips to help winterize your favorite car or truck. Heck, these winterizing tips are also great for your boat, motorcycle and RV.
Winterizing your car should involve just a little more than throwing a cover over the vehicle and locking the garage door. Thankfully, however, it really isn’t much tougher than that. The key to winterizing any vehicle is to keep the fluids it depends on from attacking it while it sits. That means you should deal with the fuel, the motor oil and the coolant before parking your car for the winter so that it runs just as well as you remember when you fire it back up next spring.
“I hear people say all the time that they put fresh oil in their car when they pull it out after the winter, but that’s the wrong time to do it,” explains Driven Racing Oil’s Lake Speed Jr. “It is so much better for your car to have fresh oil in the engine when you put it away for the winter.
“Old oil that has been in your car for a while contains combustion by-products, and those aren’t good for your engine,” he continues. “That (oil) includes bits of carbon, fuel and water, and those contaminants create acids that corrode your engine during storage. The longer it is stored, the more opportunity the acid has to corrode your engine from the inside out.”
Obviously, the best way to keep any acid from forming and harming your engine’s internals is not to have those contaminants in the oil. That’s why you want to drain the old oil and replace it with fresh, clean oil right before you put the car away for the winter. Just make sure to run the engine for a few minutes after changing the oil to make sure you have that fresh oil inside all the engine’s oil galleries and not just sitting in the bottom of the pan.
The motor oil you choose can also help keep your car in a healthy state throughout the long winter months. Besides their excellent lubrication qualities, Driven’s Hot Rod Oils actually contain better rust inhibitors than any other widely available motor oil. The package Driven uses was originally developed for use by the U.S. military for its vehicles, which often have to sit for extended periods but still be ready for rapid deployment. When it is time for action, the Army doesn’t have time to do a bunch of engine rebuilds, so if this additive package can prevent rust over extended periods in some of the worst conditions imaginable, you can imagine the excellent job it will do with your Camaro.
In addition, Driven’s HR Oils also have more Zinc (or ZDDP) than most other oils. Zinc is primarily used to protect the mating surfaces between the camshaft and flat tappet lifters by creating a sacrificial barrier that keeps the metal components from grinding themselves up. But that barrier also blocks air and oxygen from getting to the metal and the oxidation process cannot begin to create damaging rust. Plus, even if most of the oil has drained back into the pan over the winter, that protective coating left by the zinc will help keep your valuable engine components from eating themselves up until the oil pump is able to push fresh oil everywhere it needs to be.
These days, practically all gasoline blends contain some percentage of Ethanol. Ethanol is a form of alcohol which can actually draw moisture out of the air and into the fuel. While a car is in storage, moisture can build up in the fuel and corrode the metal in the carburetor, fuel pump and tank. Plus, the alcohol can dry out gaskets, the fuel pump diaphragm and rubber fuel lines, causing them to break down and leak faster.
Driven Racing Oil’s Carb Defender is a new product designed specifically to fight the harmful characteristics of Ethanol. Unlike most other products on the market, Carb Defender doesn’t try to chemically change the fuel—which can affect performance—instead, it creates a microscopic coating on everything in the fuel system to keep both the Ethanol and moisture from being able to do any damage. Plus, Carb Defender lubricates all the non-metallic components to keep them from drying out and cracking.
Carb Defender simply needs to be added to the fuel tank during a fill-up. It’s beneficial to any car when used on a regular basis, but it is also especially helpful as a winterizer. Just add a bottle to the last couple of tanks of fuel before the end of the driving season and your fuel system is protected all winter long. Read More About Ethanol Corrosion
In addition to using Carb Defender, you can also limit the amount of moisture that builds up in your fuel over the winter by storing your car with the tank completely topped off. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it works. By filling your tank absolutely full, that pushes out any air in the tank. The fuel tank is vented, so there is no way to completely get rid of contact with the atmosphere, but since the fuel is all the way up to the filler tube that means the fuel’s contact area with the atmosphere is a couple of square inches, instead of two or three square feet when the tank is only half full.
Have you ever wondered where all that sludge comes from when you drain the coolant from an engine block or radiator that’s been in there a little too long?
It’s from the water that you put into the radiator (usually in a 50/50 ratio with antifreeze) to protect your engine from overheating. That may be shocking to hear, especially since you probably drink water from the same tap that you used to fill your coolant system. But the sludge isn’t in your water, it is the product of a chemical reaction between minerals like calcium, sodium and magnesium that are common in tap water, and the metal in your engine block. Over time the chemical reaction creates not only that tell-tale sludge buildup, but also damaging corrosion inside the block that cannot be repaired.
“The purity and quality of water varies massively,” Speed says. “When you have dissimilar metals in the water and the engine block, it can create corrosion. That’s why we created CSP, which stands for Coolant System Protector, to protect cars from this problem. CSP uses a chemical called a chelant which basically functions as molecular police. The chelant bonds with the metals in the water, rendering them inert, or basically handcuffing them so that they cannot be the conductors for corrosion.”
Running CSP year round is a good idea, but if you are currently only running a blend of antifreeze and water it isn’t too late. Even if you don’t have the time, or the energy, to drain and flush your coolant system before putting your car away for the winter, just add a bottle of CSP and run the engine for a few minutes to thoroughly mix it with the coolant. Read Coolant System Tech Bulletin
By looking after these three areas and spending a few bucks on Driven products to protect your car or truck, you can save big money on repair bills down the road. And just as important, you can sleep easy knowing your car will run as well as it ever has after a long winter in storage. Now if there was only a way to keep dead bugs from sticking to your bumper and making their own polka-dot art, all of mankind’s greatest car problems would be solved.