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Winter storage question


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Folks,

I have been reading few threads regarding winter storage and there seems to be two different opinions as in whether you should turn your ignition on once in a while and some said don't turn the ignition on unless you plan to drive it for good 20 mins and up. Which one is true ?

Steven

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I think if you search the main magazines, and old car sites, you will find that the advice to run the car and drive it if you start it at all is the best advice.

I have had old cars and stored them for over 30 years now, and have been involved with the collector car industry for that long. the overwhelming majority of collectors say that you should NEVER just start an engine and run it for a few minutes every once in a while.

Why?

When you start an engine, especially in the cold months, but really anytime, the hot engine exhaust hits the cold pipes and creates condensation. Ever see a car drip water from the exhaust pipe when you first start it and even after several minutes? OF course you have. That comes from the condensation. the way to get rid of it is to drive till the exhaust, from the engine all the way to the tailpipe is hot, and during the winter that takes more than a few minutes.

Otherwise, if you just start it for a few minutes and then shut off, you get all that moisture sitting in the exhaust to help start and continue rust.

Same thing happens INSIDE the engine. Hot exhaust gases get into the oil pan area, and the condensation happens on the sides of the block. If you don't run the car till that burns off, you can start rust or a collection of moisture inside the engine.

Better to just let a car sit and do nothing, than just run it a few minutes once in a while.

My proof is that I have never had to replace an exhaust system on an old car whild I have been storing one. I even have had two cars that were over 20 years old with the ORIGINAL factory exhaust systems in excellent shape, inside and out. They were always stored with this method.

The battery will be fine on an inexpensive Battery Tender JR. There are other brands, but the Battery Tender brand is a good one. You want a MAINTAINER, not just a charger. These test the battery, then go into either a float maintain mode, or a slow charge to bring the battery to full power. They then let the battery go down in votage slightly before starting over again.

Non-sealed batteries might need water added every few months, so check this type of battery regularly. NO need to remove the battery if it is in good shape. Battery acid damage is a sure sign of one of two things: 1: The charging system is overcharging, or 2: the battery is going bad, causing the charging system to charge all the time.

A healthy battery and charging system won't create acid.

There is a lot more to storing cars, but basically to answer your question, leave your stored car alone till you can give it a real drive.

Don

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I think if you search the main magazines, and old car sites, you will find that the advice to run the car and drive it if you start it at all is the best advice.

I have had old cars and stored them for over 30 years now, and have been involved with the collector car industry for that long. the overwhelming majority of collectors say that you should NEVER just start an engine and run it for a few minutes every once in a while.

Why?

When you start an engine, especially in the cold months, but really anytime, the hot engine exhaust hits the cold pipes and creates condensation. Ever see a car drip water from the exhaust pipe when you first start it and even after several minutes? OF course you have. That comes from the condensation. the way to get rid of it is to drive till the exhaust, from the engine all the way to the tailpipe is hot, and during the winter that takes more than a few minutes.

Otherwise, if you just start it for a few minutes and then shut off, you get all that moisture sitting in the exhaust to help start and continue rust.

Same thing happens INSIDE the engine. Hot exhaust gases get into the oil pan area, and the condensation happens on the sides of the block. If you don't run the car till that burns off, you can start rust or a collection of moisture inside the engine.

Better to just let a car sit and do nothing, than just run it a few minutes once in a while.

My proof is that I have never had to replace an exhaust system on an old car whild I have been storing one. I even have had two cars that were over 20 years old with the ORIGINAL factory exhaust systems in excellent shape, inside and out. They were always stored with this method.

The battery will be fine on an inexpensive Battery Tender JR. There are other brands, but the Battery Tender brand is a good one. You want a MAINTAINER, not just a charger. These test the battery, then go into either a float maintain mode, or a slow charge to bring the battery to full power. They then let the battery go down in votage slightly before starting over again.

Non-sealed batteries might need water added every few months, so check this type of battery regularly. NO need to remove the battery if it is in good shape. Battery acid damage is a sure sign of one of two things: 1: The charging system is overcharging, or 2: the battery is going bad, causing the charging system to charge all the time.

A healthy battery and charging system won't create acid.

There is a lot more to storing cars, but basically to answer your question, leave your stored car alone till you can give it a real drive.

Don

Hello Don,

You mentioned "NEVER just start an engine and run it for a few minutes every once in a while" but you also stated "Better to just let a car sit and do nothing, than just run it a few minutes once in a while", can you be more sepcific, it seems to be contradicting to each other.

Steven

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You have to use some logic here of "why". There is no advantage to "starting" a car during the winter other then to charge the battery. Obviously to keep your battery alive you can do that with a trickle charger if needed. (note: my 4 year old battery survives every winter in Ohio w/o one charge in a cold storage garage). So if you feel compelled to start your car then the only reason you should go 20 minutes is to allow everything to get up to temperature inside the engine "stuff" so it burns off any water vapor which is obviously bad for a "sitting" system. Starting you car for 3 minutes will create condensation that never gets nuked as the engine never gets hot enough. So starting for short periods w/o getting up to temp is far worse then not starting at all.

Now there is merit (especially in older car, hell any car) to driving it from time to time to keep grease (c/v joint for example) from drying out and other systems flexible and lubed. But well cared for cars really don't need that either. We all know a car runs better when driven regularly then when sitting with little attention...so that is why the "drive logic" prevails.

Now before anyone jumps on here to challenge my logic about the engine keep in mind where we live our boats (from 12 footers to twin engine 1000hp go fasts) sit all winter in cold and warm storage here in Ohio w/o being started. Of course they are winterized which only means the fluids were changed and that fogging oil is dropped in the carborator. Those with FI go w/o. My boat is 22 years old and that is how it lived it's entire life...winterized, fogged and parked in a cold garage and those twin 351 Ford blocks start the first time...every time. I do pull the 3 deep cycle and 2 starting batteries and keep them in my warm garage and trickle charge them from time to time.

Now some tires will develop flat spots from setting all winter. I would suspect softer the compound (or cheaper the tire?) the more likely this is true. I have both cheap and soft (Kumho) tires and every spring the flat spot drives out in 2 minutes on the road. Older tires will obviously not "snap back" as well. You are better off to block a car to take pressure off the tires but that is not easy on a low car. Additionally a reduction in stress on struts can make them fail (I have heard)...I think the logic is that an unloaded strut can lose some gas? Not sure about that one...

Change fluids and park it is my theory.

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You have to use some logic here of "why". There is no advantage to "starting" a car during the winter other then to charge the battery. Obviously to keep your battery alive you can do that with a trickle charger if needed. (note: my 4 year old battery survives every winter in Ohio w/o one charge in a cold storage garage). So if you feel compelled to start your car then the only reason you should go 20 minutes is to allow everything to get up to temperature inside the engine "stuff" so it burns off any water vapor which is obviously bad for a "sitting" system. Starting you car for 3 minutes will create condensation that never gets nuked as the engine never gets hot enough. So starting for short periods w/o getting up to temp is far worse then not starting at all.

Now there is merit (especially in older car, hell any car) to driving it from time to time to keep grease (c/v joint for example) from drying out and other systems flexible and lubed. But well cared for cars really don't need that either. We all know a car runs better when driven regularly then when sitting with little attention...so that is why the "drive logic" prevails.

Now before anyone jumps on here to challenge my logic about the engine keep in mind where we live our boats (from 12 footers to twin engine 1000hp go fasts) sit all winter in cold and warm storage here in Ohio w/o being started. Of course they are winterized which only means the fluids were changed and that fogging oil is dropped in the carborator. Those with FI go w/o. My boat is 22 years old and that is how it lived it's entire life...winterized, fogged and parked in a cold garage and those twin 351 Ford blocks start the first time...every time. I do pull the 3 deep cycle and 2 starting batteries and keep them in my warm garage and trickle charge them from time to time.

Now some tires will develop flat spots from setting all winter. I would suspect softer the compound (or cheaper the tire?) the more likely this is true. I have both cheap and soft (Kumho) tires and every spring the flat spot drives out in 2 minutes on the road. Older tires will obviously not "snap back" as well. You are better off to block a car to take pressure off the tires but that is not easy on a low car. Additionally a reduction in stress on struts can make them fail (I have heard)...I think the logic is that an unloaded strut can lose some gas? Not sure about that one...

Change fluids and park it is my theory.

Therefore, don't crank her up at all till spring ?

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Store the car.

Put it on a battery maintainer if you can.

If, in Toronto, there is an occasional nice day with temperatures where the road surface will be 45 degrees F (7C) in the afternoon, take the car out and drive it 40 miles (64kilometers).

Just don't start it for a few minutes or start it in the garage to see if the battery is OK. You want to put the start-the-engine-wear on the engine only when you are going to get some benefit out of the wear like the benefit of transporting you or the benefit of running the A/C, moving the seals, warming up everything.

The Boxster in winter for more thoughts on how to drive or store your Boxster in the winter.

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I do agree with Mike and forgot an important topic worth considering, A/C. A/C system seals do like to be lubricated with a a startup from time to time. I think most experts tell you to run your AC every couple weeks or month even in the winter to get them lubed. Dry seals do leak freon for sure.

I would be negligent on that one item not starting my car all winter but my A/C works just fine each summer too, for now.

So unless you car it put away and hard to get. Find that warm dry/day each month to run the bugger if you can!

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You have to use some logic here of "why". There is no advantage to "starting" a car during the winter other then to charge the battery. Obviously to keep your battery alive you can do that with a trickle charger if needed. (note: my 4 year old battery survives every winter in Ohio w/o one charge in a cold storage garage). So if you feel compelled to start your car then the only reason you should go 20 minutes is to allow everything to get up to temperature inside the engine "stuff" so it burns off any water vapor which is obviously bad for a "sitting" system. Starting you car for 3 minutes will create condensation that never gets nuked as the engine never gets hot enough. So starting for short periods w/o getting up to temp is far worse then not starting at all.

Now there is merit (especially in older car, hell any car) to driving it from time to time to keep grease (c/v joint for example) from drying out and other systems flexible and lubed. But well cared for cars really don't need that either. We all know a car runs better when driven regularly then when sitting with little attention...so that is why the "drive logic" prevails.

Now before anyone jumps on here to challenge my logic about the engine keep in mind where we live our boats (from 12 footers to twin engine 1000hp go fasts) sit all winter in cold and warm storage here in Ohio w/o being started. Of course they are winterized which only means the fluids were changed and that fogging oil is dropped in the carborator. Those with FI go w/o. My boat is 22 years old and that is how it lived it's entire life...winterized, fogged and parked in a cold garage and those twin 351 Ford blocks start the first time...every time. I do pull the 3 deep cycle and 2 starting batteries and keep them in my warm garage and trickle charge them from time to time.

Now some tires will develop flat spots from setting all winter. I would suspect softer the compound (or cheaper the tire?) the more likely this is true. I have both cheap and soft (Kumho) tires and every spring the flat spot drives out in 2 minutes on the road. Older tires will obviously not "snap back" as well. You are better off to block a car to take pressure off the tires but that is not easy on a low car. Additionally a reduction in stress on struts can make them fail (I have heard)...I think the logic is that an unloaded strut can lose some gas? Not sure about that one...

Change fluids and park it is my theory.

It works for me...but if you have the option to run it each month, why not. Just make sure you get it up to operating temperature before you put it back away. Burn off the condensation!

Therefore, don't crank her up at all till spring ?

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This is the 3rd winter I will be storing my 2006 987S. I have had great success each year following a few simple steps, all discussed here in many posts. I also follow the Porsche Owner's Manual. There is NOT a single recommendation in the Owner's Manaul to start and run the car during the storage period.

My car sits from mid October till early April. I NEVER START OR RUN THE ENGINE DURING THIS TIME PERIOD. In early spring, I turn over the engine by hand (by pushing the car in 5th gear for about 10-15 feet) and then start it, and go for a long drive and buy a fresh tank of fuel. The car starts great...no smoke...no noises...sounds like a pre-warmed engine restarting.

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This is the 3rd winter I will be storing my 2006 987S. I have had great success each year following a few simple steps, all discussed here in many posts. I also follow the Porsche Owner's Manual. There is NOT a single recommendation in the Owner's Manaul to start and run the car during the storage period.

My car sits from mid October till early April. I NEVER START OR RUN THE ENGINE DURING THIS TIME PERIOD. In early spring, I turn over the engine by hand (by pushing the car in 5th gear for about 10-15 feet) and then start it, and go for a long drive and buy a fresh tank of fuel. The car starts great...no smoke...no noises...sounds like a pre-warmed engine restarting.

I know in boating there is much discussion amount people about fuel tank full or empty, does you theory assume you store with an empty tank. Most experts agree to store you boat with a full tank of gas, this allows for less air and thus less water intrusion via condensation into the gas. Doubt that is much a concern with our little tanks compared to 280 gallons in my boat!

Curious to why you turn the engine by hand? Are you assuming there is little oil left on friction surfaces and thus fear a "hard start"? Sounds good to error on the side of caution!

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I know in boating there is much discussion amount people about fuel tank full or empty, does you theory assume you store with an empty tank. Most experts agree to store you boat with a full tank of gas, this allows for less air and thus less water intrusion via condensation into the gas. Doubt that is much a concern with our little tanks compared to 280 gallons in my boat!

Curious to why you turn the engine by hand? Are you assuming there is little oil left on friction surfaces and thus fear a "hard start"? Sounds good to error on the side of caution!

I store my car with a very-very full tank, with a fuel stabilizer.

The reason for the hand turned engine prior to starting in the spring is to pull a fresh, thin film, of oil in the cylinder wall and to make sure the rings did not seize, prior to turning the key with all of that torque and power from the starter and motor.

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Hello Don,

You mentioned "NEVER just start an engine and run it for a few minutes every once in a while" but you also stated "Better to just let a car sit and do nothing, than just run it a few minutes once in a while", can you be more sepcific, it seems to be contradicting to each other.

Steven

Steven,

The two statements say the same thing. Maybe could have been a little better stated, but I am sure if you look at them long enough, you will see they give the same advice! :)

Don

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  • 2 weeks later...

I never understand people who start their car up after "storing" it... storing a car means, you added the fuel stabilizer, charged the batteries and overfilled the tires. If you go out to start it every couple of weeks, you just have long term parking.

When we winterize the boat, we do all of the above including antifreeze into the engine and pull the batteries.... its diesel, so no fogging the block.

Edited by vath2001
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