Fuel Stabilizer - Don't Store A Car This Winter Without It!

The weather is cooling off across the country, and that means it's time for classics and sports cars to hunker down in the garage for winter. While it sounds easy to simply park your car in its usual spot in the heated, cozy garage, there's plenty of prep to do to ensure your vehicle's health come spring.

Stabilizer corvetteImage via Wikipedia Commons

One of the most important items is to prepare fuel system for storage. Here's what you need to know about prepping your fuel system, as well as some helpful winter storage tips.

When Good Fuel Goes Bad

Stabilizer gas pump

You might be wondering: Why prep your fuel if you're not even going to drive your car?

Answer: Automobile fuel is a highly refined mixture of volatile components that will break down and/or evaporate over time. As this happens, gasoline's combustibility diminishes. This degraded fuel leads to degraded engine performance, hard starting, and can even lead to fuel system damage.

If left untreated, these compounds will eventually change the entire chemical composition of the fuel. This causes impurities that clog filters and gas lines as well as hard-to-reach spots in your carburetor and fuel injector. Taking care of these deposits is expensive, and your vehicle might not even run in that condition.

But there's good news: A fuel stabilizer will all but guarantee the fuel left in your car will last the winter. Plus, they're quite affordable, so there's no excuse.

Fuel stabilizers work by slowing the oxidation process of fuel. It keeps those compounds from breaking down and absorbs the moisture that forms in the tank. Most fuel stabilizers can hold gas up to 15 months. So unless you live in an area with Narnia-like winters, a fuel stabilizer should work fine.

Other Winterization Tips

Stabilizer waxing

Waxing your car is a great way to protect your car through winter.

In addition to using fuel stabilizer, there are other ways to prep your car for a long winter in the garage:

Wax your car. Don't forget about the outside of your car! If you're planning to put a car cover on your car - or even if you're not - waxing the car before storing it can protect the finish.

Protect from rodents. Often, rodents crawl into engine bays, interiors, etc. and cause damage in the process. Aside from deploying some mouse traps, it's a good idea to stuff a rag in the tailpipe, cover any small entrances to the interior or engine bay, etc. to keep rodents out.

Add silica bags. You know those annoying little bags that fall out of new shoes that say "Do Not Eat" on them? Those are silica bags, and they soak up moisture and prevent mildew from forming. Putting a few larger silica bags (which can be purchased online) in your vehicle for the winter can help protect it from unwanted moisture.

Jack it up. Elevating your vehicle slightly using jack stands will keep flat spots from forming on your tires.

Change the oil. In addition to stabilizing the fuel, it's a good idea to do one final oil change, even if the oil that's currently in the engine doesn't have many miles on it. This is because the oil breaks down over time, even if the car isn't driven.

Charge the battery. Car batteries will also fade over time, and a trickle charger will keep it fresh and charged so your vehicle will start right up come spring.

Return to the Road

Before you start your car back up again in the spring, go through this checklist to ensure everything's in tip-top shape:

Check for mice. Lift up the hood and take a quick look for chewed wires, belts, hoses, or nests.

Check the tire pressure. Make sure PSI is up to the recommended specs.

Check fluids. Just in case there was a leak you didn't know about.

Reconnect the battery. If you used the trickle charger, be sure to reconnect the battery.

Check the wipers. If you live in a dry climate, they may have cracked or become brittle.