What advice would you give for maintaining a Miata that winters in our garage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I bought my lovely wife a 1990 Mazda Miata for her birthday a couple of years ago. She enjoys driving it in warm weather, and wants to keep it in good condition for many years. She stores it during the winter, but we have a question about how best to do this. We have been advised by some people to start the car up and drive it about once a week while it is in storage. Other people have advised us to just leave it all winter, and not start it up until my wife is ready to take it out in the spring. What do you advise?

TOM: Well, Tom, we don't believe Miatas ought to be stored during the winter. So out of the kindness of our hearts, we'll volunteer to pick the car up this fall, transport it to a warm, sunny climate, and keep it running all winter for you. We'll do it free of charge. All we require is that you cover gas, accomodations, meals, tolls, taxes, and gratuities.

RAY: Did he mention the maids? Actually, Tom, it IS good to drive the car every week or two, as long as you really DRIVE it, and not just start it. Many people make the mistake of thinking that just starting a car once a week is good for it. But it's not.

TOM: If you start a car, and then let it run for only five or ten minutes, what you're doing is producing moisture. And the engine doesn't get hot enough to make the moisture evaporate, so it just sits there, and contaminates the oil, and forms rust on the cylinder walls and exhaust system.

RAY: So when you do start the car, make sure you take it out and drive it for a while, and let it get good and hot. Start it on the nicer winter days...when it's not snowing or raining, and the temperature is above minus 30. Then drive it as you would your other car. Take it to work, to the supermarket, and on your daily visit to the Sonia Hejnie Museum.

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