What should I do to prepare my convertible for winter storage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

My wife just bought me a '96 Miata for my 40th birthday. I really wanted a Z3 or a Boxster, but I love her anyway. We live in British Columbia, Canada, and I want to
store the car over the winter. It rains nonstop here in the winter, so there's no point in keeping a convertible on the road. I have filled the tank and added gas stabilizer. I
will take out the battery and store it in the garage. What else should I do to prepare it for storage over five to six months? -- Gord

RAY: I'm glad you asked, Gord. You're absolutely right not to drive it in the winter. But it's not good for it to "sit," either.

TOM: So here's what you should do. Ship it to Hawaii, and send me a first-class, round-trip ticket, too. I'll meet the car at the dock in Waikiki, and drive it around for
you during February and March. What could be better than that?

RAY: Of course, he'll need room and board. Figure 75 bucks a day ought to cover meals, cigars, cappuccino and sunblock.

TOM: And what's a night at the Royal Hawaiian going for these days? About $325?

RAY: I think you want a tower room, don't you? Those are $550 in season.

TOM: OK, so send the car to Hawaii, Gord, and a check for $37,500 to me, and you'll be able to enjoy the car all summer with no worries.

RAY: Actually, Gord, everything you're doing is exactly right, except for filling up the gas tank. In the old days, when fuel systems were ventilated, you'd fill up the
tank so moist air wouldn't get in there and leave condensation (a k a water). But modern cars like yours have sealed fuel systems, so it's actually better to put in the
stabilizer and run the tank down. That way, you have plenty of room for some fresh gas in the spring.

TOM: And after you disconnect the battery, I would also take a couple of plastic bags and cover up the air intake and the exhaust pipe (secure the bags with rubber
bands). That'll prevent varmints from taking up residence in your engine.

RAY: And if you really want to be extra careful, before you put the plastic bags on, remove each spark plug and squirt a shot of motor oil into each cylinder. Then
crank the engine for five or 10 seconds to let the oil splash around before you put the spark plugs back in. That'll give the cylinder walls an extra shot of lubrication to
protect them over the winter. And in the spring, just start it right up and drive to the gas station. Good luck, Gord.

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