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Cold Winter Storage In The Northeast

With riding season coming to an end, it’s time to consider how, and where your motorcycle, scooter, atv, etc… will get stored. We will address a couple of storage ideas here. Regardless of what’s stated here, you should always follow your manufacturers instructions in your owners manual first and foremost.


Most gasoline’s will degrade over time, so a good additive like Sta-Bil Fuel Stabilizer will work just fine at keeping your fuel somewhat fresh over the winter. Follow the instructions on the container for amounts to be added. Some people claim if you fill your tank prior to storage, it will reduce the possibility of rust forming inside the tank due to condensation over the next 5 months. I can’t say one way or the other if this works, but the logic makes sense. If you’re running carbureted engines, the option of draining the fuel out of the bowls is also a good idea, but can be a problem with getting at multiple carbs, so another option is to shut the fuel off, and simply run the engine out of fuel. This works great for most engines. When adding fuel stabilizer to the gas, don’t forget to run the engine for a while so that the conditioned fuel makes it into the carbs, injectors, fuel pumps etc.


The best thing you can do for your battery over the winter, is bring it inside. Freezing conditions can kill off even new batteries. Somewhere out of the way where it can stay out of the cold for the winter is best. Garage, basement, closet etc.. Since batteries can vent from time to time, do not put it somewhere where the acid can cause damage to anything, and protect the terminals from contacting anything. Most people have a tendency to over charge their battery in winter storage. This too will kill a perfectly good battery. Small scooter batteries should only be placed on a battery tender (trickle charger) for short periods. One week a month is ideal for keeping a charge on it. Make sure anytime the battery is being charged, it’s in a well ventilated area, free from sparks, flames and so on. While that same trickle charger can dry boil a small battery, it would be safe to leave on a battery say like for a big Harley. Read the instructions that come with the battery maintainer, or trickle charger for the manufacturers usage recommendations. Some have battery condition monitoring, and will shut themselves off if/when full charge is reached. These are defiantly worth consideration, and worth the extra few dollars.


If storing in an unheated building, or outside for the winter, checking your coolant for it’s freezing point is an absolute must. If your coolant is more then 2 years old, consider having it changed. Most manufacturers recommend changing out the coolant after about the 2 year mark, as it breaks down over time and raises the freezing, and lowers the cooling point. You want your coolant to protect from freezing down to at least 0 degrees. Catastrophic damage can result in a small engine if it’s allowed to freeze, and could result in a cracked engine, burst radiator, and so on. Having your coolant tested is a simple way to determine at which point it will freeze, and only takes a couple of minutes. Small antifreeze/coolant testers are available at any auto parts store, Wal-Mart, Kmart etc.. and are simple to use. If your coolant shows it’s no good anywhere below 30 degrees or so, time to schedule an appointment to have the system flushed, and fresh coolant installed.

An item that most people overlook for freezing is the power washer. Don’t forget to drain, or fill the pump on a power washer with the pink RV fluid for the winter. It’ll thank you by not leaking in the spring.

Protection From The Elements

Whether storing inside or out, a good quality bike cover is always a great idea. Even inside, a good cover protects from accidental contact with balls, rakes, weed whackers, and whatever else gets tossed around your storage area. Outside, it protects from the elements that can damage paint, slows down things rusting, and helps prevent cracked seats and back rests. If you use a cover outside, make sure there are a few extra zip ties, or bunge cords holding it on, the winter wind can loosen even the best covers, and blow them 3 states away in a matter of seconds.

Again, these are just handy tips, and not meant to replace any manufacturers storage, or use recommendations. Always follow their recommendations for your particular vehicle/item.


Wolf Customs / Capitol Area Motorcycles

182 Second Street – Highspire, PA 17034

717 756-9273 – info@wolfcustoms.net


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