Basic maintenance for your new car: From breaking in to winter storage (Pt. 3)

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In photo, Charles uncovers one of the first air-conditioned Packards, sold in 1940.

Winter storage is a rite of basic maintenance for non-4WD vehicles when you live in a cold climate. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Don O'Brien/Flickr)

Basic maintenance of your vehicle includes knowing how to store it during the winter, should the climate and road conditions necessitate. Do it right of pay big money later. Click the link if you missed PART 1 or PART 2 of this article.

Basic maintenance from inception tip No. 8 – Keep an automotive journal

Sure, you keep up with your car care routine, but are you recording it for future reference? Record brief notes of each refueling, mileage, repair, part replacement or anything else worth noting. You may be able to spot patterns and perform preventative maintenance before a small problem becomes a larger one. You’ll also be able to hoodwink your auto insurance company if they feel it’s necessary to ding you for driving your car more frequently. Fight greed and corruption with creative dishonesty!

Here’s something honest: an auto loan payoff calculator.

Basic maintenance from inception tip No. 9 – Winter storage, done right

If you plan to stow your vehicle away during winter – or don’t plan to use the car for a month or more – then you’ll want to properly store it indoors. This prevents unnecessary damage, thus saving you money. Here are some of the more important things you should consider:

    • Fill the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Drive it long enough to work the stabilizer through the system before shutting down for storage
    • Wash and wax the car to maintain a nice finish that beats back the elements, even though the car will be covered
    • Clean the vehicle interior with a leather cleaner or vinyl cleaner where needed. Don’t go crazy, just get it clean. While you’re at it, vacuum and shampoo, too
    • Put a polyethylene drop cloth on the floor of the garage to act as a vapor barrier
    • Want to avoid odors? Put a pie tin of charcoal that isn’t impregnated with fuel, and set it upon a newspaper on the floor of your vehicle. Leave the windows cracked for circulation and the charcoal will help battle odors that can manifest
    • Take important papers out of the glove compartment
    • Shut off the heater and air conditioning so that valves aren’t left open for critter entry
    • If your car has a carburetor, disconnect the fuel pump and run the car until the carburetor is dry. This helps combat deposits, although it may not be absolutely necessary
    • Don’t set the parking brake
    • Don’t jack up the car or put it on blocks, as this can cause the suspension to droop unnaturally. Simply make sure air pressure is maintained and keep heat sources away
    • Disconnect and remove the battery, then place that battery on a trickle charger. If you feel so inclined, periodically drain the battery with a light bulb, then recharge it with a low-volt charger
    • Plug up the tail pipe with a rag to keep moisture out of that system
    • Set mouse traps in the garage, or they will get under the cover and nest. Mouse pee and droppings never agree with paint, intakes and filters, so do yourself a favor

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