Convertibles are a lot of fun to drive, but more than most vehicles, they have their limits. However, living in a four-season area doesn’t mean you can’t own a three-season car. With proper care and know how, storing a convertible through the winter is relatively painless, and your baby can reemerge in the spring just as you left it.
There are certain things you should do when storing a car long term. First, put plenty of air in the tires — as the temperature drops, air particles condense and tires deflate. That much weight on one area of a stationary wheel for extended periods will create damage called flat spots. Also, fill the gas tank and check all other fluid levels. If the car will be sitting for a few months, it wouldn’t hurt to add fuel stabilizer in the gas tank, to prevent natural chemical breakdown of gasoline (especially today’s ethanol cocktail) over time. Finally, disconnect the battery.
The main thing to consider when storing a convertible (as compared to other cars) is of course the soft top. The most important part of storing a convertible is to put the top up. Even in a garage, snow isn’t the only element you’re protecting against in the winter months. Furry friends are looking for a warm home, and your easy-entry convertible is an inviting option. In addition to closing it up soundly, cover the tailpipe and consider investing in a good quality cover. Never use a tarp, which can trap moisture and lead to mold and rust.
Although a garage is ideal, convertibles can also be stored outside. In this case, you need to really consider a water-resistant yet breathable cover, one that is thicker for cars parked outside and a proper, snug fit. A cover that is too loose could do more harm than good if it’s flapping against the paint job in the wind.
To Start or Not
It is possible to leave the car stored all winter without driving, but you should take a few extra precautions. Use a battery tender to counter parasitic drain. It can stay connected all winter and will automatically charge when necessary. Also, remove the spark plugs, and squirt a bit of oil on top of the cylinders. With plugs replaced but wires disconnected, crank the engine a few seconds to coat, then replace wires. If you’d rather take the car out for a drive to keep things running smoothly, do so every 2 weeks or so. Make sure to remove anything blocking the tailpipe, pick a clear day with no snow and no recent road saltings. Drive around at least 20 minutes to properly exercise the alternator, charge the battery and warm up all the components to ward off condensation.
In the end, there’s no reason to worry about your convertible, even if you live in areas with severe winters. Knowing how to take care of it during the storage months is key. From there on out, it’s all a breeze.
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Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.