November in southern Ontario usually yields a couple of warmer days to take one’s classic car for one or two final spirited drives. However, those opportunities are dwindling quickly as the month presses on. Before the winter cover goes on my older Porsche 912, I thought I should follow my own advice and prepare it for winter storage. So, here is a summary of what I am about to do.
- Fill the fuel tank. Last year, I forgot this step and then added a half-bottle of fuel stabilizer to my half-empty tank, halfway through the winter. I have mixed feelings about fuel stabilizer and don’t always use it. I believe the more important step is ensuring the tank is full with ethanol-free fuel.
- Wash and clean.
- Top up oil and all other fluids.
- Set my tire pressure to the maximum shown on the tire. This prevents them from developing flat spots.
- I never physically take my battery out of the car, but I do disconnect one of the terminals. I have retired my older trickle battery-charger in favour of a smart charger that I leave hooked up all winter long.
- Since the car is stored in my garage and has a car cover on it, I leave both front windows cracked slightly open to keep the air circulating and prevent moisture build-up.
That’s about all – pretty boring, isn’t it? I recognize that there are those classic and specialty car owners that have lengthy procedures, but I consider this to be just the bare essential list.
Your automotive questions, answered
About two minutes after I head to work in the morning, I encounter a long, steep on-ramp. In the “old days” (carburetor, coil, points, distributor cap), you were cautioned not to be aggressive with a cold engine. I might run the engine for two minutes while I scrape the ice off of the windows if needed, otherwise, it’s start and go. The car is a Mazda 2018 CX-5, dealer maintained, with synthetic oil. As a senior, this is likely the last vehicle I’ll ever have, so it has to last. It revs to about 5,000 rpm on the ramp. Do I worry?
Stepping outside into the frigid air this morning, I was instantly aware of how seasonally relevant this question is about become. Your vehicle in particular uses SAE 0W20 viscosity oil. In the early years of my career, the popular oil viscosity that most manufacturers were using was 10W30 and 10W40, which poured like slightly warmed molasses when filling an engine, unlike 0w20, which pours like water. My point is that newer oil is far thinner and circulates easier when cold. Given that, the warming of one’s engine for an extended period only serves to let the vehicle run long enough that the seat heater can do its job and warm your bottom side.
Your two-minute warm-up and two-minute drive are more than sufficient for the engine to reach a useable temperature. It may not have fully reached operating temperature by the time you reach the on-ramp, but it’s close enough that you need not worry about it.
In the morning after starting my car and driving away, if you reach a traffic signal too shortly and the car hasn’t reached operating temperature, is it better to idle the car or stop the engine and then start again if the waiting time is a couple of minutes?
This is the same sort of question as above but with a little bit of a twist. Manually shutting the car off at a set of lights is not advisable for older vehicles. In fact, it might be a slight bit dangerous, as having to reach down and start the car in an emergency situation will not be expedient. Even hybrids and newer vehicles with auto stop/start do not typically shut their internal combustion engines off until the vehicle has reached full operating temperature.
If you are in the habit of manually shutting the car off at a set of lights, stop doing this – your car was not designed with this in mind. Words of wisdom as whispered by the Beatles apply here – just let it be.
Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail email@example.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.
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