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Dealing with the Winter Blues

Robby DeGraff December 31, 2013 All Things Hoon, Redusernab Asks 25 Comments

The battery tender is on, Stabil running through the fuel system and your insurance has dropped a considerable amount. The realities of winter storage  may make you happy; or it can really put a damper on all your hobby excitement. That last time you drive your car or start up the engine before throwing over a cover, locking the doors and saying adios to your wheeled comrade isn’t an easy thing to do.

Brief stints of warmer temperatures and dry splotches of concrete tempt you. But deep down inside you’ll probably wait five or six months until spring time. So what do you do to handle that lack of gearheading? Maybe it’s clogging up your internet browser’s cache with page after page of potential project cars found on Craigslist. Maybe you’re building up your dexterity as you flock to the forums seeking back on ideas for the next summertime mod. For some it could be moving up in the rankings in your favorite racing video game. Others may settle for just taking a break from the “carmmunity” and hobby for a season. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. 

What are your strategies to cope with the “Fun-car-withdrawl,” winter blues?

  • danleym

    Well, I just bought an 04 Discovery, so having something new that I can tweak and mod and still drive through the winter helps. It's not near as fun as the Spirit to drive, but still fun in it's own way.

  • ptschett

    I'm not familiar with the application of this "winter storage" of which you speak to vehicles that have 4 wheels.
    <img src="; width="500">
    <img src="; width="500">

    I used to daily drive the Thunderbird all year, even after I bought my Dakota in '05; that lasted till the '08-'09 winter when I resorted to driving the pickup just so I could see over the snowbanks at the curbs. The Challenger does get to sit out much of the winter but I still drive it once or twice a month. It was a hoot the last time I took it out, after I'd re-acclimated myself to the Dakota's power output which is less than the Challenger's by about the amount of power that, say, an average Dodge Caliber has…

    I will say that I spend more time looking around in Google Earth/Maps and figuring out interesting places in the local area to visit. In my motorcycling days I acquired the habit of 'county collecting', playing blackout bingo with the state maps' county lines; I have to admit that I've spent some time working out trips to take in the warmer half of the year. (Though that didn't keep me from checking off 4 South Dakota counties on the T-bird's trip that's documented in the photo.)

    • Mark

      I grew up in ND, right near Minot, and while I never did any county collecting, I did plenty of road collecting. I rode my old Honda Nighthawk all over the state and down to visit family in Sioux Falls. Before long, I started keeping track of the roads I covered by motorcycle by highlighting them on a state highway map. Fast forward 25 years and I'm still riding, and still keeping track, this time with a US/Canada road atlas. Nothing like putting the finishing touches on a tour or even just a long daytrip by highlighting whatever new roads I covered. It's geeky as can be, but I like it.

      The only part of ND & SD I didn't like was being off my bike from roughly mid-October until sometime in March (if I was lucky). Just about 6 more years until I'm eligible for deferred retirement, then I'm probably moving back. Can't wait.

  • Simple. I moved from New England back to San Francisco again. Problem solved.

  • wisc47

    Snow donuts in a Honda Pilot; more fun than you'd think.

    I feel your pain. I store my Fiat during the winter mostly because…well 30 year old Italian convertible.

  • I, uh, check my tires since the pressure may have dropped a PSI or two?

    <img src="; width=650>

    • ptschett

      Meanwhile in Fargo… (I think today's high was -15 F.)
      <img src="; width="500">
      I got new tires on the pickup a few weeks ago. They set them to 35 PSI, which would have exactly correct if the weather outside were the same as in their shop. But they were down to 29 PSI by the time I got home, just from the ambient air being 70 deg. F colder…

  • Rover1

    Or move to nearer Antarctica.
    It's now the middle of Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

    • Vairship

      Not TOO close to Antarctica though, or you too might be stuck on an ice breaker…

  • Ed F

    When my 1968 Cougar is done, It will not see a NY winter ever. The salt and snow kill cars in upstate NY. We're lucky if we get 5 months of car show and cruise nights here.

    • The salt and snow kills cars if you don't have a good undercoat and don't keep your car clean, and if your car is Italian. My Saab has little more than surface rust underneath, 16 years of winter driving later.

  • jeepjeff

    What are your strategies to cope with the ”Fun-car-withdrawl,” winter blues?

    Unlike the other Californians, I actually have them this year. Mostly because the roads up in the Sierras don't look like ptschett's pictures above. So, I bought , and am currently thinking about some of the lower elevation trails. It will have to wait until after I get back from Boston, though. (Hopefully, by then, storm season will be upon us.)

  • Maymar

    It's my first year of minor withdrawl, having tucked the bike away back in October(?). I think being utterly frozen after the hour-long ride to the in-laws helped stifle some of my desire to get back out until spring. Some. But, without the entertaining bike as a quasi-daily driver, spending too much time in the sad 4-wheeled daily driver has me spending just a whole ton of time on Auto Trader and Kijiji to find something better.

  • 2cver

    Slot cars and model kits. The 2cv stays in the garage, not because I'm afraid of snow but because our state is wacky with the salt and brine. So, I build something on a smaller scale.

  • subaruluvchild

    I tighten my seatbelt and hope the roads are too bad for anyone else to be around. I'll play in any weather. The key to true auto-bliss is finding simething that can be fun year around according to your climate.

  • Preludacris

    Maybe someday I'll have a car in good enough condition to be worth protecting from winter conditions. In the meantime I'll celebrate not having to store my car by driving it every day.

  • bigev007

    I bought a 328is on Dec 1st. My first sporty car, so i can finally stop auto-xing my Civic Hybrid. It's completely rust free, so it is staying off the road for winter. Which means it is now parked under a snowbank (on pavement, not gravel). It needs some maintenance, but I can't do anything until it stays above 0 for a few days in a row. Not even figure out what it needs. Hopefully I'll get some good winter suggestions in here.

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    I just ended-up driving Astrid this winter. I just sort of happened. One day I drove to work, could have taken a different car, but looked nice, and they salted everything at work. But the Christmas parade was coming-up and I thought it would be swell, so I thought I'll drive until that. And I just kept going cause I had to fix so much stuff in my wife's car and mine it ate all the time I thought I would have to get my winter car ready.

    I would feel bad, but honestly I did two winters of storing and being ultra careful and I really suffered the blues not being able to drive for five months. But before this winter I put new undercoating and even though I did all that, I discovered that rust had appeared in a bunch of spots. So I dremelled it away, painted it, and undercoated it, and just stopped worrying about it. It is what it is and I'll have to keep on top of it anyway.

    So I've been washing the car a lot, five times at least this winter, just today I acid washed it, it was 6F. That's actually pretty good. I spray a small section, and if it freezes, I just wipe it off and it takes the salt with it, pretty neat actually. I have no idea what to do about the chrome parts, but they were also already rusty, oh well, maybe the bumpers will be body colored someday.

  • nanoop

    My project car has Viking Contact 5 tires for a reason: roads dry = no salt spray = ride!
    Requirement: unhook the minus/mass cable from the battery during storage, or else I need to give her a little tender-ness.

  • Hopman

    Easy. I daily drive a fun car year-round. An '07 Focus 5-dooor with a stick. Plus during the winter time, the loading dock area where I work is great for doing donuts & e-brake slides.

  • Winter tires, 180 lbs of sand in the trunk, and a paint job that is already shot.

  • Mr Abarth

    I have a 2013 Abarth for summer fun and a 2004 Dakota 4X4 for winter fun.

  • PushrodRWD

    Nice car. Living in a cold climate has drawbacks. Get a beater and leave that one inside if you plan on keeping it for a long time.

  • zsvdkhnorc

    Stabil is crap. I deal with a LOT of generators at my shop. You can always tell the ones that have Stabil in them by the cracked, melty, or disintegrating carb floats.

    There's two good brands of fuel stabilizer out there, Fuel Medic and StarTron. I sell Fuel Medic, but StarTron is every bit as good.

    Anything else is just asking for trouble.

    • Dan-O

      I have had good luck with Seafoam. Most people don't realize that it is also a fuel stabilizer along with its cleaning properties. I use Seafoam when rebuilding carburators. I use normal carburator cleaner first to clean parts and when I am done, then soak all the parts in Seafoam. It is amazing how much more gunk is removed by the Seafoam after it had already been "cleaned" with carb cleaner.

      This is a non compensated endorsement for an all around good product.



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