Winterizing Your Chevelle


Winterizing Your Chevelle



Well here in Indiana it's that time of year when most of us prepare our Chevelles for the winter hibernation. There are certain desirable things to do, some more important than others, but all are a good idea. You've heard of most of these, so if nothing else they'll serve as a reminder.

1. Most important is to check the coolant freeze protection. A cheap tester is available at most auto parts stores. Ideal is -34 deg F which is usually a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water. Even if you store the car in a heated or attached garage, a garage door accidentally left open for a few hours can be disaster to an engine block if the anti-freeze mix isn't up to snuff. If necessary, drain enough coolant and add anti-freeze to get the proper mix.

2. Charge your battery beforehand and at least once a month. If the car is stored outdoors or in an unheated area, it's good to remove the battery and store it in a heated area away from open flame. I don't like trickle or automatic chargers since they've been known to malfunction and catch fire. Better is to start the vehicle and let it fully warm up at least once a month. Better still drive it around the block a few times when weather permits. If a battery gets below a certain charge level it's ruined and can't be recharged.

3. Change the oil and filter. The acids, diluted gas, water, dirt, etc., suspended in the oil can eat away bearings and aluminum, rust metal, create sludge, and other not-good things.

4. Check and air up the tires. Check them once a month too. They'll lose pressure over time. Low tires will tend to develop flat spots too.

5. Wash or otherwise clean the car outside and in. Contaminants left on the paint, chrome, trim, etc., can stain, etch, etc., over time. Trash, rags, towels, clothes, etc., left inside can attract mice to set up house. Ideally also wax the paint especially if stored outdoors. Cover the car if possible whether outdoors or inside.

6. Add "Sta-Bil" or similar fuel preservative to the gas tank and run the engine long enough for the mixture to replace the gas in the carburetor. If the car is being stored for a long period of time without running, it's a good idea to remove the spark plugs, spray some WD-40 or similar into the holes, turn the engine over a few revolutions, then replace the plugs.

7. Take precautions to keep mice out of the car. Keep doors closed and windows up, close vents, plus put a repellant in the interior and trunk. Some use moth balls but the smell is strong and will linger in the Spring. Others use Bounce dryer sheets (I do) and replace them periodically when their fragrance weakens. Also it's a very good idea to put mouse traps under or around the car (I do), not inside, and check them daily. A dead mouse inside a car will smell horrible and it's almost impossible to get rid of the smell. Poison isn't a good idea since a mouse can eat it outside the car and go inside it to die. Some also put steel wool in the tailpipe openings to keep mice out. Be sure to remove it before starting the engine though. Mice can destroy upholstery and wiring.

8. A very good thing to do if you can't drive it periodically is to start it when possible and let the engine warm up fully. This will keep seals lubricated, prevent rust from forming, evaporate condensation, prevent carb deposits, etc. If nothing else, hit the starter and turn the engine over a few times. That will compress and relax different valve springs, flex the seals, and lube the cylinder walls.

There are no doubt other things that can be done to prepare for Winter storage but these are probably the most important. Now you can kiss your "baby" goodnight and tuck her in for a long winter's nap.