In the north, winter comes every year. With it comes the need to protect those toys you love to play with during the summer from the harsh weather and cold temperatures. You also need to make sure they are stored properly so when spring time comes you can simply go out and start your adventures all over again.
Grease and Lubrication
No matter what kind of toys you have, from ATV’s and motorcycles to bicycles and skateboards, exposed metal can rust in the damp months of winter, especially since water that accumulates will not evaporate the way it does in the summer.
The bearings on boat or ATV trailers should also be thoroughly packed with grease before they are stored. Every moving part should be lubricated with the proper oil to prevent rust and keep them from seizing during the winter.
Your gasoline powered toys are susceptible to a couple of issues when they are being stored. First of all, today’s gas does not contain lead and some of the other preservatives of gas in years past, so it tends to go bad.
To prevent this, you need to add a stabilizing compound to the fuel to help preserve it until you are ready to ride again. If your machines are older and carbureted, you need to drain the carbs as well, as the stabilizer will not work well in those lower volumes of fuel.
Fuel will also attract water, so filling the tank and leaving little space at the top is actually better than leaving it empty. Using a fuel dryer like Heet to treat the fuel in the spring will also help your first ride go smoothly.
You should fully service all of your equipment before putting it away for winter. All of the fluids that need changing should be changed, and topped off. This includes coolant, transmission fluids where applicable, and transfer case and differential fluids in ATV’s. Even if you plan to ride them on a limited basis in the winter months, still prepare them as if you won’t.
Brake fluid especially is hygroscopic, and attracts water. You should make sure that your system is well sealed and that fluids are full. If brake fluid takes on water, it turns a darker color than normal. This can also indicate the presence of contaminants, and at that point the brake fluid should be replaced and the lines flushed.
Batteries are a constant expense, and some people buy new ones every year, while others have batteries that last season after season. What’s the difference? Maintenance.
Charge batteries fully before any items that have them are stored. Attach a trickle charger with the battery unhooked or removed and on a bench or shelf. This will enable them to remain fully charged throughout the season. It will also keep the electrolytes inside the battery warm, so they are much less likely to freeze.
You can also purchase gel batteries, and maintain them the same way. They are likely to last even longer than the traditional lead-acid type if taken care of well.
The point is, you don’t have to replace batteries annually if you protect them properly when they are not in use, which is better for both the environment and your budget.
Tires tend to lose air pressure in the winter simply because cold air does not take up as much room as hot air. This is why tires should be up off the ground as much as possible. Be sure they are inflated fully before you store them, and check pressures frequently throughout the winter months.
This will make it less likely they will crack from temperature changes, and ensures they will not decay or worse freeze to the surface they are sitting on and become useless.
Whenever possible, summer toys should be stored inside out of the weather during the winter months. Preferably that space should be climate controlled. You have a couple of options if you do not have that kind of storage space where you live.
You could rent a storage unit. This can get very expensive as climate controlled units for vehicles can run upward of $250 a month.
If you own your home, you can get one of those inexpensive garage kits that can be erected in a few days with the help of a few friends. This will not only give you a place to store your toys, but it can increase the value of your home.
If you cannot afford to do either of those things, invest in high quality covers for all of your summer toys. Tarps and ropes can be adequate if used properly, but a solid windstorm or hard freeze can render their protection useless.
Putting away your summer toys properly through the winter months will not only save you money, but ensure that your things are ready to play in the spring. From proper preparation to storage, follow these steps to keep them protected and functional.