You and your ride have had some great times over the summer, and even managed to extend the season late into Fall. Now it’s time to hibernate for a few months until next season. Here are five Must-Dos before tucking in:
1. Change the oil
Regardless of how hard or how far you have been driving your vehicle, an oil change at the end of the season is a must to avoid damage to the engine caused by dirty oil. This is especially true for motorcycles and other high-revving vehicles. If possible, check the old oil for shiny metal debris that could be an indicator of trouble on the horizon. If your engine doesn’t have a screens or magnetic drain plug, you can pour the old oil through a sieve as an alternative.
2. Add fuel stabilizer
Fuel generally lasts three to six months before it degrades due to evaporation. When that happens, the consistency of the fuel changes to something like honey that can be particularly harmful to carbureted vehicles. To prevent fuel degradation issues, add a fuel stabilizer, such as STA-BIL; and then run the engine for a few minutes to work the treated fuel through the fuel system. It’s a good idea to do this with a drive to ensure the stabilizer mixes with the fuel.
3. Wash your vehicle
While this may seem trivial, it’s actually an important step. Giving your pride and joy a good washdown not only removes dirt and debris that promote corrosion, but it provides an opportunity for an up-close inspection that you may not otherwise think of performing. The photo is something I found on my KLR650 as I was preparing for the end-of-season wash—this wiring looks a bit dodgy, and I made a note* of it as something to sort out over the winter.
4. Top up the air in your tires
In fact, it’s a good idea to put in slightly more air in than you normally would to compensate for natural pressure drops that occur as a result of colder temperatures. This will also decrease the risk of flat spots on tires from remaining in the same place over the winter.
5. Put the battery on a trickle charger
To keep your battery healthy while your vehicle’s charging system sleeps, use a trickle charger. These typically cost $50 – $100, and have built in smarts that charge your battery, and then stop charging until a significant drop in voltage is detected—at which point it starts charging again, and the cycle repeats.
* In my phone’s memo pad app; MyRide901 can’t come soon enough!