Useful Car Tips


February 26, 2019

Winter is well upon us for those in the Northern Hemisphere, meaning a definite end to the riding season for anyone living in very cold or snowy regions. If you live somewhere like this and ride a motorcycle, you may already be all too familiar with the concept and execution of winterizing. The name is self-explanatory; to winterize your motorcycle means to prepare it for storage in the winter when it can’t be ridden. But rookie or aspiring riders may be asking themselves, what exactly goes into winterizing? What steps need to be taken and what tools or skills are needed?

There are many different steps and procedures recommended, but we’ll take a look at some of the basics such as bike washing, oil replacement, and tire prep. We’ll also cover some precautions you may wish to take and All the way from initial prep to eventual storage.


Properly cleaning your bike before storage should be the first step you take. Clean the bike’s surface with soap and water, a gentle wash detergent should be enough. By doing so, you’ll get dirt, grease, and dead bugs off of the paint and prevent possible corrosion of the finish from bug guts. Don’t neglect to completely dry your bike after washing as water spots can also sit on your paint and corrode the paint finish. If you have one available, an electric leaf blower can expedite this process and help you dry off even the most hard-to-reach places.

After completely drying the bike, consider polishing aluminum and stainless surfaces using the appropriate metal polish. Then, you can use WD-40 to spray any exposed metal for the purpose of rust-prevention. Lubricate moving parts such as the chain drive, cables, and controls. Finally, you can finish this stage of the prep process by waxing all painted and chrome surfaces. This is another step to take to aid in rust-prevention.


Next is fuel and engine prep, and you’ll need to pick up fuel stabilizer for the former process. Begin by filling up at least 90% of your gas tank with fuel, then adding the suggested amount of fuel stabilizer. Start your motorcycle and let the stabilizer cycle through, turn it off once done. Taking care of your fuel and using stabilizer is a vital step of the winterizing process for a couple reasons. Firstly, stabilizer keeps your gas from going stale as it ages, which normally results in the gas changing from a combustible liquid into a gel which cannot be ignited. Stabilizer mitigates this process and can keep your fuel preserved for up to a year or more. Secondly, sludge and gummy substances can accompany this gel and affect the carburetor (if your bike has one). Stabilizer again works to protect against the formation of these substances in your fuel and can thus can prolong the carburetor’s life.

Once you’ve taken the appropriate steps to preserve fuel, you should focus on your engine and change the oil and oil filter. Just like gasoline, engine oil breaks down over time and can develop acidic qualities that have the potential to corrode engine internals. Fresh oil will work better for the lubrication system which will be sitting dormant for months. To ensure the oil is as fresh as possible, you can try to time your final oil change of the season to right before you store your bike. Don’t forget to change the oil filter before storage too.


The optimal storage condition for your tires is with a bike stand supporting the weight of the bike instead of the tires themselves. If stored in the same position for too much time, tires can begin to develop flat spots. While flat spots can be driven away most of the time, some are permanent and long storage times increase the chances of them forming. Even non-permanent flat spots can result in a ride disturbance that will be apparent until the tires are warmed up. No stand, and storing your bike on concrete? Put a piece of carpet or plywood under the tires to prevent moisture from seeping in.

Before calling it a wrap on winterization, consider some final details. If you’re expecting mice or other small animals (and even if you aren’t), it’s a good idea to plug any openings from exhaust pipes to air intakes. Remember to NOT start up your bike periodically, no matter how much may want to. The least of your troubles will be the extra engine wear of a harsh cold start. Finally, make sure you have taken your time and put care into this process, which can be delicate at times. Follow these tips so when spring arrives, your bike will again be ready for any ride!

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