Winter Storage And Your Fiero by Paul Castle
This past March my Fiero GT marked itís tenth birthday (actually, though I bought it on the 14th of March, it rolled off of the assembly line on the 25th of November.† I guess in reality it is over ten years old already!)† The first three years it was my wife's daily driver and during that time it accumulated 35,500 miles.† At that point I said "enough is enough!" and bought a '90 Grand Prix for her so I could begin pampering my silver toy.† I am fortunate that the GT is now a third car and it needs to be a daily driver no longer.
Having owned several Corvettes over twenty-five years and having stored a couple of them for long periods, I none-the-less did some research on winter storage.† What I learned may be of value to you.† I have abided by the following rules for the past seven years and my faithful '88 GT is still purring along.
Just to clarify, we are talking about seasonal storage here.† Long term storage (more than four months) is a little more complicated.
1.† Provide a place indoors.† I know this seems rather rudimentary but I am always surprised to see how many enthusiasts leave their cars outside all winter.† Of course, if you don't have a choice, you don't have a choice.
2.† Get a good quality car cover.† If you are storing out of doors, this is especially important.† Get the best quality cover you can afford.† One that is water repellent, yet breathes, so any moisture that does find its way underneath (and it will) will have a chance to evaporate.† Tie or strap it down tightly.† You don't want the wind whipping it about and abrading the paint.† If you are lucky enough to store your Fiero inside, then all you need is a cover that will keep the dust off.† Mine is very thin nylon that folds into its own storage pocket.
3.† Wash it up, clean it up.† Before you put your baby to sleep for the winter make certain that it is washed, waxed, scrubbed and vacuumed, just as if you were going to enter a car show.
4.† Fill up that gas tank and put a can of "Sta-Bil" or some other brand of gas conditioner and stabilizer into it.† This will keep the gasoline from getting gummy through evaporation throughout the fuel system.† Follow the directions on the can.
5.† Drive the car long enough to get everything hot.† You want the engine oil, coolant and exhaust system to be at operating temperature.† This will help drive any moisture out of the exhaust system and you will need the oil hot for when you change it.† More contaminants will be drained if the oil is nice and hot.
6.† Change the oil and filter.† You want nice clean oil sitting there in the crankcase over the storage period, not oil that has contaminants and acids.† I would recommend a fully synthetic oil.† The refined base stock from crude oil still leaves all kinds of hydrocarbons, including some that are not ideal. Synthetics are more chemically pure and stable.
7.† When the car is in place and the engine is shut off for the last time I take some heavy duty plastic and strong rubber bands and cover over my exhaust tips while the system is still hot.† Hey, you heated the system up to drive the water vapor out, why let it back in now?
8.† I bought a "Moisture Protection Kit" from Mid-America Corvettes in Effingham, Illinois (1-800-500-8388).† The kit consists of sacks of desiccant, the same moisture absorbing stuff that comes in those little white bags in electronic equipment.† I toss these quart sized bags into the carís interior just before I shut the door for the last time.† It prevents moisture build-up during the cold winter months.
9.† Check your tires.† Make certain that they are at recommended pressure. Even a couple of pounds above wouldn't hurt.† Eyeball them once in the while over the season to make certain you don't have one leaking slowly.
10.† I soon got tired of taking out the battery every fall and lugging it down into the basement to hook a trickle charger on it.† (If you do this, make certain the charger has an automatic cut-off when a full charge is reached and then maintains it.)† So now I have a solar-panel maintain the battery in place.† These little panels (about 12 by 6 inches) are designed to sit on your dash and plug into the cigar lighter.† The idea is for them to keep the battery up during long days in a parking lot, like at an airport.† But why not while the car is stored?† For the panel to work you have to stand it up in a garage window.† Preferably not on a northern exposure, but where it will, at some portion of the day, be in direct sunlight.† Fortunately the panels work on Fieros because Fieros have cigar lighters that function independently of the ignition switch.
11.† Tell your insurance agent.† They can probably list the car as taken out of service for that time period and even give you a decent rebate.† It cuts down on your overall operating cost.
That's it.†† Now a couple of DON'Ts.† DO NOT periodically turn over the engine.† Over 90% of your engine wear occurs at start-up.† Just let things be until spring arrives.† DO NOT pile things on or around the car during the storage period.† It is quite a temptation to use that nice shelf space, I know!
Since I have been storing my Fiero I have kept track of the average mileage/year.† In 1989 I averaged 13,000 miles.† In 1997 my average/year has dropped down to 4,669.† It is nice to know that well into the next century I will still be driving a low mileage Fiero.
Rock Island, Illinois