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To drain or not to drain? for winter storage

I will be storing my 2006 Scion outside in the Minnesota winter between September and February. It regularly gets to 20 or 30 below zero here. Suggestions about winter preparations conflict so I thought I’d ask on the Car Talk forum. Is it better to drain the fluids? If so, should I just drain the gasoline or should I drain all the fluids? The current plan is to buy a tarp for minimal rust protection but my brother thinks he might have a friend with a barn I could use. If it’s in an uninsulated shelter, such as a barn, would my winter preparations be any different than if it’s outside? Any help is greatly appreciated.

I would drain no fluids. Make sure the antifreeze is at full strength, change the oil, put in a full dose of Stabil in a nearly-empty tank (extra won’t hurt), then put in a fresh tank of gas (to minimize condensation in the tank). And if you cover it, put a tarp under it too to reduce the ground moisture.

The strongest solution of anti.freeze is 1/3 water

I’d be more worried about critters finding their way into things in the vehicle. I probably wouldn’t bother with the tarp as it could come loose and scratch the car up when it gets windy outside.

Yep, I should have said ‘at correct strength’.

Put in 100% gasoline, no ethanol, non-oxy, before storage and add stabil. Keep the battery charged, take it out if you can’t charge it where it’s being stored.

Change the fluids, don’t drain them and leave them empty.

Tarp doesn’t protect against rust. Your car won’t get salt on it at least. It’d be nice to protect it from the sun’s rays though, even in MN winter.

I suggest not using the car cover. They are at least as likely to cause damage than prevent any. I recommend removing the battery and bringing it inside. That not only is good for the battery, but it also makes the car far more difficult to steal since few car thieves carry an assortment of batteries with them.

Check with your insurance company. Likely you will be able to cancel the collusion part of your insurance as you will not be driving it. No need to pay for that coverage.

As noted, protect it from animals including mice.

That unheated storage would be best. Better than a heated storage. Being cold is not hard on a car that is not being driven.

Don’t drain the fluids. The advice of other posters on this is good.

If you can put it in an unheated barn, just use a “soft” cover to protect the paint from dust. Plastic “tarps” are not good. They hold in moisture and the hard plastic can scratch even abrade the paint in the wind. It does get windy in Minnesota winters. Inside an unheated barn with a soft fabric cover is fine.

The issue of critters, mice in particular, is a real problem. They can eat away plastic wiring insulation, seat cushions, and bring in all sorts of nasty stuff to make nests. If the barn has lots of “barn cats” around that is a good natural defense. You may also need some strategically placed DeCon and sticky mouse traps to keep the critters out. Squirrels can do lots of damage too.

If you can get electricity to the car you should hook up a battery tender charger to the battery. If you can’t get electricity buy a 9V device that plugs into your cigarette lighter DC power plug and follow the directions before you take the battery out of the car. This will maintain your car’s “settings” on the computer and in the radio while the battery is out of the car.

The battery should be kept charged while it is out of the car for storage. This can be done with a battery tender charger. Or, an overnight charge with a “trickle” charger every month or so.

After adding fuel stabilizer (Stabil), be sure to run the engine for several minutes. You want the stabilized fuel to circulate up the system through the injectors.