Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Winter Storage

Over the summer I purchased a 2002 T Bird with only 5.900 miles on it. The T=bird was kept by the original owner in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. I do not have that luxury and I am storing it outside on my gravel driveway. I have added 4,000 more miles on it, but now roads are being salted for the winter. I’m just getting it out for a short drive once every three weeks since December. The T-bird is waxed, covered with a tight fit car cover, and parked on a vapor barrier. Temperatures will rang from 0-50 in the next months. Anything else I could be doing here to keep this car in the excellent condition I got her in.

A battery maintainer can help out if you have electricity available.

I assume you added some fuel stabilizer? If not, I’d do that.

A short drive can do more harm than good. If you are gonna drive it, take it for a long drive so everything gets up to temperature and let the nasty gunk (moisture, acidic volatiles) evaporate out of your oil. 20 minutes minimum, hopefully including some highway.

I like to keep one of those ultrasonic pest repellers (from your local hardware store) in/near my car so that mice and other rodents don’t try to make a home.

I assume you changed oil before putting the car to sleep, so that the old/acidic oil is not still in the engine…?

Car covers can get yanked around by snow, ice, and wind. They can also “flap” against the paint if there is a harsh wind. Be sure your cover is well secured, hopefully with ropes going underneath the car from side-to-side.

-Bob C.

good info from Miata Net

Thanks very much for your replies, I had done the oil change and stabilizer but did not think about short drives doing more damage. Took a long ride today. I know what you mean on the cover. - I have a black T-Bird and take the cover off in the sun ( to spot damage immediately) and no damage yet and worth it considering the bird droppings and dusty conditions in the area at times. The cover fits like a glove, but I know I could be taking a chance if a wind storm kicks it around too much. The Miata site was a wealth of info too. Thanks again.


You are possibly doing one of the worst things short of ignoring maintenance to shorten the life of your car. That would be driving it on wet, salted roads. That will degrade your undercarriage parts including things such as brakes including brake lines, exhaust system and fasteners. The car does not need to be driven periodically for several months of winter.

Otherwise short drives less than a half hour will harm nothing except your exhaust system if you change your oil more frequently.

Covering is good.

I have a very old car that is used in the summer and parked in the winter in a garage. It has no rust and I can say from experience that storing correctly with no driving does not degrade the car. I have been storing the old car during winter for over 20 years.

PS, I do little that the Mazda site advises. I just park the car with a full tank and a recently fresh oil change. A garage with low humidity is important to keep the brakes and clutch plate from rusting. Parking a car for a winter layover is not as involved as the Mazda site says. In the spring, I open the garage, start the car and go!

I park two motorcycles similarly. One is 22 years old, the other is 28.