Vehicle Prep in Fall: Before the First Flurry Falls
The list of things to do around your house to prepare for cooler weather is long and time consuming, so taking care of what’s in your garage can get overlooked or pushed off until the last minute. As soon as the leaves begin to change and just before you store your mower, RV, ATV, UTV or motorcycle, check to make sure they are ready for a long winter’s nap. Maintaining your vehicles helps protect your investments, so refer to this list to help guide you through.
You may not store your car until spring, but there are still things you should do now.
- Replace your carpet mats for rubber ones. You can even place thick towels under the rubber floor mats to help catch and absorb any salty water.
- Check your oil level, engine coolant and windshield wiper fluid reservoir.
- Test your battery and evaluate your belts and hoses.
- Inspect your windshield wipers and tires.
- Get a tune-up.
- Apply wax to the exterior to help protect it from ice, snow, sleet and freezing rain.
- Get a winter car survival kit that includes blankets, flares, jumper cables, ice scrapers, road salt, first aid materials and snacks.
It’s time to start thinking about winter storage for your beloved bike. You’ll want to make sure your bike is in tip-top shape before you hang up your helmet for the year.
- Fill your gas tank and use a fuel stabilizer as well. An empty tank allows condensation to form.
- Tender your battery while it’s in storage. This means to hook it up to a trickle-charge that will prevent it from overcharging or from draining.
- Lubricate the chain before it sits all winter and any other parts that are prone to rust and corrosion such as bolts, cables and switches.
- Elevate both wheels off the ground to prevent flat spots on your tires. If you do not wish to purchase stands, then move your bike around a couple times a month so it is not sitting on the same part of the tires all winter. Add a little extra air as well since there will be a bit of air loss over time.
While some people do use their RV year-round, many others store it during the winter months. Before it gets too cold outside, check out these tips:
- Drain the water system to prevent freezing pipes and line breaks. You can run a nontoxic antifreeze through the entire water system to winterize it.
- Inspect the exterior for any damages or broken panels. Double check the roof, sidewalls, seams, windows, doors and any access panels to see if you should reseal or re-caulk holes or cracks. This keep moisture out. It may be beneficial to have a professional inspect it as repair costs are…well, costly.
- Do you know where you’re parking your RV for winter? Make sure you choose a safe place, preferably in a shelter or under a roofed area. If that’s not possible, at least make sure it is not directly under trees. Be sure to check your city code before planning to park your RV on the street as many places restrict street parking.
- Cover your RV and the tires as UV rays can damage them. You can purchase covers from your RV dealership, but a plastic tarp is not recommended because it will likely trap moisture between the RV and the tarp. Also make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Disconnect the batteries and keep them stored in a cool, dry place. A partially charged battery may freeze faster than a fully charged one, so it’s recommended that you charge them every four to six weeks with a voltmeter or multimeter.
- Make sure all food has been removed from your RV and thoroughly clean the fridge, cupboards, countertops and floors to avoid critters from moving in as they could also munch on cords, wiring and other components. Place a few mouse traps at random, just in case. Unplug the RVs auxiliary electrical power cable and make sure the cable hatch is closed tight to avoid unwanted guests.
Your ATV or UTV
Using your ATV or UTV in fall to ride the trails and look at fall foliage is a great idea, but if you’re planning on storing it afterward for a long winter, there are a few things to think about. Also, here are some reminders for how to Play it Safe on Your ATV.
- Clean it! By cleaning the exterior, you can help prevent corrosion.
- Check the brakes and tires to see if repairs are needed.
- Change out your oil and the air filter.
- Critters might try to live in the exhaust, so you’ll want to cover it.
- Remove the battery completely and store it in a cool, dry place.
- Also remove those spark plugs. A cool trick is to pour a tablespoon of engine oil into the cylinders and then run the engine to coat them.
- Just like with your motorcycle, you’ll want to elevate your ATV or UTV off the ground to prevent flat spots on tires that have sat too long.
- Cover it up with a breathable cloth.
Just as you have to maintain it in early spring before using it for the first time, there are things you should do to your mower before storing it after the last use in fall. Refer to our spring Mower Maintenance article for a complete list as most tips work in fall too, but here’s a few quick notes that are especially specific to fall.
- The best thing to do is drain the gas tank, but you can add a fuel stabilizer if running the mower until the gas is gone is not an option.
- Clean your mower by removing grass clippings and matted grass from underneath the deck and from the blades. If it doesn’t come off easily, just use a paint scraper.
- Inflate the tires.
- Cover it and choose a good location to store it.
Your Fall Insurance Review
It’s the right time to touch base with your local Shelter agent to help you choose the proper coverage on your vehicle, your ATV, UTV, and RV. Get ahead of the first snow and call your agent today!