No need to pe­ri­od­i­cally start win­ter-stored ve­hi­cle

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - AUTOS -

QI have re­cently pur­chased a 1997 Ford F350 with the 7.3 diesel en­gine and I’m only us­ing it for tow­ing a trailer in the camp­ing sea­son. I do not want to drive it in win­ter as it is in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion. I have an aux­il­iary pow­er­train con­trol mod­ule (APCM) that was in­stalled by the orig­i­nal owner to in­crease en­gine r.p.m. when the trans­mis­sion is in park.

I have in­stalled two bat­tery blan­kets on the bat­ter­ies and the block heater is work­ing well. I have also pur­chased diesel ad­di­tive by Kleen­flow to keep mois­ture out of the diesel fuel and to pre­vent jelling of fuel. I plan to keep the tanks near full to fur­ther re­duce mois­ture.

What is the best way to main­tain the en­gine dur­ing the win­ter? I can get the en­gine very close to op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture with about 15 to 20 min­utes of fast idling. Is this safe for the en­gine? Will this be enough to evap­o­rate any mois­ture in the en­gine? Nick

An­swer: There are many vari­ables when stor­ing a ve­hi­cle for the win­ter, such as where it is stored. If it were stored in the Ari­zona desert, the dry air would al­low me­chan­i­cal parts to last for years but the win­dows would need to be cov­ered to pre­vent sand­blast­ing of the glass. Like­wise, if stored in the win­ter in the Cana­dian Prairies, the dry air would pre­serve parts but if it were stored on the coast, the hu­mid air could cause con­den­sa­tion in­ter­nally in me­chan­i­cal parts , which would cre­ate cor­ro­sion.

Some things are com­mon. Pump up the tires, dis­con­nect the bat­tery and keep it cold to pre­serve its charge (I wouldn’t use a bat­tery blan­ket or block heater un­less you needed to start the en­gine in cold weather and then only plug them in a few hours be­fore start­ing), charge the bat­tery ev­ery couple of months, add fuel sta­bi­lizer to the fuel sys­tem — this is es­pe­cially im­por­tant on diesel fuel sys­tems — and change the oil be­fore stor­ing it.

Op­er­at­ing the en­gine sev­eral times through­out the win­ter isn’t nec­es­sary, but it will help keep seals and in­ter­nal en­gine parts lu­bri­cated so cor­ro­sion is less likely to take place. The APCM in­stalled on your truck in­creases en­gine idle r.p.m. on the diesel en­gine, some­thing of­ten used for ve­hi­cles with power take-off ac­ces­sory drives, tow trucks and other util­ity ve­hi­cles that must idle while work­ing. You can in­crease the en­gine r.p.m. to the fast idle with this with­out harm­ing the en­gine but let it idle at slow speed for a minute first to get oil flow­ing to all parts. Idling long enough to bring the en­gine up to op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture, how­ever, won’t get rid of con­den­sa­tion in the crank­case. To do this, you need to run the en­gine long enough to heat the oil so the con­den­sa­tion can evap­o­rate and this can take a long time. You would likely be bet­ter off not start­ing the en­gine un­til you are ready to take it out of stor­age in the spring.

Ques­tion: I of­ten by­pass gears on my Ta­coma six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion when up­shift­ing to sixth af­ter en­ter­ing a down­hill slope from a stop. I just rev it to 3,500 r.p.m. in sec­ond gear (about 60 kilo­me­tres per hour) and go right to top gear. Am I risk­ing dam­age to the clutch or run­ning gear?

Also, I live around hilly ter­rain and groan down steep gravel roads in first gear rather than ride the brake. The tachome­ter goes up to nearly 3,000 r.p.m. Am I hurt­ing any­thing or wast­ing gas be­cause revs are even higher than nor­mal? John

An­swer: There is noth­ing wrong with by­pass­ing gears to shift to a higher gear as long as the en­gine doesn’t buck or surge be­cause the r.p.m. is too low. Some cars come equipped with a fea­ture that causes the trans­mis­sion to by­pass some gears to get bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

As for us­ing a lower gear on down­hill grades, this is re­ferred to as en­gine brak­ing, where the com­pres­sion of the en­gine is used to slow the ve­hi­cle. It is used all the time by big trucks haul­ing loads. It will de­crease the wear on the brakes and causes very lit­tle ex­tra en­gine wear. Just be sure the en­gine r.p.m. doesn’t ex­ceed en­gine red­line. At 3,000 r.p.m. you are fine. You won’t be us­ing ex­tra fuel be­cause the fuel sys­tem cuts off fuel in­jec­tion at higher r.p.m. when your throt­tle is closed.


If you’re plan­ning to store a ve­hi­cle for the win­ter it is not necce­sary to start the

en­gine, there are, how­ever, other ac­tions you can take to pre­serve it.


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