Winter weather poses a serious threat to your favorite recreational and outdoor toys. Your motorcycle, RV, ATV, and boat especially have to find a secure home for hibernation during the harsh winter season.
So how can you store your favorite toys to keep them safe? How can you prepare your toys and storage space to maintain your prized add-ons?
1. Stabilize the fuel.
It’s a misconception that you should remove all fuel or oil and store your vehicles on empty. An empty tank can actually damage the fuel gauge. Instead, empty the vehicles of all old fuel. Then, replace with a thin layer of fresh fuel. This will keep the tank from going stale.
Or, better yet, invest in a fuel stabilizer, which will keep the fuel “moving” so it won’t gum up in your tank. If you use a fuel stabilizer, we recommend filling the tank to the brim. This prevents rusting in a steel tank and condensation in a plastic tank. Make sure you follow the stabilizer instructions for installation.
You’ll want to also check the antifreeze or coolant levels. Make sure these are high enough to protect the radiator and water pumps from freeze damage. This will guard your engine and other parts against corrosion and freezing, especially during the colder months.
2. Oil metal surfaces.
Oil all metal surfaces, exposed and hidden. This will help prevent rusting or corrosion, especially in dry winter weather. You might want to consider re-oiling in the middle of the season as well.
Use a fogging oil on the engine’s moving parts to keep them protected from freezing or locking in the cold and when not in use.
3. Remove drive belts.
Drive belts can crack under stress when kept under tension for long periods of time. To avoid damage and replacement, loosen or remove drive belts before putting your toys in storage.
Don’t forget the small details that keep your toys running smoothly!
4. Protect the battery.
One of the most common losses over the winter is a dead battery. Even if you aren’t using the toy, you don’t want the battery to drain over the winter.
Disconnect and remove the battery. Top off with distilled water. Every few weeks, recharge the battery to make sure it stays “warm.”
5. Use a cover.
Covers are critical to protecting your vehicles from dirt, dust, grime, and moisture. This gunk could otherwise eat away at your toys, which could call for costly repair or replacement when you want to use it again in the spring.
Invest in a form-fitted cover that keeps your motorcycle, RV, ATV, or boat sheltered. The cover should be waterproof or water-resistant with a secure hold.
Note: Wash and wax your toys before storing. This will ensure that you remove any harmful debris before putting away for the winter.
6. Prevent pests.
A cover can also help prevent pests, but animals and insects are clever. Animals will want to make a home in dark, warm areas—like in your boat or ATV wheels.
To prevent pests:
- Remove any food in the garage. If you are also storing your grill in the garage, make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned of food.
- Keep clutter to a minimum.
- Ensure that the garage doors are in working order without cracks.
- Place cotton balls soaked in peppermint essential oil at potential entrance points. Most pests dislike the smell of peppermint.
- Lay traps or spray pesticides at entrance points. Check/change traps regularly.
- Call a pest control company if you suspect you already have an infestation.
7. Store in accessible areas.
You won’t want to simply store and neglect your toys over the winter. You’ll need to clean them, oil them, warm the batteries, and do maintenance. Because you’ll need to occasionally give your toys some TLC, you’ll want them to be easily accessible. Store it away but not too far so you aren’t climbing over items in your garage or storage space to get to it.
8. Don’t use as shelving.
When you put the cover on your toys, it’s easy for your vehicles to be forgotten about. You might start inadvertently stacking smaller toys or gadgets on top of your vehicle. Avoid this as much as possible. Piling items on top of your vehicles can cause cracking or damage that can be costly to repair.
9. Use your RV space.
If you’re storing your RV in a shed or garage, consider using the RV as additional storage space for smaller goods. Most RVs are enclosed and safe, which means it’s a second layer of protection within your garage. This is a great place to store your summer clothes and gear, so you don’t have to lug it up into the attic.
Note: Clean everything before storing it in your RV to avoid damaging the inside of your motorhome.
10. Use your ceiling space.
If you’re struggling to fit everything in the garage, hang some of your other accessories from the ceiling. Bikes, fishing rods, and sports equipment can be lifted off the floor (and onto the ceiling) to make room for your other vehicles. Learn how to hang a bike from the ceiling here. You can also purchase ceiling mount storage for tubs or buckets.
The more space you have, the less cluttered your storage space. Less clutter means fewer pests and reduced risk of damage to your toys.
Protect your favorite toys and vehicles this season with a little extra TLC before the winter hits. With just a few easy steps, you can avoid costly damage that will eat at your time and budget when it’s time to get outside again in the spring.