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Winterizing Your Scooter

8 December 2009 79,919 views 2 Comments

The folks at Scooter Underground www.scooterunderground.ca have prepared this article for those scooter riders who plan to park their scooter for prolonged periods over the winter.

If you plan to ride your scooter through the winter, we’ve got some tips for you too such as what to wear and what type of tires to use, but that’s not what this article is about.

Winterizing your Scooter - Scooter Underground - www.scooterunderground.ca

Take Care of your scooter this winter - It will love you back!

Preparing your scooter to be parked for the winter

Where:

Ideally, a scooter being parked should be kept in a warm and dry storage space like a garage. Other choices include storage lockers, warehouse space, basements or carports. Dry is better than not dry – warm is better than not warm. Try to avoid having to store your scooter in an area where it will be subject to freezing temperatures. In areas where there is exposure to salt air, get your scooter inside. Same applies to areas with high levels of pollution as it is potentially corrosive.

We strongly recommend a scooter cover when storing your scooter for the winter and, if you have to store your scooter outside, a scooter cover is absolutely essential.Scooter Covers at Scooter Underground, Victoria, BC, Canada - www.scooterunderground.ca

Every scooterist has a friend with some spare room in a garage or warehouse. If not, wheel it into your living room and it makes a great conversation piece.

What to do:

Taking a few simple precautions prior to putting your scooter to bed for the winter will save you a lot of grief when it comes out of hibernation in the spring. Parking your scooter in a warm, dry, place IS NOT sufficient winterization. Remember, it is the lack of use which affects a winterized scooter and you must take steps to ensure a long, trouble-free life for your scooter.

Fill Your Gas Tank

Many modern scooters have plastic fuel tanks which are not prone to rust. If your scooter has a metal tank, any condensation which collects on the interior walls will soon start to rust. Rust on the inside of a fuel tank will cause all sorts of problems because it gets into the fuel system and starts to gunk everything up.

Fill up your tank all the way to the top. Leave just about a shot glass of room to add some fuel stabilizer. (See below).

Stabilize Your Fuel

If left for long periods (sometimes as little as 6 weeks), gasoline will thicken and “varnish,” which will gunk up your jets, your fuel line, your fuel tap, and everything else between the gas cap and your exhaust pipe. For mor information on the need for fuel stabilizer, click here. We sell fuel stabilizer at Scooter Underground in small quantities suitable for winterizing your scooter- it is cheap and about a shot glass full is enough to stabilize the fuel in most scooter gas tanks. Follow the instructions on the bottle as to how much fuel to put into your tank. Add the stabilizer and cap your gas tank up tight – now it is oxygen-proofed and there is minimal risk of condensation! Rock your scooter from side to side to agitate the fuel in the tank to make sure the fuel stabilizer gets mixed properly with the gas. Before you put your scooter away, ride it around for a couple kilometers to ensure the stabilizer makes it all the way through the fuel line and into your carburetor. If you can’t ride it around, run it for about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn the fuel tap to “Off” before parking it if your scooter has a fuel valve.

Change the Oil (4 stroke Scooters)

We recommend changing your oil before putting your scooter to bed for the winter. Some people make an oil change part of a spring tune-up but we like to get the old gunky oil out before storing our scooter for the winter. (It’s sort of like not brushing your teeth before going to bed.)  This means one less step to perform in your spring tune-up. Be sure you warm your scoot up thoroughly before doing this, I’d recommend this step to be done after you stabilize the fuel and ride it around, the engine will still be plenty warm and the oil will run out better when it’s hot.

Place an oil collection pan underneath your gearbox and remove the drain bolt. Let the oil drip out for a little bit before you replace the bolt. Next, remove the oil fill bolt and fill it with the required amount of fresh clean oil, then replace the bolt. Take care to fill to the proper level using the fill marks on the dipstick or oil sight glass. Use the proper type of quality 4 stroke scooter oil. Brands like IPONE, Repsol, and Motul have been formulating oils specifically for scooters for many years. There are synthetics, non-synthetics, and blends. Check your owners manual to determine the appropriate type or ask our sevice advisors at Scooter Underground.

Fill your Oil Tank (2 stroke Scooters)

There is no critical winterization reason for doing this, but why not have a full tank of gas and full tank of oil waiting for you in the spring. Use good quality 2 stroke oil. There are synthetics, non-synthetics, and semi-synthetic oils. Consult your manual and talk to the staff at Scooter Underground and we will make sure you have the correct oil. One thing for sure, all 2 stroke oil is not created equal. Poor quality oils produce more smoke, often smell more, and often produce more harmful carbon in your engine. We have had great success with brands such as IPONE, Repsol, and Motul. You can even get scented 2 stroke oils that smell like strawberry – even pollution never smelled so good.

Check your signal lights, headlight, and horn

You should do this prior to any ride, but not that you are putting your scooter away for the winter, test all of these items. Check for cracked lenses and condensation. If you find any issues, this is a good time to order replacement parts. In the scooter business, many parts take weeks to arrive. Why not get these on order and get everything fixed up at a leisurely pace over the winter so that when spring comes you can hit the ground running.

Remove the Battery

Battery life will diminish rapidly if you leave it out in the cold all winter long. Before you park your scooter, pull the battery, bring it inside for the winter, and store it in a safe place where it won’t get knocked over of be exposed to flame, spark or temperature extremes.

It’s easy: open up your battery box or side cowl (wherever your battery lives), and with the scooter OFF, remove first the ground (black) lead from the terminal and keep it clear from the red lead or anything on the bike that will ground it (or you will get a nasty shock), and then the positive (red) lead. Remove the band that holds your battery in place, and lift the battery up and out. Don’t tip your battery, keep the up side up.

Use a good quality battery tender (which can be bought at Scooter Underground or any motorcycle shop for around 40 or 50 dollars) and charge it up, you don’t want to lose too much charge over the months or your battery will have a much shorter lifespan in the long run.

Battery Tender for Scooters - Scooter Underground - Victoria, BC, Canada - www.scooterunderground.ca

Note: There is a difference between a battery tender, battery charger, and trickle charger. What you want is a battery tender – it has some built in smarts to optimize the charging going to your battery and knows when to shut itself on and off. A tender will maximize the life of your battery and lead to the fewest battery problems.

Check your tires and adjust tire pressure

If your scooter is parked outdoors, many people also recommend parking it on a 2×4 or some board like that to keep the tires off the cold, wet ground (you have to put one under the stand also to keep things level.) At Scooter Underground, we just recommend overinflating your tires slightly as this will help to eliminate and flat spots that might be caused as your tires cool and deflate. Now is also a great time to have a look at your tires for excessive tread wear or any foreign objects. If you plan on riding your scooter in the cold and wet of winter, there are many tire tread patterns and rubber compounds that are suited to these conditions.

Rust-Proof Your Parts: Rust is a bad thing, and we want to keep it away from our scooters. As a preventative measure, cover your exhaust pipe with a plastic bag and fix it in place with a rubber band. This will keep the oxygen and moisture out of your exhaust system. You’ll also want to spray a little WD40 directly into your cylinder to rust proof those parts as well, so find your cylinder head, remove the spark plug and spray a little bit of WD40 around in there. This will put a thin coat over your piston and cylinder and help rustproof them.

If any of the service items sound a little intimidating to you, Scooter Underground has can perform a complete winterization service for you.

Fuel Stabilizer Explained

Fuel Stabilizer for your Scooter - Scooter Underground - www.scooterunderground.ca

What Happens to Fuel When it is Stored?

Gasoline is made up of many different organic compounds. These organic compounds are constantly changing over time becoming new compounds that change the characteristics of the fuel. The same molecules that make up the best parts of gasoline can react with oxygen and other elements in the environment and form new molecules that build up to form gummy residues or varnish-like films that can clog up passages in fuel lines, carburetors, and injectors.

Some fuels are treated with oxidation inhibitors to allow them to be stored for up to 3 months without generating excessive deposits. Other fuels have no inhibitors at all. In any case, storage of equipment requires some special consideration for the fuel system.

Why Can’t These Problems be Avoided by Draining Fuel? One way to avoid most of these deposits is to completely drain the fuel tank and fuel lines. This procedure poses a number of problems. First, it is virtually impossible to get every drop of fuel out of the system by simply draining. In order to remove all fuel, lines must be blown out and dried, or enough fuel will remain to cause problems. Second, draining the fuel exposes the bare metal in the tank (many scooters have plastic tanks) and fuel system to air and moisture which, together, can result in the formation of rust and corrosion and which can allow gaskets to dry out, crack and shrink, leading to fuel leaks when the system is refilled. Third, drained fuel is a fire and safety hazard and represents an environmental problem. Properly disposing of this fuel is difficult. For these reasons, draining is not the solution.

Does Fuel Stored in a Tank or Can Cause Problems? Fuel stored in cans or tanks will also oxidize with many of the “bad acting” unstable molecules remaining in the solution. Using this fuel next season, greatly increases the likelihood that deposits will form in fuel systems while the equipment is used. In other words, stored fuel needs treatment too.

What does a fuel stabilizer such as STA-BIL Do? Fuel stabilizers are a blend of scientific additives all of which act together to prevent fuel from undergoing degradation and oxidation during prolonged storage. STA-BIL acts as a protective wrapper around fuel molecules so they cannot combine with oxygen or other molecules to form new “bad actor” molecules. The “sweetened” fuel will perform its job thereafter as though it had just been freshly pumped into the fuel tank straight from the refinery pipeline.

How Well Does STA-BIL Work? Better than you can imagine. On average, STA-BIL improves gasoline life 5 times. The average gasoline is extended from 3 months oxidation life without STA-BIL to 15 months with STA-BIL. Compared to any other products pretending to extend fuel life, STA-BIL is 4 to 9 times more effective according to accepted standard fuel stability tests IASTM D5251.

What Kind of Engines Need STA-BIL? Any engine stored for 90 days or more needs STA-BIL. This includes all 2-cycle or 4-cycle engines used in lawnmowers, marine engines (inboard and outboard, snow-throwers, motorcycles, chain saws, recreation vehicles, snowmobiles, generators, pumps, golf carts, automobiles, trucks, garden tillers, lawn edgers, garden tractors, farm equipment, mini- bikes, motorscooters, you name it. If it has an engine and is stored for a season or more, it needs STA-BIL.

Is STA-BIL Hard to Use? It’s simple. Just add STA-BIL to the fuel according to the recommended dosage on the package. (Measuring is easy based on the number of squeezes through the measuring cap.  Agitate the fuel tank if possible, then start and run the engine for 5 minutes or more. After that, simply shut off the engine and store the equipment away. Next season, the engine will start easily and run smoothly.

Article Courtesy of Scooter Underground www.scooterunderground.ca

Based on our experience and from a collection of scooter resources on the internet.

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2 Comments »

  • admin said:

    This article has got a lot of positive feedback on the Scooter Underground website http://www.scooterunderground.ca

    Please submit any constructive feedback and additions and we will be delighted to post them.
    Also, if you have any other ideas for scooter care an maintenance articles, send us a message

  • » Winter Scooter Riding said:

    […] wrote an article on putting away your scooter for the winter…but what if you ride through the […]

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