Do you winterize your scooter? If not, you should! Winterizing is an important part of gas scooter maintenance... at least, if you plan to start riding again, come warm weather!
I love the Fall! It's my favorite time of the year... crisp, cool days, just right for scooter cruising in all your hot protective gear. Beautiful colors are all around you and the world sings. At least that's my take on fall...
But eventually, the cool breezes give way to truly cold, biting winds that freeze your face, fingers and knees... even behind the protection of the farings and your windshield.
The roads are often wetter and slipperier too. Time to think about putting your scooter away for the year. (Unless you happen to be one of those intrepid souls who think nothing of slapping on the snowmobile suit and hopping on the scooter, no matter how much snow or ice have landed on the pavement!)
Most of us will opt to put the scooter away and revert to boring car driving again.
But, if you love riding your scooter as much as I do, the wet, snowy, icy winter months can seem to last forever. You just can't wait till warmer spring weather arrives and you can get back out there on the roads, in two-wheeling heaven. Am I right?
Unfortunately, all your dreams and anticipations are going to come to a screeching halt of total disappointment if you don't pay attention to the need to winterize your scooter in the fall or early winter.
Winterizing is an essential part of your routine gas scooter maintenance. If you don't winterize your scooter, then it's going to be dead in the water in spring...
When your scooter is not used for a period of time, the battery can slowly drain and become inoperational, especially if your scooter is kept where it is continuously cold, even in a garage or shed. If you keep your scooter out in the open, then wet can seep into all its parts.
Your gas can also turn into sludge, if you don't ride your scooter for a few months... or even a few weeks.
In short, your scooter suffers from neglect and nonuse, just like most motorized vehicles. So you DO want to winterize your scooter, believe me!
Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to winterize your scooter so that all will be well, come spring.
Just follow each of these steps and your scooter should be good to go, once the weather is a go!
1. Protect the battery. Batteries don't last forever, but you can prolong the life of your scooter battery by protecting it from draining during the winter. If you just cover or garage your scooter, without doing anything to the battery, there's a good chance it'll be dead come spring. You have a couple of options...
Remove the battery. You can take the battery completely out of your scooter and store it somewhere warm during the winter. I keep mine in our laundry room. It might still need to be recharged come spring, but it's not as likely to be dead for good. I have a manual 12v charger that has revived mine every time.
Put a trickle charger on the battery. You can also buy a device called a trickle charger or battery tender, that attaches to your battery when not in use and keeps it from draining completely. Read up on battery tenders here
2. Stabilize your fuel. Gas tends to turn to sludge or worse when your scooter is not started and run for long periods (even of a few weeks). Good news is, they make stabilizing products you can get for a few bucks. Here's what you do to winterize your scooter gas tank:
First, fill your gas tank up. A full tank helps prevent condensation from forming in the tank during the cold months.
Next, add something like Sta-bil or Seafoam to the tank, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
Then, drive your scooter around for 10 to 30 minutes to mix it in to the gas well.
Finally, fill up the tank one more time.
Plug the gas cap vent. If your gas cap has a vent in it (look for tiny holes) you may also want to plug it up with some plastic or some duct tape to oxygen-proof it.
3. Wash your scooter. Get out the soap, hot water, brushes and so forth and give your scooter a bath, from head to toe... plastic, chrome, rubber and metal parts should all be addressed. Get all the bug guts, grease, and road grime off, so they don't corrode the scoot over the winter.
4. Change the oil and oil filter. I read some recommendations to change the oil and oil filter as part of the winterize your scooter process, so no contaminants sit in your tank all winter. I guess it depends on if you did that shortly before winterizing, though.
5. Give it a head to toe check-up. When you winterize your scooter, it's a good time to go over everything with a fine tooth comb... and take care of it now, while you're not wanting to ride it anyway. Here are some things to check:
Check your tire pressure. Make sure you're at maximum pressure to avoid any flattening of an unused scooter. Some recommend you put the front tire up on blocks too (assuming your rear tire is already raised up on the center stand). I think this would be especially important if your scooter is stored out of doors on dirt or grass.
Check for loose hoses, electrical connections, screws & bolts. In fact, check for loose or broken parts of all kinds and get them tightened, fixed or replaced now, while you can.
Check for cracked fuel lines. Fuel lines may need to be replaced yearly or so to avoid gas leaks.
6. Protect the scooter from rust. Rust isn't good for your scooter. To prevent it, you can cover your exhaust pipe with a plastic bag and hold it in place with a rubber band. This keeps oxygen and moisture out of your exhaust system. Also, spray a little WD40 directly into your cylinder head to rust proof the cylinder and piston too.
7. Put her to "bed" for the winter. Once you have done all of the above, you're ready to put your scooter down for her long winter's nap. Hopefully, you'll have a dedicated spot in your garage or shed to keep the scooter in. Even so, it should be covered, even if only with a sheet, to keep dust and debris off.
If you don't have a garage and don't want to store your scooter outdoors, check with your local scooter shop... they might offer garaging services; mine does. For a fee, they'll store scooters inside for up to 6 months and also do a spring tune-up. Pretty sweet deal, if you need it. You could also rent a storage unit for your scoot.
If you must store your scooter outside, then be sure to cover it with a waterproof scooter cover. If you can't afford a real motorcycle/scooter cover, then at least a rainproof tarp from your local WalMart should be securely fastened around it. If you think mice might be a problem, a few mothballs thrown in under your seat or into your topcase should do the trick.
Do you have to do all of these things? No, of course not. But if you don't, I can't guarantee you'll be riding on the first warm spring day... or during the January thaw. Your poor neglected scooter will instead be waiting for you to show a little love before it feels like taking you for a ride!
So... If you love your scooter and you love scootering, then do take the time to winterize your scooter... you'll thank me next spring!
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