Have you just parked your jeep in front of the house after a great rough terrain drive? Did you switch the engine off, listen to it pinking as it cooled down then realise your eyes were streaming, your nose was red and running, and the lobes of your ears were just a few degrees away from suffering from frostbite?
Yes, that time of the year is rapidly encroaching. You know it’s time to make the sad decision of putting your jeep into storage for the winter while you subconsciously rue the day you thought you were saving money by not purchasing the hard top.
1. Are you garage ready
Storing a jeep for winter involves just a bit more than parking it in the garage and closing the doors until spring. You need to make sure that once it’s inside you can still get to anything you might need during the months to come. Stuff like a snow shovel, jump start cables and de-icer for the family saloon which the onset of inclement weather has reduced you to driving. Once you’ve got the garage organised and know you’ve got easy access to vital equipment, without having to go through a Houdini-style contortionist routine past the jeep to reach it, you’ll be ready to start on the important stuff.
2. Give it the loving touch
Yes, your jeep really does deserve some special attention before you put it into hibernation. While you’re giving the paintwork and wheels a thorough clean, try remembering all those marvellous drives you’ve been on. While you’re waxing it, imagine all the amazing drives to come when the weather picks up. It’ll help take the sting out of the labour. Making sure the bodywork is dirt free will also help prevent any unwanted spots of rust from appearing. If you’ve got a lot of chrome trim on your jeep, after you’ve polished it, give it a light coating of Vaseline to prevent it from pitting.
3. Be fluid
While you may have been attentive to your jeep’s fluid needs while driving it around, checking oil levels and topping up the coolant every so often, before you put it away for the winter is a good time to give both a complete overall. There’s no point in letting used motor oil stagnate in the Jeep’s system for a few months. Drain it off and refill it with new. Same goes for the coolant. Change it up for anti-freeze or combination coolant/antifreeze. Why replace both a completely fresh supply? There are two good reasons for doing this. One – when you start the jeep up in the spring, you know for sure there won’t be any particles of dirt floating around in either which could cause a blockage. The second, well, you get to take one last drive around the block to make sure both have fully circulated through the Jeep’s system.
4. Red carpet treatment
Okay, so the carpet doesn’t necessarily have to be red, but it’s a good idea to lay something down on the garage floor before you drive the jeep in. Being in constant contact with cement is not overly good for pneumatics so any old scrap of carpet spread out on the floor or even an old tarpaulin will prevent damage to the tires.
It also helps maintain them in good condition if you pump them up a little more than their usual poundage per square inch or psi if you want to be technical. Though don’t overdo it. They should look plump, but not bulging like one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s biceps. You’ll need to return them to the correct pressure before driving the jeep again so don’t forget to write it on your list of things to do when it’s time to hit the road again.
So you finally got the jeep in the garage and yes, the moment has come to switch off the ignition and put the keys somewhere safe until next year. But don’t think you’ve finished the storage process yet, because you haven’t. There are still quite a few things to be done. It’s time to pop the hood again for the sole purpose of disconnecting and removing the battery. While it prevents the battery draining, as long as you store it under the right conditions, it also makes sure that even if a pesky rodent does have a chew through some cables, nothing is going to short circuit and so removing the battery during winter storage is a good fire prevention method.
6. Please Release me
While you’ve obviously had the parking brake on while you’ve been putting your jeep to sleep, it’s a good idea to chock the wheels and release it when you’ve finished. Left on for several months at a time, the cables or parts can seize up from non-use. Make this your last task for safety reason. Put the chocks under the wheels before you release the handbrake. You really don’t want the jeep to roll over your foot.
7. Be a pest to the pests
it doesn’t matter how clean and tidy your garage is or even if you have the hungriest cat in the neighbourhood, there’s always the possibility that winter-starved rodents will break in to your garage and go foraging for any goodie they can find to chew on. That could easily be your jeep.
Make sure you’ve left nothing edible under the seats or in the glovebox. That includes discarded wrappers from your favorite chocolate bar. Mice will smell them a mile off. While they won’t offer the rodents any nutritional sustenance, once they’ve arrived they may well decide to stay and feast on your upholstery. If you’re seriously worried about rodent damage, you can install a couple of humane catch and release traps as long as you’re going to have the time to check them regularly. If not then don’t. The odour of a dead and decomposing mouse is pretty hard to shift.
If you’re unlucky enough to get the odd roach or two wander through your garage space, drop a roach trap or bait station near the jeep’s pedals and in the passenger floor space. It’ll keep them away and save you the horror of seeing antennae waving at you from the air vents come Spring. They usually have an active lifespan of around three months. So if you do have a roach problem, you might need to change the bait stations during the storage period to make sure they stay effective.
8. Wrap it up
if you’re not one hundred percent certain your garage is going to remain dry throughout the winter, you might want to think about wrapping the seats in a good layer of industrial strength Saran wrap. You’ll need to make sure they’re well aired first, or even throw a few sachets of silicone gel under the Saran wrap. As well as protecting the seats from moisture damage, it’ll also give them protection in case you do get a hungry rodent sniffing around. They’ll need to chew through a good layer of plastic, which will more than likely give them a belly ache before they get to the seats.
9. Under Cover
Once you have gone through all the stages of preparing your jeep for winter, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t get dusty inside or out. Best way to do that is with a vehicle cover. Unfold it, flip it over the jeep and the job’s done. This also helps to prevent that sad nauseous pang you’ll get every time you enter the garage and see the jeep you can’t drive.
So you’ve gone through the tick list of things to do to store your jeep for winter. The jeeps covered up. What’s next? It’s time to close the garage door. You can’t do more and you can’t change the weather either. What you can do is buy a calendar, hang it next to your favorite chair by the fireplace and mark each day off until Spring gets there. One more thing – don’t forget to make a note of where you put the keys.