Winter Storing your Land Rover
GENERAL SERVICING: I have received a couple of phone calls from members asking for information regarding the winter storage of their Land Rover. While I had planned on writing an article on what steps one should take to drive the Land Rover through the winter, more people seem to be interested in the storage aspect this month. My quick and dirty researches have lead to information that is more suited for longer term storage, though much of this information should be valid for the four or five months that the Land Rover will be laid up over the winter. Next month expect an article on winterizing the Land Rover for driving purposes. I hope everyone finds the information relevant and useful. This will also provide all with a copy should people decide to file for future reference. Next month, we should have another missive from Mike Rooth writing us on re padding those seats which generally resemble a mass of duct tape. Dale is still playing coy on his short narrative on fixing those seized freewheeling hubs.
Location: If at all possible store the car in a garage. Also if possible store in a cool, dry environment where the temp does not fall below freezing, extremely high temps are also as bad. In the dead of winter, parking the Land Rover on grass doesn't matter, but in this November weather right now, if the Land Rover is on grass, the underside will be filling with moisture that will not be out until Spring. On gravel is the best outside if available.
Engine/Fuel System: the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember when mothballing an engine is to do it while it is warm. All the procedures are worthless if moisture has a chance to seep into a cold engine. Their are two approaches here. The first: The fuel system can be prepared by using a siphon pump to remove as much gas as possible from the tank, then let the engine run until it's out of gas. If gas is left in the system it will evaporate, leaving a deposit that can damage the engine and fuel components. Mix up a 3-4 quart solution of kerosene and oil (three parts kerosene to one part oil), dump it in the tank and bounce the car to thoroughly slosh and coat the inside of the tank. The second is to keep the fuel tank full to the brim. With the tank full, there will not be condensation inside the tank (which we all know to generally be unpainted steel) and thus no water in the gas in the Spring when you try to get the Land Rover going again.
Remove the spark plugs and ground the large ignition wire coming from the coil to the distributor. Pour one ounce of non-detergent oil through the spark plug port of each cylinder. Use the same weight oil you would normally use. Reinstall the plugs, but not the coil wire. Crank the engine over 5-10 seconds. This will coat the cylinders with oil and draw the kerosene/oil mixture into the fuel pump and carb(s) to help in the rustproofing process. Replace the spark plugs. Leaving them out invites things to fall in.
Change the oil and filter. Contaminants in dirty oil can cause serious problems when left in the engine. The more fastidious can run the engine for ten - fifteen minutes or so and then change the oil again.
Relieve tension on all drive belts.
Cooling: Drain the coolant. Flush the cooling system and re-fill with fresh, rust-inhibiting coolant to normal strength/levels.
Gearbox & Differentials: Top off oil levels. [I have found no mention as to draining and replacing the oil with fresh stuff. For some, it would be a very good idea to drain the oil for the winter and replace with fresh oil. More that one diff opened up in the past two months has spilled forth quite a flow of water. That water will freeze nicely, leading to some fun at breaking the solid ice up (yes, it can be done, ask Dale)) Since no specific mention was made, I assume no oil change is necessary]. Leave the car in neutral with the parking brake off. Some write where possible, cut a piece of wood long enough to fit from the bottom of the dash to fully depress the clutch. Otherwise the clutch plates will rust together. However, this places pressure on the seals and cylinders for a long time and might cause problems depending on the condition of the system.
Electrical: Two options: remove the battery, bring inside and don't put on a concrete floor; or trickle charge the battery until it is fully charged and leave in the Land Rover with at least one wire detached. Throw some mothballs behind the dash in among the wires.
Exhaust: Use some type of plug and duct tape to plug the exhaust pipe(s) and air cleaner(s). Also plug oil breather valves. If a newer, closed type system, this last step is not necessary. Plug anything possible going into/out of the engine/exhaust system.
Interior: Put some mothballs inside the dash. They will tend to keep the mice away. Mice tend to find the rats nest of wire back their an idea place to build mouse nests. Use a good quality upholstery cleaner and plenty of elbow grease. This will clean and soften the upholstery and get it ready for an application of silicone spray. Don't forget to treat all the plastic interior parts with silicone spray. Neat's-foot oil works well on leather. (I do note that this may be very unnecessary for some of us, but there are some nice Land Rovers in the club)
Chrome: a light layer of petroleum jelly will preserve chrome, while bright metal trim needs no special treatment.
Suspension: Put the car on jack stands or blocks and remove the wheels. If for any reason you are unable to remove the wheels, blocking under the springs will at least eliminate tire flat spots as well as ease strain on shocks, wheel bearings, etc. If the car cannot be lifted off the ground, increase tire pressure by 10-15 psi. Flat spots could be a problem with radials, those of us with bias ply wouldn't notice the difference between sitting for two weeks versus six months.
Cover: If you have found a car cover that can cover the Land Rover, assuming you are going to use it open a window JUST a crack and cover the car with a top quality car cover. DON'T use plastic to over the car as it cannot breathe and moisture will be trapped against the body.
RETURN to driving condition: Add gas. Install freshly charged battery. Tighten all belts. Check all fluid levels. Check tire pressures. Remove all plugs from the engine/exhaust system, as you want the engine to be able to turn as easily as possible. Disconnect the fuel line between the fuel pump and carb(s). Provide a catch basin for the fuel and turn the engine over until you begin to see oil pressure beginning to build. This will both pump out any residue in the fuel line and provide oil to the engine parts. Reconnect the fuel line, reinstall (un-ground) the coil wire, install new spark plugs, and fire away.
Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter, November, 1994