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Winterizing Your Scooter

Our winters can be long and taxing (on your scooter as well as on you), to keep your scooter in the best possible shape you should take several steps before parking your scoot for the winter. It isn't so much the cold as it is the lack of use which effects a winterized scooter, so don't think that a heated storage is enough to do the job. If you perform these simple steps every winter you will improve the performance and lifespan of your scooter and its parts.

Protect from the Elements: The best option is to garage your scooter, but if that is not an available option, you will definitely want to put a good quality motorcycle cover over your scooter. You will also want to put a 2x4 under your wheels (and your side or centerstand too) so they have less contact with the cold wet ground. This will improve the life of your tires for sure.

If you don't have a garage to store your scooter in, contact me at info -at- vtscoot.com and I'll see if I have room in my garage for you

Fill Your Tank: It doesn't take much for a fuel tank to gather rust (which will eventually get into your fuel line and gunk up everything), so before you put your scooter away for the year fill up your tank all the way to the top and cap it up tight. If your gas cap has a vent in it (most gravity-feeding tanks will have one of these tiny holes) you might also want to put some plastic or some duct tape over the tank opening before capping it up - now it is oxygen-proofed!

Stabilize Your Fuel: If left for long periods, 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. There are a number of cheap and easy fuel stabilizers that you can get at any auto parts store for around $5 a bottle. Follow the instructions on the bottle as to how much fuel to put into your tank, and before you put it away ride it around for a couple miles to ensure the stabilizer makes it all the way through the fuel line and into your carbeuretor. Be sure to turn the fuel tap to "Off" before parking it.

Pull 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 and 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.

Periodically through the winter, put a battery tender (which can be bought at any motorcycle shop for around 30 or 40 dollars) on it 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.

Change the Oil: A lot of grime can build up in your gearbox and collect in the bottom, as well as on your gears. It's a good rule of thumb to change the oil before the winter, rather than after. It will also give you 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.

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 cyllinder to rust proof those parts as well, so find your cyllinder 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 cyllinder and help rustproof them.

Relax the Suspension: If you want to go an extra yard, lift up the back end of your scooter by having someone push down on the handlebars while it's on its centerstand, and then put a milk crate or block of wood under your rear cowls. This should lift the rear wheel off the ground just enough to let your suspension relax. Not a neccessary step, but if you want to be extra-thorough, this is a nice measure to help the longevity of your shocks.

Article by Kevin Montanaro


The VTScoot InfoBase

The Scooter Defined Winterizing Your Scoot
The Vermont Scooterist Spring Tune-Up
Scooter Buying 101 Tools to Carry
Riding Gear 101 Buyer Beware: Modern
Buyer Beware: Vintage VT "Moped" Definition
Tuning Your Carburetor Basic Maintenance
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Rules For Group Riding  



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