Piston Slap: The Lonesome Honda S2000 and the Army's Korean Expat

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap the lonesome honda s2000 and the army s korean expat

Sokhom writes:

I’m in the Army and I’ve moved to Korea for at least two years. I have a 2000 Honda S2000 that I left with my father in law in his garage. I’ve read advice from S2000 forums about slightly jacking up the car to “unspring” the suspension to spraying something into the cylinders to keep the piston rings from drying. There’s also a debate about whether it’s good to crank the car every so often or not. What is a guy to do?

Sajeev answers:

No matter what car forum you read, there’s bound to be several stories of owner’s being depoyed to a foreign country and in need of storage advice. There are standard operating procedures for keeping a car healthy during hibernation, the problem is making sure someone does it.

My point: take the advice and make it an excuse to keep in touch with your family. You know, more often than you would otherwise. Not that I’m suggesting you love your car more than your family . . . but I’m sure you have one uncle/aunt/cousin that really drives you nuts.

Maybe we should get to the advice before I dig myself even deeper into a hole:

– Run the engine (to operating temperature) every month, at the least. That isn’t easy advice to follow, but waiting any longer ensures the job gets tougher as the battery gets weaker.

– Change the oil annually. Oil goes bad sitting in a crankcase, and you want a healthy motor when you get back home and spin it up to 9k revs.

– Even though it’s garaged, I’d step on the brake pedal every month, ensuring the brake pistons don’t rust shut in the caliper. (Which may not apply here, some calipers have phenolic pistons.)

– Crank up the tire pressure to over 50psi to help prevent flat spotting. Disregard this information if the tires are already 2+ years old, they’ll be plasticized garbage when you get back.

– Get a cheapo car cover to keep accidents inside the garage from scratching the paint.

– Put a small box of baking soda (the smarter design of the refrigerator pack works nicely) in the cabin to keep moisture or funny smells from the interior. Replace every year, at the latest.

– You mentioned lifting the car: that really keeps rodents in the garage and out of your interior. Mouse traps are a great idea, too. But I’ve heard that raising a car without compressing the springs fatigue them bad enough to merit replacement. This isn’t my forte, so I’ll blindly suggest getting eight jack stands: four for the chassis and one for each control arm.

– Fill up your tank, and put fuel stabilizer in there too. Read the instructions to see how much is needed for your tank.

– Have your father-in-law drive the car every month. Then you (he) can worry about and 2, 5, 6, and 8, and disregard everything else.

And with that, thank you for your inquiry. And thank you for your service to our country.

[Send your technical queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Sep 08, 2009
    Tosh : I don’t discard 5+ year-old tires that are run every day. Depending on how aggressive you drive, how performance oriented the tires are, or how wet it gets in your area, that's pretty dangerous advice. Tires dry rot, get hard, and eventually crack. If you want to risk your life, have at it. This is a Honda S2000, the advice might be different if he was parking a Town Car. But he's not.
  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Sep 08, 2009
    Tosh: Have you ever seen an old tire become “plasticized garbage”? Where do you get these ideas? Are you just trying to start controversy? And for the record, if I didn't see late model performance cars turn 3-5 year old tires into rubbish, I wouldn't mention it. Granted the S2000 may not see the trashing of a track or a high-hp vehicle like a Ford GT, but tires take a beating and their performance drops significantly after use...and continues to get worse as it sits for a year or more.
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