Piston Slap: Weathering the Long Winter

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap weathering the long winter

Longtime TTAC commentator mikey writes:


In the years since I last wrote to you my personal circumstances took a few turns. When the dust settled, I ended up with three cars. I decided to keep all three cars. The Cobalt is my daily/winter driver, and I will drive it to the ground. My wife loves the Mustang: we drop the top and take it on a cruise, she loves it, and it gets us out of the house.

About a year or so ago, I was feeling sorry for myself, traded the Impala in, and bought a new 2011 2SS Camaro with a six speed. It is a very cool car. If I’m having a bad day I pull it out of the garage, detail it and look at it. Once in a while, we may take it for a drive. Those drives are getting more and more rare. Less than 8000 kms on the clock, but I’m not planning on selling it. That may change, but not for a while…

My questions:

  1. Do I need to do more than a yearly oil change on the Camaro? GM recommends synthetic.
  2. How long can I let it sit in my garage before seals and stuff dry out? I use fuel stabilizer for the winter. Do I need to use the stabilizer all the time?
  3. I’d rather not put it into long-term storage. If its been sitting for a month or two,is a short trip around the block enough to prevent seals drying out. Maybe I should consider long-term storage? If opt for long-term storage then what do I have to do?

Sajeev if you use this for Piston Slap, great! I’d love to hear some of the B&B ‘s recommendations.

Sajeev answers:

After giving us such insight in the months leading up to GM’s bankruptcy, how could we say no to you? And if I recall, that Impala was part of your buyout from GM…we are a part of your life, no matter what!

The twists and turns we experience in our personal lives are quite amazing. Someone or something can change you forever. Except that it does not: continually managing the negativity and focusing on a continuous stream of positive experiences is the best path to overcoming any problem. Like trading the Impala for a Camaro SS: you gotta do it, to it!

Rambling aside, my life on Texas’ Gulf coast gives me zero first hand knowledge. So put up with my drivel and get the scoop from the B&B afterwards.

  1. Annual oil changes (synthetic or no) are perfect, especially if you do run the motor up to normal operating temperature a few times every year. Water contamination is a valid problem with any automotive lubricant, but yearly oil changes and regular exercise will make this issue a non-starter.
  2. Fuel stabilizer in the winter is a great idea, probably not necessary all year for a car this new and not stored in a museum. I wouldn’t even start worrying about seals and other rubber bits until 5-10 years of natural aging. Dry rotted tires will be your biggest problem, but that’s at least 4 years away…probably more like 6-7 years away. And the other bits? Well, if you can run the motor once a month in the garage (again, up to operating temperature) this will definitely help everything as the years go by. More importantly, don’t worry about these failures until a visual inspection (i.e. cracks from dry rot or an actual leak) tells you otherwise.
  3. Long term storage sounds like a waste for a dude like you. Just give it a little monthly exercise, change the oil annually, add fuel stabilizer when it gets cold and be a happy camper.

Best and Brightest?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 67 comments
  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Oct 24, 2013

    Mikey, I have kept my 95 Probe GT in mint condition. It never gets driven in salt, and it sits in a garage that has radiant heat for the last four years. My advice for you: In the non winter, make sure you use the car at least once every three weeks and drive it enough to warm it up thorigyly and that includes the transmission. Keeping her clean and dry helps a lot, as does limiting sun exposure. I have Rio red which like all reds back then can fade pretty badly. I have barely discernable fade. Winter time: Keep a battery tender on the car. Fuel tank full. No need for stabilizer IMHO. If at all possible, when the road is dry, take if for a spin. Even if the road is white with salt, but there is no moisture, you will be ok. Just try to avoid those paths of melt water and salt that pop up. That crap is super concentrated. Keep the tires pressurized to high 30s. This is my receipe and my car is near factory fresh after 70K miles. DON'T SELL THAT CAR!!

  • Mikey Mikey on Oct 24, 2013

    @g2h....Thank you sir. Great advice.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.