Piston Slap: Weathering the Long Winter

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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  • 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.

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.