Preparing Your Miata for Winter


When it comes to going through a winter with a Miata there are several ways you can go. Simply keep driving it so you can enjoy the Zoom-Zoom feeling year round, driving it on just the nice days, or storing it till spring.


For those of you in the first group, the transition is simple. You simply change to your winter tires and keep going. The rest of us have it a little harder.


The other two groups are actually very similar in what they need to do. The main difference between these two groups is in how long their Miatas set. So I will discuss them together and finish by giving a couple of additional tips for those Miatas that get stored for the entire winter.


The first thing to do is give your Miata a thorough cleaning. Now I know that most of us keep our Miatas spotless all of the time, or at least that is what our neighbors say based on often they see us cleaning them. But it is still important to give it that final VERY THOROUGH cleaning. Be sure to spray the undercarriage and wheel wells. You want to get all of the dirt out to reduce the chance of moisture being trapped and eventually causing rest. Also give your Miata a fresh coat of wax to protect the finish.


Finally do not forget to clean the interior. Get all of those remnants of summer out of the nooks and crannies. With the cleaning finished it is time to move on to the mechanicals.


It is very important to change the oil before you put your Miata away for the winter. The oil in your crankcase contains contaminants that are the byproducts of combustion. It is not good to leave these in your engine all winter. So regardless of the milage since your last oil change it is a good idea to give your Miata a fresh crankcase of oil before putting her to sleep till spring. And yes, like always, change the oil filter while you are at it.


With these major things completed there are several other things to check. Make sure the tire pressure is correct. Remember that the colder temperatures cause the air pressure to drop. While you are airing up the tires think about how some people recommend over inflating the tires to reduce the chance of flat spotting while they sit over the winter. Personally I just keep the tires at the correct pressure and let them ride rough the first few miles until they warm up and loose the flat spots. It is also a good idea to make sure the coolant is still up to the task of not freezing and ruining your engine.


Beyond these things there are few other preparations that need to be done. You might want to put a cover over the car to protect it while it sits there. If you are storing the Miata for the entire winter you may want to disconnect the battery. I have also heard of people that put a ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe to keep mice from building a nest in the tail pipe. Some people even put moth balls in the interior to repel the mice from sitting, or nesting, in your seats.


After all of these tips you may wonder what I personally do for my Miata. Well, I plan to keep it ready to drive on those days when the roads are clear and dry. On those days I especially watch out for the white salt brine residue that is often left on the streets. This residue can be very harmful if you leave it on or under your Miata.


I start by changing the oil and thoroughly cleaning my Miata as I stated above. I then put her in her place in the garage and put on the cover. If the weather does not allow me to get her out once a month or so, I start her and let her run until she is completely warmed up.  I make sure she runs long enough to bring the oil up to operating temperature and evaporate off any moisture that accumulates in the crankcase those first few seconds that it runs.


If the temperature is warm enough, over 40 degrees, I will probably have the top down. If you do not have one of the canvas tops make sure to follow the temperature precautions that are in your owners manual before lowering or raising the top.


Regardless of what you do with your Miata remember that spring will come and we can then all go ZOOM-ZOOM again.