When it gets cold outside, many scooters and mopeds sit unused for several months at a time. After a few winter months of sitting unused, many bikes won’t start and run correctly. Metro Scooters can service these scooters to get them back in top running shape. However, there are a few steps you can take to winterize your scooter to ensure it runs well when the spring arrives.
Step 1: Battery Maintenance:
Over the cold winter months, batteries have a tendency to discharge. When a discharged battery sits for a period of time, lead sulfate builds up in your battery which ultimately leaves a battery ruined and unable to be recharged.
The best way to prevent battery damage is to hook your battery up to a trickle charger or maintenance charger while your bike is not in use. These products can be purchased from an automotive parts store, and typically run $20-$40. You want to use a small automatic maintenance charger that supplies 1 - 1.5 amps (please don’t use a full size automobile charger as they tend to destroy the small scooter/moped batteries). Your auto parts store can advise you if you ask for a trickle/ maintenance charger that has 1 - 1.5 amps of charging power.
If you store your scooter in a garage with access to a wall outlet, you can leave the battery installed in the scooter, connect the trickle/maintenance charger and leave it connected until you are ready to take your scooter out for a ride. If you store your scooter outside, remove the battery, and place the battery inside on a small block of wood (don’t leave them on a cold concrete floor) connected to a trickle/maintenance charger.
Step 2: Gasoline and Carburetor Maintenance:
Most gasoline now contains ethanol that is added to gas in the refining process. Unlike pure gasoline, this ethanol/gasoline mixture tends to absorb water and evaporate over time. Unfortunately, if a scooter sits for a longer period of time, the gasoline/ethanol mixture will absorb water and evaporate inside the float bowl of your carburetor leaving a sticky “gum” that clogs the tiny jets in the carburetor. With the jets clogged in the carburetor the scooter is often hard or impossible to start and/or creates a very poor running scooter when you start riding in the spring.
Using a fuel stabilizer formulated for gas containing ethanol can help keep your carburetor working well over winter storage. We sell fuel stabilizer at Metro Scooters, or you can purchase it from your local auto parts store. To properly store a scooter for winter, we suggest filling your tank with 90+ octane gasoline, and at the same time adding the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer to your gas tank (most 50cc scooters have 1.5 gallon tanks and only take 1-2 ounces of stabilizer depending on the brand of stabilizer you use). Then run your scooter for approximately 5-7 miles or 20 minutes to allow the gas/stabilizer mixture to move from your gas tank down into your carburetor.
As an added precaution, you can also drain your carburetor float (most scooters have a float bowl drain screw which can be loosened to drain gas from your carburetor for longer storage). Just be careful, as loosening this screw will discharge a few ounces of gas from your scooter.
Step 3: Tire Storage:
Over time, tires that don’t roll tend to deflate and become misshapen from sitting in the same spot. If left too long, the tire won’t roll evenly and can create a wobble or bumping feel when you start riding again. Sometimes, the tire can dry-rot and crack creating a hazardous driving condition.
To guard against tire damage, we suggest inflating your tires to their recommended PSI prior to storage. While in storage check them once every 2-3 weeks (a bicycle pump can be used) to make sure they don’t slowly deflate. At the same time, roll the bike around and rest it on a different section of the tire for the next 2-3 weeks. This helps keep your tires nice and round while in storage.
Step 4: Ride your Scooter Periodically:
One of the best ways to keep your scooter working well over the winter months (in addition to the steps above) is to ride the scooter for about 5-7 miles / 15-20 minutes about once a week. Unfortunately, just starting and idling a scooter does not do the trick – you need to take it out for a short ride.
We suggest that when you get a break in the cold weather, and there is no snow or ice on the road, to take your scooter out for a short ride. This is one of the best things you can do to keep your scooter in good running order.
At Metro Scooters, we can get scooters back into prime running condition after winter storage; and can also provide the products and advice you need to help winterize your scooter for storage. Please feel free to give us a call if you have questions.
Happy and safe scooting!