November is winterizing month, making it time to prepare your aircraft for the colder days ahead, whether you plan to use it throughout the harsh months, or if you plan to store it. Storing your aircraft in a hangar where it will be protected from the bitter weather is the best, but there are some things you should do whether it will be in a hangar or at in outside tie-down. It is good habit every year to go through a quick check list of the steps you must take to maintain your aircraft’s peak efficiency through the winter.
If you do not plan on flying much during the winter:
- Change the oil before you put your plane away
- Add one quart of preservative oil as part of the oil change
- Before you put the plane away, do a short flight on the oil to ensure that all of the parts of the engine are supplied with new oil.
If you live in a warmer climate or use your plane all winter long:
- Stay with your normal, every four months oil change schedule
- During the winter months, consider using a multigrade oil, especially if you do not have any pre-heat equipment and/or plan on flying into colder climates. Multigrade oils don’t eliminate the need for pre-heating; they only give you an extra margin of safety during cold start conditions.
- When using auto gas, remember that it is good for about six months
- If your plane sit longer than that, fill up with 100LL before you put it in storage
- Auto gas that contains ethanol that sits during storage absorbs water and becomes corrosive — if you have fuel that has ethanol, drain the tank completely and refill with a fuel sans ethanol
- Since all qualified aviation greases have excellent low temperature properties, there is no need to change grease
- Even though there is no need to change grease, make sure you clean greased areas before storage
- Try not to use power washers, because it may strip off all of the grease and some parts are designed to be kept in grease and not meant to have an moisture
This list is not a complete list of all things needed to prep your small aircraft for winter. Consult your manual, or for a more comprehensive list, check out AVWeb‘s for more recommendations.