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Motorcycle Carburetors and Fuel Injectors Winterization

If you’re planning to leave your motorcycle in the garage through the winter, you’ll want to perform several maintenance tasks to prepare it for long-term storage. One of these tasks is winterizing your motorcycle’s carburetor or fuel injectors. 

Older bikes that have carburetors require a few extra maintenance tasks compared to modern fuel injection systems. Understanding the complexities of your motorcycle and the steps you need to take before long-term storage can help you keep your bike in the best possible condition. 

Read on to learn the tasks you must take for motorcycle carburetors and fuel injectors winterization before leaving your bike in storage. 

Winterizing your Carburetor

Most modern bikes no longer use carburetors to supply fuel to the engine. However, if you own an older motorcycle, it probably has a carburetor, and you need to know how to prepare this component for the winter. 

Carburetors include many small orifices and grooves that can easily become clogged with gasoline. This effect worsens when the gas has been sitting in the fuel tank for weeks or months, as most of the fuel’s components will evaporate, leaving behind a thick varnish that is challenging to clean. 

As a result, you will need to drain the carburetor and add fresh fuel to the fuel tank in preparation for storing your bike through the winter. 

Draining the Float Bowls

The most important step you can take to protect your carburetor during storage periods is to drain the fuel. Draining the carburetor removes water and contaminants that can build up in the carbs over time and cause clogs or damage. We recommend completing this process every time you plan to store your bike for more than two weeks:

  1. Locate the float bowl on the side of the carburetor. 
  2. Attach a hose to the nipple at the bottom of the bowl. 
  3. Hold a clean container at the end of the hose. 
  4. Loosen the drain screw and allow the old fuel to flow into the container. 
  5. Inspect the fuel for signs of rust or contamination. 

If you can’t easily drain the float bowls using this method, you can drain the carburetor with these steps instead:

  1. Turn on the engine. 
  2. Close the petcock. 
  3. Allow the engine to run dry. 

This process will protect the carburetor from fouling due to exposure to the separated oil. However, you should still drain the float bowls completely at least once per year to eliminate contaminants. 

Adding a Fuel Stabilizer

If your motorcycle uses a carburetor to supply fuel to the engine, you risk rust finding its way into the carburetor and corroding it. The best way to prevent this is to refill the tank with high-quality fuel and a fuel stabilizer after draining it. 

You can purchase fuel stabilizers in small bottles at most auto parts stores. Some stabilizers protect fuel for a few weeks, while others last for upwards of two years. We recommend choosing a high-quality option that provides reliable protection during winter storage. 

You should add a fuel stabilizer to as much brand-new fuel as you can. As a result, you may want to ride over to the gas station, pour the stabilizer into your tank, then fill it up with gasoline. 

Once you add the fuel stabilizer, you should run your engine for at least a few minutes to let it settle into the fuel system. 

Using a stabilizer can prevent the heavy elements in your fuel from wreaking havoc on your carburetor. However, you may still want to drain the fuel in the spring before you take your first ride. 

Coating the Tank

If you’d rather not keep your tank full of oil through the winter, and you will have easy access to your bike while it’s in storage, you can coat your tank with oil instead.

  1. Purchase a motor oil that’s 50-weight or higher. 
  2. Turn off the petcock. 
  3. Pour a small amount of oil into your empty fuel tank. 
  4. Jiggle the tank to coat the interior with oil. 
  5. Turn on the petcock. 
  6. Drain the extra oil. 
  7. Turn off the petcock. 

We recommend repeating this process every few weeks while your bike is in storage. Before you take your first ride in the spring, drain the oil once more, then fill your tank with gasoline.  

Winterizing your Fuel Injector

If your motorcycle uses a fuel injection system instead of a carburetor, you won’t have to worry about draining the float bowls or cleaning the carburetor. So in this sense, fuel-injected bikes require a little less maintenance. 

However, you will still need to take measures to prevent the fuel from separating and oxidizing within your fuel tank. As with a carburetor motorcycle, adding a fuel stabilizer to your gas tank is the most effective way to prevent fuel separation. 

Performing Maintenance on a Fuel-Injected Bike 

If you’ve never performed maintenance on your fuel-injector motorcycle before, you may have a little bit of a learning curve. Carburetor motorcycles run on mechanical systems that are easier for amateur riders to tinker with. As a result, most riders can perform maintenance on these older bikes with little practice.

However, fuel injector bikes utilize more complex injection systems that many amateurs do not feel comfortable handling. If you don’t have much experience winterizing a fuel injector bike, there’s no shame in taking it to a mechanic to complete the process for you. 

Preparing the Fuel System for Storage

In carburetor bikes, draining the float bowls is an effective way to rid the fuel system of stale fuel and prepare it for a winter in storage. However, draining the fuel system isn’t an option in modern fuel-injected motorcycles. Instead, you’ll need to rely on a fuel stabilizer to protect your fuel tank throughout the winter. 

Choose a high-quality fuel stabilizer from a reputable brand that protects your fuel for at least one year. Then, follow the instructions on the bottle to add it to your fuel tank. 

Now that you know these essential steps for motorcycle carburetors and fuel injectors winterization, you can feel confident that your bike will be ready for a winter in your garage. Wondering about how to prepare your tires for that long winter’s rest? Have no fear, we’ve got you covered. Up next: Winterizing motorcycle tires.

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