Bringing your Scooter out of Hibernation

What to do to start your scooter after winter

If you properly winterized your scooter (see Winterizing Your scooter) starting it back up in the spring shouldn't be a big deal. If you removed the battery and kept it charged all winter you'll need to reinstall it in the scooter of course. If you drained the gas you'll need to fill the tank (with fresh gas, not stuff you've stored all winter!). If you plugged the exhaust (to keep out the mice) be sure to remove the plug before trying to start the engine. With luck after cranking the engine a few times it should start right up without a problem. If you didn't remove the battery and the cold weather hasn't killed it, you'll certainly need to fully charge it before trying to start the engine.

But what if there is a problem?

Well, the first thing you may need is battery help. If your battery is old it may have lost some capacity and even if it is fully charged it may run down before the scooter starts. It's safe to jump start using the battery in your car, but make sure you don't have the car's engine running. A car alternator can put out a lot more current then the battery and charging system of a scooter can take. Just connect the -ve terminal of the car battery to the -ve terminal of the scooter battery and the +ve terminal of the car battery to the +ve terminal of the scooter battery using heavy duty jump leads. If you don't have a car to jump from, you may have to charge up your battery several times, but jump from a car battery is much better.

Don't crank the engine for long periods at a time. Crank for a few seconds, then let things stand for a few seconds, then crank for a few seconds. The starter motor is not intended to be run continuously and if you crank continuously for a minute it may overheat and possibly damage the wiring.

If you drained the fuel and the carburettor, note that many fuel systems require a vacuum to open the fuel supply valve, so you may have to crank for a while to get fuel to flow into the carburettor and fill the bowl before it gets to the engine and the scooter can start. Alternatively you can apply a vacuum to the control port of the fuel valve to allow the carburettor bowl to fill.

If you left fuel in the tank and in the carburettor you may have two problems. The gas may be stale which will make it difficult to start. It may also have gummed up the carburettor which means you'll have to take it apart and clean it. Make sure the jet is clean.

Don't be surprised if you have to crank the engine 5, 10 or even 20 times before it bursts into life. Just take things slow and easy. Starting problems are almost certainly due to carburettor and/or fuel delivery related.

Unless you have been checking them over the winter, it's likely that your tires will have lost some air. Be sure to reinflate them to the correct pressures before riding the scooter. Also check that all you lights are working, headlights, indicator lights and brake lights. Test your brakes at slow speed before venturing out onto the road. You should not have lost any brake fluid, but it doesn't hurt to check the level. The same applies to the oil level. Make sure none has leaked out while the scooter has been in storage.

Once the scooter is started and you've made all the safety checks, take it for a 10-20 minute ride to make sure it gets fully warmed up. Just starting it up for a minute or two won't get it hot enough to drive off any moisture that's accumulated in the engine and muffler system. You want to get everything up to normal operating temperature for at least 10 minutes. If you haven't ridden for 3 or 4 months, remember to take things slow. You've probably gotten a little rusty over the winter just like your scooter!

Also be careful of the road surface as we move from winter to spring. If you live in an area where they treat the roads in winter you may find leftover salt and grit can collect in some areas (like corners!) and lower your traction. Take it easy braking and cornering if the road surface looks suspiciously loose.

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