If you aren’t able to scoot around as often as you intend, you are definitely not alone. There have been windows where I don’t ride my scooter for a few weeks courtesy of weather or family commitments involved toting kids around. I have been hesitant to not at least crank it and let it run for a bit because I hear it is bad for your scooter to just sit. This made me wonder how long exactly you can let a scooter sit and still expect it to crank up when you are ready to roll again.
At just 1 month of sitting idle, your scooter could develop problems that will prevent it from starting. Your battery may die in 2-4 months, gas could become bad after 3 months, flat spots can develop on tires in 1 month, and seals and gaskets can crack in as little as 1 month.
Each of these components are somewhat worst-case scenario guidelines, but there are steps you can take to minimize issues when you start your scooter to zip around on the next nice day.
What Happens When Your Scooter Sits Unused for Too Long?
While scooters seem simple, there are a lot of components in them that do not like to be left idle. The following components are impacted when you do not start or ride your scooter for an extended period.
The Battery Loses Power
When you let your scooter sit unused, the battery will lose its ability to power it. No big deal. Recharge it, right?
Wrong. Each time your battery is allowed to fully die, it causes a bit of permanent damage. The capacity is knocked down a bit, so full capacity post-die is less than the full capacity pre-die. Pretend pre-die is a real word for me, please.
When your scooter just sits around, there are still items on it that draw a very tiny bit of power still, and this will slowly make it lose its charge completely.
Scooter batteries will lose their battery charge around 4 months if newer and 2 months if it is a battery older than 2 years. Prevent this by starting your scooter periodically to allow the battery to charge back up.
Does Cold Weather Play Into This?
Kinda. While the cold weather doesn’t drain your battery, it does require more voltage to start your scooter to create the current required when it’s cold out. If your battery doesn’t have enough power left to give the increased voltage needed, it simply won’t start.
Cold temperatures do not drain the battery of your scooter. The colder it is, the more current and voltage is needed to get your scooter running, though, meaning your battery needs extra to compensate for the temperature.
If you have a carbureted scooter, you’re likely to have issues faster than your electronic fuel injected scooter friends. However, no matter which scooter you have, there are problems that can arise from the fuel in your tank.
First, condensation can become a problem that introduces water into your gas. Gas does not work properly when diluted. A full tank has fewer condensation concerns than a half-full tank. Cold temperatures and humidity impact this to an even greater degree. Starting and allowing the scooter to run for 15 minutes or so will help that water burn off.
Second, the gas can become just plain bad. The oxygen in the air with unused gas basically destabilizes it chemically, and it will basically gunk up in your tank and carburetor or fuel injectors.
Now if you think those first 2 events are bad, if you let it sit long enough, the moisture in the air will lead to rust. Rust = bad.
If you have an ethanol-blended gas in your scooter, then your gas is fine up to 3 months. If you have pure gas (not likely), then your gas if fine up to 6 months. If you are using a fuel stabilizer, your gas should be fine for a year or more.
Tires Can Develop Flat Spots
This was not something I was aware of, but having your tires not move at all can cause them to develop flat spots called flat-spotting. While scooter tires are not exceptionally expensive, replace the rear tire is a pain at a minimum. Flat spots that develop can be uncomfortable and downright dangerous on the road. Scooters are not heavy, so this is not an overnight problem thankfully.
If you plan to not ride your scooter, make sure the tires have the right amount of air in them. If they are under-inflated, then there is more pressure on the sidewalls, and this could exaggerate the opportunity for flat spots.
At 1 month of not being turned, tires are more prone to become disfigured. To prevent this, simply move the scooter from time to time by moving it forward and backward a bit and keep the air pressure in check.
Engines & Their Pieces Like to Be Lubricated
All of the pieces inside of your engine like a little oil coating to help them move right. Over time, the components lose this oil blanket which will make pieces start to stick and get stiff.
Additionally, gaskets and seals can become dry which can lead to cracking. Cracking means fluids have a spot to leak out from, and I hear that replacing these is a pain.
Now let’s also layer in the condensation concern. Moisture from cold temps and humidity add to the potential for condensation impacting the oil and its ability to lubricate.
With no use, gaskets can crack in as little as 1 month. To prevent this, simply let the engine idle for about 15 minutes to keep all of the components lubricated and functionally as intended.
Start Your Scooter Periodically to Prevent Issues
You may have noticed a theme here. Even if you decide to store your scooter for some period, just giving it a start and rocking it back and forth a bit will solve for a load of problems that could crop up from sitting too long. The list below has the ranges at which problems could crop up.
- Battery will lose its charge. If newer, 4 months. If older than 2 years, 2 months.
- Gas gets bad. If ethanol blend, 3 months. Pure, 6 months. Fuel stabilizer used, more than 1 year possible, but I hope you don’t go this long without riding!
- Tires develop flat spots. At 1 month this can occur, but keeping them inflated and used just a bit by rocking back and forth can buy you some time.
- Gaskets or seals can crack at 1 month.
Your mileage may vary here (pun intended), but to minimize the likelihood of any of this becoming a problem, start your scooter every 3 weeks at a minimum. I aim for once a week, though. To help remember, add a reminder on your phone or wall calendar, and you’ll never let your scooter sit neglected for too long on accident.
Other Options to Keep Your Scooter Ready to Scoot
If you know you are not going to ride much for whatever reason, you can do some things to keep your scooter cranking up without a problem for you when you’re ready.
To keep your battery from draining completely, you can use a battery tender. A battery tender senses a charge is needed, and then it tops off your battery. Here is a battery tender on Amazon, but make sure it is the appropriate size for your specific battery.
Keeping your scooter out of the elements to some degree can help keep it in top shape. Minimizing the temperature swings by storing it in a closed space can help. If you live where it is cold, limiting the salt on it will keep it happy, too.
No garage? Here is a scooter cover on Amazon to help protect yet still provide some ventilation.
Adding in a fuel stabilizer will limit damage from your fuel. Some scooterists use it year-round just in case they let it sit longer than they intend to. Check out Stabil or Seafoam here on Amazon if you need any. You can also find these at your local auto parts.