Home Forums General Starting the 2023 Driving Season: Some Points to Consider…Some Old, Some New

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    • Profile photo ofSteve FessSteve-Indy
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      What follows is a slightly modified version of an annual reminder letter sent to the IN/KY VOA Members.

      “Starting the 2023 Driving Season: Some Points to Consider…Some Old, Some New”

      With the relatively mild Winter we have experienced thus far coupled with some unusually warm, sunny February days that we have seen, I am betting that we are entering the Spring Driving Season earlier than usual. As we begin to “awaken the Snakes”, there are a few points that I feel are worth considering for the well being of both you and your Viper. These observations are based on personal experiences, the many calls that I get from owners around the country (and world), experiences plus wisdom graciously shared by active, seasoned Viper Techs, and information from the club forums.

      BE SURE to activate and confirm FULL INSURANCE COVERAGE with your carrier BEFORE you even start your Viper.

      Check your tire pressures COLD and adjust them to the recommended level…which is 29 psi for ALL stock Viper tires from 1996 forward. In most cases, they will be on the low side…the exception being those of you who hyper-inflate them for storage. Expect to feel some tire “thumping” for the first couple of miles. Tire pressure sensor problems??…recheck pressures, then call me before you act further.

      PLEASE check to see that your fluid levels are adequate…and pay special attention to the clutch fluid reservoir. If this is low, you MAY have a failing clutch slave cylinder. If this happens, depressing the clutch pedal to the floor MAY NOT disengage the transmission…meaning that when the Viper starts it may move unexpectedly in the direction of the gear selector’s resting position. This has been associated with unexpected excursions into walls, garage doors, and tool boxes…just in our Region. NEVER START A VIPER WITH THE SHIFTER IN ANY GEAR…ALWAYS SELECT NEUTRAL AS YOU ENTER THE CAR !!!

      SECURE all caps after checking fluids !! NOTE: Gen V Vipers share clutch fluid with the brake fluid reservoir…thus the 2013-2017 Vipers lack both a separate clutch fluid reservoir and a clutch fluid/air bleeder.

      REMEMBER: COLD temperatures, COLD tires, and OLD tires mean LESS traction…for starting, turning, and stopping !!!.

      As you first start the Viper, watch the oil pressure to be sure it comes up promptly. DO NOT rev the engine or do aggressive acceleration until both water temp and oil temp are in normal range. For Gen I and II Vipers which were built without oil temp gauges, remember that the oil temp lags way behind water temp…so allow a good 10-15 minutes (or MORE) on cool/cold days before driving in a “spirited fashion”. The “thicker” oils such as 15W-50 take longer to reach optimal operating temperatures.

      Speaking of oil…has anyone else noted that the shelf life of Mobil 1 is 5 years versus the 4 year shelf life of the Pennzoil currently supplied by dealerships for 2013-2017 Vipers?  Last year some interpreted this question (correctly) as a not-so-subtle preference on my part for an oil other than the Pennzoil for Vipers. READ the next section CAREFULLY… as it contains a link to AN IMPORTANT POST by Viper engine designer Dick Winkles concerning choice of oils which showed up on Facebook in late Fall, 2022. For some reason, I could not copy Dick’s post, so I took a couple of screen shots that I sent to “Steve M” who was kind enough to post them on the Forum (now the Legacy Forum). In case the following link fails, the thread title is “Another engine oil thread” and is in the Gen V section of the “Legacy Forum”. SEE POST #14 !!!   Here is that link:     https://driveviperforums.com/forums/forum.php

      Watch for Check Engine Lights (CEL’s) and any other warning lights. Address these issues promptly using on-board diagnostics, an OBD II code reader and/or call for help. I carry an inexpensive OBD II code reader in every Viper. The type one wants is CAN bus capable as well as having the ability to clear codes…which in an emergency, can temporarily get a Viper out of limp mode. There are still a few OBD I and II capable code readers available in the market place that one can use on Gen I’s.

      At some point during your drive, turn on the A/C to check its performance. I like to do this on every drive (be it hot or cold outside) just to keep seals/O-rings lubricated. If your A/C is low on charge, you may need a formal diagnosis and service. Some of us have been known to add a little R-134a as a “test”…including the fluorescent dye to aid the technician in locating a possible leak. Schrader valves on the high and low pressure ports as well as O-rings are the most common causes of leaks. Admittedly, I do try to go without A/C in Gen I and II Vipers because the fans turn on as A/C is activated…which puts an electrical load on the fan wiring harness which are known to fail over time.

      Another tip on the HVAC system SPECIFICALLY for Gen I and II Vipers: keep the blue/red temp dial on RED the full year around so as the heater core is not isolated from the coolant flow which carries anti-corrosives. Hopefully, this will extend the life of the heater core…which are known to leak on Vipers found in hot climates where heat is seldom selected (i.e. the water valve to the heater core remaining closed most/all of the time). The selection of RED WILL NOT inhibit the A/C function (if installed) as it is a separate duct system from the heater system. Trust me on this !!!    🙂

      Try to get some fresh, “Top Tier” gas into your Viper as soon as you can. Many use a bottle of Chevron’s Techron gas additive/injector cleaner at the start of the season. While not a fan of additives in general, I admit to doing this myself. If you decide to do this, follow the directions on the bottle…adding it to a full (or nearly full) tank of gas for proper mixing.

      As I get a LOT of “keys locked in trunk/car” calls, I strongly suggest carrying two sets of keys on the road. This means working key fobs as well. I do carry fresh lithium batteries for the fobs as a backup. IF you do have a misadventure in this area, please call me ASAP as I might be able to help you gain access…depending on the year and model. The same advice (CALL ME) applies to alarm issues… especially “alarm shutdown” (VTSS…Vehicle Theft Security System) of the engine that can occur on Gen I and early Gen II Vipers.

      Vipers need good, fully charged batteries to function reliably. Many of us keep them on a battery tender all year…but this is not a 100% guarantee things will go well. More than once, I have observed a “green light” on a tender, taken the car out for a drive, and had problems on the next startup…all due to an aging battery. This is much less of an issue if one uses AGM batteries instead of the standard flooded lead acid batteries commonly supplied. Once one has a shorted cell, it can be very hard to even jump a Viper and achieve a startup. When checking and/or changing a Viper battery, be sure to check the cables for signs of corrosion where they exit the connectors to the battery. Also, check to see that the point of attachment of the battery ground cable to the frame is indeed tight and secure.

      There are a few things that I carry with me in a Viper…jumper cables, a small code reader mentioned above, a one inch long bare metal paper clip, fire extinguisher, cell phone, flash light, spare fuses, duct tape, and a small lithium battery jumper pack. I am sure that others can add to this list.

      For those of you with OEM navigation and other connected services, expect that these things may not be fully functional with the disappearance of 3G cellular service at the end of 2022. There MAY be alternative solutions.

      I am sure that many of you (and I ) will think of other issues to consider…if so, share them !!   “It takes a village…”

      Happy Spring…enjoy your Viper !!!

      Steve Fess, Membership and “Special Op’s” Coordinator, VOA IN/KY Region, Inc.   317-402-9013   “YOUR Viper Owners Association working for YOU !!


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