Cars were built to be driven, and they generally don’t like being left alone for months at a time. But sometimes life gets in the way of even the most fulfilling automotive romance. Maybe you need to store your car long-term for the winter, or maybe you need car storage because you’re going away for work or school. No matter why you have to leave your ride behind, it’s important you take steps to make sure it stays in good working order once you return.
What to Consider When Storing Your Car for Weeks, Months, or More
There are 5 key things to keep in mind when you store your car long term, they are:
- Battery life
- Tire life
- Fuel rot
Your battery can discharge and go dead, your tires might lose pressure and become brittle, your fuel can go bad or become contaminated, moisture can cause rot or mold to grow on your upholstery and trim, or even cause rust, and critters can nest in your wiring or interior.
It’s important to store your car in a warm, dry location that is as clean and free of wildlife as possible. Storage units are ideal because they don’t have mice or squirrels or rats, they are dry and relatively stable when it comes to temperature, and they protect your car from the elements.
How to Maintain & Store a Car in Short Term Storage
There are a few things you can do if you’re going to store your car for a while.
If you’re not driving for a shorter period of time, like a month or so, then step one should be to thoroughly wash and dry your vehicle’s interior and exterior. A thorough clean keeps dirt and dust from bedding in to your paint, carpet, or upholstery. It stops smells, plus it stops mud and debris trapping moisture that can trigger mold or rust. You can also buy one of these recommended car covers for extra measure.
If you’re able to rent a storage unit with electrical outlets you can put the battery on a trickle charger or battery tender. This will prevent it from discharging so low it becomes permanently damaged. It’s best to buy a smart tender that allows you to leave your battery connected to your car, as disconnecting the battery can cause problems with your electronics if you make a mistake.
You should also check your tire pressures and make sure they’re inflated to the recommended level before you put your car in storage.
Preparing Your Car for Medium and Long-Term Storage
If your storage term is longer, say three months or so you’ll want to take extra steps to help prevent damage to your car. The following steps should be followed before you put your car in storage:
1. Take care of the fuel. You should fill your tank to full, and consider adding a fuel stabilizer. Both these measures prevent condensation in your fuel tank, which leads to moisture buildup forming in your fuel and damaging your engine.
2. Put your car on chassis supports or jack stands. This protects the tires from getting flat spots and suspension from sagging, which can cause them to become weak or even deformed. You should also release the parking brake to protect the brake pads.
3. Disconnect the battery. If you aren’t able to take the car out of storage for a drive every couple of weeks make sure the battery is completely disconnected.
4. Change the engine oil. If not changed frequently the oil can cause corrosion and damage the engine. You’ll also want to change the coolant and brake fluid.
Other car storage tips and hacks include adding dryer sheets to the underside of your trunk or hood, as well as in the interior. These deter bugs, rodents and other critters from making their home inside your now idle vehicle.
Covering the exhaust pipe will also prevent unwanted visitors from making your car home.
The Best Place to Store Your Car
If your car is stored in a dry, secure, and weatherproof space you can store it for as long as you need. Any size unit over 10x20ft will suit most cars, and you safely store a vehicle in any storage unit it fits in. You only need to be able to safely drive into the spot, exit the vehicle, and close the door. Look for places that are a long way from scrub or forest, and try to find storage that is temperature stable and weatherproof.
It’s easy to store any vehicle with minimal preparation, and taking just a few simple steps will make sure your baby fires right back up when you finally come home.
Ready to find car storage? Simply search on SelfStorage.com by zip code or city name to find the right storage option for you!