Whether you’re going on an extended trip or you’ve simply run out of room at home, you’ve got a variety of options for storing your vehicle at a self-storage facility.
Some businesses provide outdoor parking, while others offer covered spaces or fully enclosed units that are large enough to accommodate automobiles, said storage industry consultant Bob Copper, partner in charge at Self Storage 101.
How much does it cost?
While indoor storage offers the most protection, “generally people with cars are going to utilize the least expensive space they can find — outside with no covering,” he said.
You typically can rent outdoor parking spaces for $25 to $80 a month, depending on your location, Copper said. Costlier spaces “are going to be in the urban areas — New York, Boston and Chicago — where the cost of doing business is higher,” he said.
The cost to rent a fully enclosed unit can range from $150 to $400 a month, he said. That’s for a 10×20 unit.
Storage spaces aren’t always as big as they look, so carefully measure your car before you rent a unit. Full-size vehicles typically require a depth of 20 feet. A unit that is 15 feet deep may be large enough for some compact vehicles, however. Make sure the unit is wide enough to allow you to easily drive in and out.
When left outdoors, moisture can cause rust on a parked car’s underside, exhaust, suspension and brakes. Car restoration expert Bill Jelinek, owner of Route 66 Motorsports in New Lenox, IL, recommends self-storage tenants with valuable cars rent enclosed units with climate control to avoid such problems.
If you choose an outdoor parking space, be sure to cover the vehicle to protect it from the elements as much as possible, said Diane Gibson, president of Cox Armored Mini Storage Management, which manages self-storage facilities in Arizona.
Even if your car is stored indoors, a cover will keep the dust off. It also will provide an added layer of protection from accidental dings and scratches.
S.T. Billingsley, owner of Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire in Woodbridge, VA, recommends adding a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank of a stored car to prevent varnish and corrosion from building up in fuel lines. A stabilizer can prevent this for up to a year.
Billingsley also recommends placing a moisture-absorbing product, such as DampRid, inside your car to prevent a buildup of mildew and odor.
Safe and sound
Stored cars are vulnerable to invasions by rodents, so ask the storage facility staff about measures that have been taken to control pests. Ryan Kartzke, e-commerce manager at car accessories website AutoAnything, said rodents often chew electrical wiring inside stored vehicles. One way to stop this is to place mothballs in the car; the strong odor will send the rodents scurrying.
Be sure to ask about security before renting a unit. The facility should have fences and controlled-access gates.
People who store their cars outdoors typically want assurance from facility staff that the grounds will be patrolled regularly, Copper said. “They have to know that you are out walking that area every day,” he said.
Follow the rules
Typically, self-storage facilities impose a variety of rules for storing car, such as:
- Your car must be in working order.
- You must show to proof of insurance.
- Your license plate and registration must be current.
Facility managers want to make sure you’re not using their property to hide a stolen car, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to show your personal identification, Gibson said. “The registration needs to match the driver’s license,” she said.
Some facility owners are picky about the age of cars they will allow to be stored outdoors, she said. That’s because they don’t want their parking areas to become cluttered with unsightly vehicles.
If you park your car at a self-storage facility, don’t expect to do any repair work on the property, Gibson said. Most owners dislike the clutter and oil stains that often result from on-site repairs.
“We don’t want the mess that’s sometimes involved,” she said.