People love to baby their vehicles in all sorts of ways to keep it looking fresh on the road. Don’t forget to bring that passionate TLC into the winter when you’re storing your car for a few months. We’ve outlined a few car storage tips to ensure your car is always ready to travel no matter when you’re ready to pick it back up again. It is also important to remember that when bring the car out of storage you need to follow certain steps. Usually it takes a lot of work to put your car into long-term storage. It also takes almost as much work to take it out. To ensure your car is ready, you have to take care of it.
Choosing a Good Storage Location
When it comes to choosing a location to store your car, you have a few different options:
Indoor Car Storage
It’s entirely possible to store your vehicle in a storage unit if you don’t have a garage of your own. Drive-up units provide indoor units that are much like garages for long-term storage of vehicles. If you have a truck to store, then you’ll want to be sure the storage company provides extra-large units that will house your full vehicle.
Because the units are indoors, they’re naturally protected against the climate, making them a great choice for sports cars with mint paint or classic cars that cannot afford any damage.
Outdoor Car Storage
If the winter isn’t harsh this year or prefer to save more money on storing your vehicle, then you can choose outdoor car storage as your plan for the next few months. Many storage services that provide indoor storage options also have outdoor units that can service vehicles of all shapes and sizes.
Covered Car Storage
Covered car storage is a sort of hybrid choice between indoor and outdoor storage. You gain roof protection which prevents snow and sun damage, and it’s more affordable than a fully-indoor unit. If the weather won’t bring harsh storms, then this could work as a less expensive solution.
Change and Stabilize the Oil
If you’re planning to store your vehicle for more than three months, then it’s smart to use fuel stabilizer. That’s because the majority of the ethanol-blended fuels in your car will only last three months. As the name implies, stabilizers help keep the fuel in your tank stable and stop it from corroding the engine and the fuel lines. To use the stabilizer, add it to a near-full tank of gas.
Likewise, you should change the oil and filter in your car as well as top off other fluids before putting your car away for a few months. In the colder climates, it’s especially important to keep up with the antifreeze. After stabilizing your gas and topping off the fluids, drive around one more time to help the new fluids circulate throughout the car.
Failing to change the oil will lead to lots of problems for your vehicle. The most common side effect is generating too much heat in the engine, which makes it run less efficiently than it should. Over time, an efficient engine wears out as the components warp. Without proper lubrication between these components, the problems only worsen.
Eventually, the engine will completely break down and require replacement when you don’t change your oil. This would cost thousands of pocket.
Consider Jacks Under the Tires
Before storing your vehicle for months, be sure its tires are inflated to the correct pressure. When cars sit still for too long, the tires can develop flat spots because the vehicle’s heavy weight pushes down on tires that aren’t moving. This happens even faster when the temperature is cold out or if you’re using low-profile or performance tires.
Sometimes, all you’ll have to do is drive the car around the block a few times to return the tires to their normal shape and temperature. In worse situations, the flat spot is permanent, and you can’t use that tire to drive around anymore.
If you plan to store your car for more than 30 days, think about taking the wheels off completely and putting the car on four jack stands. Of course, this is more work, but you won’t have to replace all four tires when you come back.
Clean the Car Inside and Out
It might seem counter intuitive to wash your car right before storing it away for a few months, but it’s easy to do and you don’t want to skip this or any other car storage tips. Bird droppings and water stains that get onto the car body can eat away at the paint and ruin it. Be sure to get the tires cleaned too, or else it will have tar, grease, and mud sitting there for months. To take it a step further, throw a coat of wax on the car too.
Likewise, you’ll need to protect your vehicle from rodent damage. Storing your car in a garage at home keeps it relatively warm and dry, but these conditions also make a stored car the perfect place for rodents to make their nest. A car has plenty of nooks and crannies to hide critters, and it has just as many things these critters could chew on. Cover the air intake, exhaust pipe, and other gaps you can easily get to using steel wool. Cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil around the vehicle can help drive away rodents with the smell.
Disconnect the Battery, if You Plan on a Long Term car Storage
Before storing your car, you should either remove and store its battery or otherwise connect it to a battery tender. Make sure the tender or trickle charger has an automatic shutoff feature to prevent overcharging the battery.
If you intend to remove the battery but also use a tender, set the battery on the wood in your garage or storage unit. Don’t lose the two battery bolts, or else you’ll have a hard time reconnecting the battery in the spring. Ensuring the battery stays charged helps it last longer, and you won’t have to worry about whether it’ll be dead once you return to drive it.
If you want to remove the battery but not use a trickle charger, bring the unit inside your home and keep it warm. Frozen batteries can crack.
Use a Car Cover
Outdoor storage isn’t really feasible without a quality car cover. Be sure any car cover you buy for outdoor storage is waterproof and can secure itself to your vehicle. You can easily find universal car covers for less money, but model-specific covers are the best shape for your car’s body and are less likely to fly off in harsh winds. In any case, never use plastic to cover your car because it will easily scratch the paint.
Even if you’re going to store your car inside, it’s worth investing in a quality car cover. Here, you can opt for a more basic cover to protect the fresh wax from getting dirty and dusty. Thicker covers are better if you plan to store other items in the same unit in case something falls.
Although you can put a cover on a car yourself, it helps to have another set of hands for the job. Before you do this, though, ensure all your valuables are out of the compartments. Also make sure that the windows and doors are completely closed.
Besides a car cover, a vehicle jacket could also serve your car well for long-term storage. All you need to do is drive the car onto the jacket, and then throw a soft car cover on it before zipping up the outer jacket. Don’t skip the middle cover layer, or else that plastic jacket will ruin the car’s paint job. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your car is clean, dry, and cool before wrapping it up in the jacket.
Taking the car out of storage
Before you can start driving the car that has been stored for a while, follow these steps:
- Perform a visual inspection under the hood. Check for any signs of leaking fluid or broken hoses.
- Check that the wires are still intact and weren’t tampered with by any animals.
- Also need to check fluid levels of the coolant, brake and transmission fluid. If they’re not full enough, top them off and double check your car for any leaks.
- It is highly recommended for you to take the car out for the oil change right away. Even though you may have changed your oil before putting it into storage. The oil may have disintegrated over time and your car needs fresh and clean oil to function properly.
- The tires are another important element of your car. Check them carefully. You’ll most likely just need to fill them with air.
- If you didn’t place your car on jack stands during storage, your tires may have flat spots. Possibly some minor cracks. The flat spots will typically go away after driving for a few miles. However, in some cases, new tires may be in order.
- Check the car battery to ensure it has enough charge. If you didn’t store the battery properly, it may be completely drained. In this case a new battery may be required.
How Box-n-Go Can Help
While Box-n-Go is a storage company that specializes on storage of personal belongings, not cars, we can certainly offer some solid advice. In most cases, when people are looking to store cars, they also need to find good storage for their personal belongings as well. We are here to help. Please feel free to call us at 1-877-269-6461. Box-n-Go and our experienced advisers are ready to assist you with your storage and moving needs.