How to Prep Your Vehicle for Storage

Covered car

Not everyone drives their vehicle all year long. Whether you have a sports car you want to keep safely stowed during the winter months, or if you are headed on a long vacation, follow our tips on how to prepare your car for storage and you won’t be left with any unpleasant surprises when you go to turn the key again in a few weeks or months.

Here is a list of important steps to take before storing your vehicle:

Keep It Covered
Not everyone has a garage, but you can still protect your vehicle. If you can’t find an indoor place to store it, you should consider getting a waterproof car cover to keep your car clean and dry. Even if you do store your car indoors, a car cover can be a good investment to keep off dust and debris. You can find these at most auto parts store for an affordable price.

Even if you have a garage, you will still need to guard against bugs and other small animals from getting in. Cover any gaps where a mouse could enter like the exhaust or your vehicle’s air intake. Just remember to uncover them before you try to start your car back up! Steel wool is good for this.

Clean Your Car
Minor water stains or bird droppings might not seem like a big deal now, but if you leave your car stored for a long period of time those stains could permanently damage the paint. Give your car a thorough wash and wax before putting it into storage. That includes washing out the undercarriage, fenders, and wheel wells to get rid of grease, tar, and mud.

Change the Oil
Used engine oil has acidic elements in it that could damage your engine if left in for a long period of time. Consider getting your oil changed before you put your vehicle into storage to be safe.

Top off the Tank
Fill the tank to the top to prevent condensation from accumulating and to keep the internal seals lubricated. Fuel stabilizer is a good investment, as it keeps gas fresh for longer and prevents gum, varnish, and rust from building up in your fuel system. Most fuel stabilizers will help keep your gasoline from deteriorating for up to a year.

Keep Your Car Battery Charged
Leaving your battery connected for a long period of time will cause it to lose its charge. Fully discharging a battery, especially in winter, can cause permanent damage to it. Optimally, you should have someone start your car and run it to charge the battery and keep the fluids flowing while you are away. If this isn’t an option, consider purchasing a trickle charger-also known as a battery tender. It delivers just enough of a charge to prevent your battery from discharging completely. It’s particularly important to prepare your car battery for winter storage.

Don’t Use Your Parking Brake
It could be a big mistake for you to engage your parking brake when you store your car. Your brake pads could potentially stick to the rotors, and the brake cable may also stick. Instead of using a parking break, you can place tire chocks behind the rear wheels to stop your car from moving.

Raise up Your Car to Prevent Tire Damage
If you’re going to store your car for more than 30 days, consider removing the tires and placing the vehicle on jack stands. If your vehicle sits on your tires for too long, it can cause flat spots in the tires as the weight of your vehicle presses down on the rubber. Keeping your tires properly inflated can also reduce the risk of this.

Don’t Cancel Insurance
When your vehicle is in storage you might be tempted to cancel your car insurance. This might initially save you money but there is a chance that your insurance company could also raise your rates due to the gap in coverage which could cost you more in the long run. This can vary depending on where you live and your insurance provider, so make sure to contact your insurance company to address your options.