Car Storage Tips
Choose Your Space Wisely
The first thing to consider when storing a vehicle is where to store it. Ideally, you’ll be storing in an indoor, climate-controlled facility, but we all know that’s just not practical for everyone. Second best is a garage or similar space, then a covered space, and lastly, a secured storage yard, preferably one that is paved.
Get a Cover
Regardless of where you store your vehicle, spend a few bucks, and purchase a good-quality cover to protect your investment. And this is an investment, so don’t just pick up a blue tarp from the home improvement center, as they’re not meant for covering cars or bikes, and they’re likely to scratch the paint. Instead, purchase a breathable cover, preferably one designed to fit your specific vehicle, as it will fit better, and will be less likely to blow off if you’re storing outside.
Clean and Wax
Over the normal course of use, our cars, trucks, and motorcycles are exposed to all kinds of contaminants - bird droppings, bug residue, brake dust, mud, airborne pollutants, petroleum products, and the list goes on. You don’t want any of these things sitting for months on your paint, or any other part of your vehicle. Thoroughly clean from top to bottom, paying close attention to the wheel wells and undercarriage. Then put a coat, or two, of wax on it. And don’t forget the interior - excess dirt or things like dirty sweatshirts or towels stored in the trunk or elsewhere can provide a home to moisture, your sworn enemy and the harbinger of mold, mildew, and rust.
Top Off the Tank
While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to keep your fuel tank full. Especially in cooler temperatures, a nearly empty or low fuel tank can result in excess moisture condensation. Keeping your tank full keeps the space for air and moisture to a minimum. Be sure to add some fuel stabilizer, and you’ll be good to go.
Under the Hood - Mind Your Fluids
If you’re going to be storing for more than a month or two, it’s a good idea to change your oil. Especially in an older vehicle, contaminants can build up in the oil, and you don’t need them sitting around inside your engine. While you’re at it, be sure to top off all of your fluids.
Pay close attention to your cooling system, and make sure that it’s not just water in there. In a large majority of the country, you have to be mindful of freezing temperatures, and you need antifreeze in the radiator. Same goes for your windshield washer fluid - just having water in the reservoir can lead to a cracked washer pump or hoses if it freezes. Be sure to select washer fluid that is suitable for winter.
Batteries HATE to be Discharged
Anytime you let your battery drop below half charged, you shorten its life. Ideally, you’ll take your vehicle for a drive every couple of weeks and avoid this problem. If that’s just not an option, you can connect a trickle charger to keep it topped off. If you don’t have access to power, you can remove the battery and store it outside of the vehicle where you can keep it charged, or at the very least, go ahead and disconnect the negative cable from the battery terminal. Yeah, you’ll have to reprogram a bunch of stuff, but that's better than having to buy a new battery.
Tires and Brakes
You should be keeping those tires properly inflated all of the time, but make sure that’s the case before storing for longer periods. If it’s going to be a long while, consider putting the car up on jack stands to avoid permanent flat spots. And don’t engage the parking brake - the brake pad could fuse to the rotor. Use tire chocks instead.
For many of us, our vehicles represent one of our largest investments after our homes. Take some extra time and be sure to take care of them.
When you’re ready to store your car be sure to check out one of StaxUP Storage's 24 convenient locations.