How to prep your vehicle for long term storage
Are you leaving town for a work trip, or a much-needed vacation? Maybe you have a convertible that you love to drive in the summer, but now winter is here.
Whatever the reason is for your time away from the vehicle, you’ll need to put it in storage. A damaged engine, ruined tires and a rat’s nest under your hood can be avoided by making sure your car is kept in storage.
Here are some important steps to take before you store a vehicle. They will preserve the life of the engine and ensure that your car starts when you return to it.
Keep It Covered
A garage would be the best place to store your vehicle in. A garage’s temperature is relatively stable which will protect it from various elements. Using a public storage facility could also be a very good idea if you don’t have access to a garage at your house. Using a waterproof car cover will keep your vehicle clean and dry in the case of having to leave it outdoors.
Use an all- weather car cover if you cannot leave your car in the garage.
Clean It Up
Water stains or bird droppings left on the car can damage the paint, so taking your car for a good cleanup is a wise step when storing your vehicle. Make sure to clean the wheels and undersides of the fenders to get rid of any dirt such as mud, grease or tar. Give the car a coat of wax for extra protection.
Get the car washed and waxed before placing it in storage.
Change the Oil
This step is important if you are going to keep your car in storage for over 30 days. Used oil can do lots of damages to your car engine. Make sure to do an oil change before leaving your car in storage.
Oil change before leaving the car in storage.
Top Off the Tank
If your car is kept in storage for over 30 days, it will be a good idea to fill up your tank with petrol. Using this storage tip will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and prevent the seals from drying out.
Be sure to fill up!
Keep It Charged
When leaving your car in storage, get somebody to start the car every two weeks or take it for a 15-minute drive. This will maintain the cars battery, because an unattended battery will eventually lose its charge. Run the air conditioner as well too keep the parts in working order and the air nice and fresh.
If you are unable to get someone to start the car for you, simply disconnect the battery cable or get a battery tender. This device hooks up to your car battery on one end and plugs into a wall outlet on the other. It will give just enough electrical power to prevent the battery from discharging.
Use a battery tender to avoid having to jump-start the battery.
Don’t Use the Parking Brake
We wouldn’t recommend you use the parking brake when leaving your car in storage. The rotors might fuse if the brake pads make contact them for too long. Rather purchase a tire stopper, also called a chock, to prevent the car from moving.
Tire stoppers are recommended to be used to keep the vehicle from moving.
Prevent Flat Spots
Check your tire pressure before leaving the car in storage. The tires could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires’ footprints if a vehicle is stationary for too long. This process occurs at a faster rate in colder temperatures and in vehicles equipped with performance tires or low-profile tires.
Flat spots can become a permanent part of the tire and then will need to be replaced, so having someone drive the car for a while will bring the tires up to its normal temperature and get rid of the flat spots.
To ensure that your tires stays in good shape, should the car be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. This step can save you from having to purchase brand new tires.
Check Tires before leaving vehicle in storage to prevent having to buy brand new tires.
Keep Critters Out
A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm, but it won’t always keep the critters away. There are plenty of hiding places for critters and many things for them to chew on. Cover the gaps where a mouse could enter such as the car’s exhaust pipe. You can use Steel wool for this. Another good method would be too spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the vehicle. The smell will drive the mice away!
Another effective way to keep the mice away is to lay down mouse traps or make use of rat poison. If you don’t get someone to check the garage periodically, you might have to deal with a smell much worse than mothballs when you take the car out of storage.
Prevent having any car cables chewed on!
You might consider cancelling your auto insurance when your vehicle is in storage. There could be a slight chance that the insurance company can raise your insurance rates due to the gap in coverage, so rather contact your insurance company to see what they have available for you.
Get Back in Action
Here’s a checklist of what to do when you’re ready to bring your vehicle out of storage:
• Check under the hood for any evidence of rodents. If you covered the muffler or air intake, remove that material before you start the car.
• Check the windshield wipers to see if the rubbers are in a good condition.
• Check the tire pressure and inflate the tires to the recommended specs if need be.
• Check the brakes.
• Make sure there have been no and that they are at the recommended levels.
• Reconnect the battery cable if it was disconnected.
• Take your car for a wash to get rid of any dirt that accumulated.