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Putting Your Car in Storage

Writer - John Linden

If you’re not going to be using your car for a long period of time, you may want to put it in storage. However, storing cars involves more than just parking them in a garage or other location and throwing car covers over them. There are several things you need to do first to make certain your car doesn’t have any problems when you go to drive it again.

  • Change the oil filter and the oil itself. You may also want to see about using an additive in the oil to make certain it doesn’t damage the car while it sits.
  • Fill the tank up with premium fuel and add stabilizer to the mixture. Made sure the gas has no ethanol in it; ethanol can corrode the tank.
  • Check the coolant levels and, if necessary, top them off.
  • Check the tire pressure. You want to air up the tires to the recommended pressure, especially if you’re storing the car during cold weather. You may even want to over inflate the tires just a bit since that helps prevent them from developing flat spots. If you’re leaving the car in storage for a long period, you may want to put it up on axle stands to keep the tires in good shape.
  • Wash the car and wax it. Make certain to get all of the mud and dirt off the wheels and anything in the interior that might smell.
  • If you’re storing the car indoors, you may want to place a sheet of plastic underneath it. This will do two things: it will prevent the buildup of water vapor in an unheated area, and it will let you easily see if the car has any fluid leaks when you take it out of storage .
  • Put a rag in the exhaust and air intake to keep small animals out of it. You may also want to leave a window cracked if you’re leaving the car indoors, but make sure it’s not down enough that a small animal could get in.
  • Remove the wiper blades to make sure they don’t stick to the windshield. If you can’t remove them, put a piece of plastic wrap underneath them.
  • Get a battery maintainer if you’re leaving your car in indoor storage. This will keep the battery charged. You can use a maintainer without removing the battery, but if you’re leaving the car in storage for a long period, you may want to store the battery outside of the vehicle.
  • If you work on cars and are comfortable doing so, you may want to remove the spark plugs and coat the cylinders with a little bit of oil. Put the spark plugs back into the cylinders afterwards. This will keep the area from rusting.
  • Release the parking brake. If you don’t, the brake pads may get stuck to the rotors.
  • Lock the doors to prevent theft.
  • Place one of the more durable car covers over the vehicle, especially if you’re leaving it outdoors.
  • Make a list of all of the steps you took so you remember what you need to do to get your car back in running condition after you remove it from storage.

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