How to Prep Your Car for Storage

All car enthusiasts can agree that it’s a tragic day when you have to store your vehicle for the season. Whether you’re planning to store your car for a few months, or for a few years, there are a handful of preventative maintenance steps that you should take prior to storing to prolong the life of your vehicle and all of its components. Not only will these steps allow for a successful time in storage, but it will also make it easier for you when you’re able to return to your vehicle.

From the tires to the tail pipe, we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist for all of the items you should review if you’re planning to store your vehicle for any length of time. Keep reading to check out how to prep your car for storage.

  1. Find Adequate Storage
    Depending on your geographical location and length of storage, it’s important that you find a suitable location for your vehicle to prevent unwanted wear. Ideally, a climate controlled facility is best, this keeps the car out of the elements, direct sunlight, and prevents fluctuation in temperature that could cause unwanted condensation. If a climate controlled facility is not a viable option for you, here are a few other things to take into consideration: find a solid foundation to prevent the vehicle from sinking into the ground; concrete is best, and gravel is ok too. Do not park near high traffic areas to prevent backing in to it, or having to mow around it. Keep away from low hanging trees to prevent accumulation of sap, branches or leaves. In cooler climates, keep away from rooflines to reduce snow or ice impact.
  2. Clean the Interior
    We can all agree that there is nothing quite like a freshly cleaned car. Prior to storing your vehicle for an extended period, we highly recommend taking the time to deep clean both the interior and exterior. Ideally, you want to eliminate any possibility of attracting insects or mold while in storage. Discard any trash, vacuum the seats and floorboards, where applicable apply leather or plastic conditioner to the seats, dash and door panels. The cleaner the vehicle prior to storage, the better it will be when you return.
  3. Prep the Exterior
    After you’ve prepped the interior, turn your focus to the exterior. It is vital to the longevity of your vehicle that prior to storage, you give the exterior a good scrub. While cleaning, you’re looking to remove all dirt or debris from the paint, and remove any mud that may contain moisture to minimize the risk of rust. Additionally, it is important to make sure the car is completely dry to prevent corrosion to electrical connections. Next, clean the wheels and condition the tires to prevent dry rot or cracking. As the final step to your cleaning process, wax the vehicle to protect the clear coat. Not only will this help prevent the collection of dust and debris, but it will also make for an easy first cleaning once removed from storage.
  4. Get the Grease
    As a next step, we recommend to grease the steering and suspension components. Applying grease after washing will force any remaining water out to prevent unwanted rust, and also will ensure the metal on metal locations will not seize together over time. Greasing properly will not only help condition the seals, boots and bushings, but it will also prevent any premature failing.
  5. Protect Your Tires
    There are a few different things you can do to protect your tires during storage. Ultimately your goal is to prevent unwanted flat spots and premature wear or failing of the tires. First, start by ensuring your tires are properly inflated. If your vehicle will be stored for a significant period of time, we’d recommend mounting the car on jack stands. By utilizing jack stands, this will take the weight off of the suspension, relieve pressure to free up the leaf and coil springs, and prevent flat spots on the tires. Dependent upon where you will store your vehicle, jack stands will also come in handy to keep it level, and to drain properly if it is out in the elements.
  6. Keep the Charge
    When it’s time to take your vehicle out of storage, the last thing you want to come back to is a dead or unusable battery. Consider one of two options, either remove the battery altogether and store in a cool dry place, or hook it up to a battery tender. A battery tender, or trickle charger as some call it, is a device that is attached to the battery, and plugged in to the wall delivering just enough current to prevent the battery from discharging.
  7. Check the Fluids
    Nearing the end of your checklist, one of the final and perhaps most important steps is checking the fluid levels in your vehicle. This includes the engine oil, fuel, and coolant. First, change the oil, and let the engine get up to operating temperature so the new oil will help lubricate the seals. Next, top off the fuel tank, any extra air space left in the tank could cause unwanted condensation and add water to the fuel. Fuel begins to deteriorate after 30 days, if storing for longer than a month, use the proper amount of fuel stabilizer. Finally, if storing in a cooler climate, ensure there is a proper antifreeze and water mixture to prevent the water from freezing and cracking the block, radiator or any portion of the coolant system.
  8. Seal it Up
    In efforts to keep the interior of your vehicle free of dust, debris and wildlife, it is vital that you ensure every possible opening is properly sealed or plugged where applicable. Ensure the windows are rolled up, vent windows are closed, sunroof is closed, the trunk and hood are properly secured. Unwanted materials or animals can easily enter through the cowl vent, tail pipe and air intake if not sealed or plugged properly. We suggest using a rag, steel wool, or expanding plug from your local home improvement store.

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1 Comment

  • If you want to keep the vehicle in a more ready to roll state, inflating the tires to psi helps a lot to prevent flat spotting. Just let some air out, and you’re ready to take off. I’ll take my summer cruiser out for a spin in February if the roads are dry.