Top 5 Tips for Winter Car Storage
By Dale Renner, winner of the Cool Rides Online 2016 Ride of the Year with his Plymouth Road Runner
When storing any car, it’s important to take into account what your specific car needs. Depending on your local climate, the condition of your car, and your available options, winter car storage can take many different shapes. Here are my recommendations and what I consider best practices when it comes to getting your car winter storage ready.
Indoor vehicle storage with a dry, concrete floor is best for winter car storage. Try and stay away from any building with a dirt floor as the moisture will wreak havoc and can cause significant rust issues. If you don’t have a garage, most storage facilities have single car storage spaces that you can rent to store your car. The money spent is worth the peace of mind knowing it’s safe and out of the weather.
While the car is in winter storage, inflate to the max PSI on the sidewall to prevent flat spotting from sitting. On softer radials, retro bias and drag slicks may be a good idea to put the car up on jack stands. The low pressure and soft rubber will likely flat spot and ruin the tires. I also like to apply a good rubber protectant all over the tires to prevent cracking and dry rot. Also, do not leave your emergency brake on. Leaving the brake on for an entire winter storage season can make the e- brake become one with the brake rotor. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission — use blocks of wood behind the tires.
You have a couple of options here for battery maintenance throughout winter car storage season. You can take the battery out of the vehicle and charge periodically to keep fresh. Keep in mind that charging the battery gives off hydrogen gas so keeping the battery in the garage is best. Or, you can leave it in the car. However, you should use a good “Battery Tender” trickle charger and keep it charged through the cold winter so it has plenty of power to fire the car up come spring.
Interior and Exterior Cleaning
Wash and dry the car thoroughly before storing for winter. Clay bar the paint to get rid of all the contaminants that could cause problems from sitting and not having your regular washing and detailing. Clean and vacuum the interior making sure all the trash and any crumbs are gone so not to attract any unwanted visitors inside. Make sure windows are closed and place dryer sheets in the interior and in the trunk (most pests don’t not like the smell and will stay out). Seal off the exhaust to prevent rodents from crawling in and making a home. Spread a few mothballs around the perimeter of the car to keep them out and stop them from destroying your car’s interior or electrical system. Polish and wax the exterior and use a good quality, SOFT, breathable car cover to protect it and keep it as dust free as possible.
Don’t drain your car’s gas tank during winter storage! Instead, use a fuel stabilizer. I choose STA-BIL as it will keep gas fresh for up to 24 months. Doing this will also prevent gum, varnish, and corrosion from forming.
Following these simple tips will get you through the long storage months and ease your mind until it’s time to get back on the road!