Whether you’re going on an extended business trip or simply need to put your seasonal vehicle somewhere safe over the winter, you want to ensure that your car is ready to drive when you take it out again. One of the most important aspects of successful vehicle storage is preparation.
In this blog, we list eight essential steps to get your car ready to park in your chosen automotive storage space.
- Check Your Tire Pressure
When not in regular use, tires can develop flat spots due to the constant pressure exerted by the body of the car. If you will have regular access to the car, taking it out for a 15-minute maintenance drive every two weeks can protect the tires and the battery, as we’ll discuss in section eight.
When you take maintenance drives, inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. If you plan to store your car for more than a month without the opportunity to drive the vehicle, consider removing the tires to store separately and putting your car on blocks instead.
- Consider a Cover
No matter where you park your car for long-term storage, it’s likely to collect dust and may collect other debris as well. A cover can prevent paint scratches and corrosion caused by contact with debris.
If you live in an area with high dust or pollen levels, consider investing in a fitted cover. A cover is also a smart investment for seasonal vehicles that you know you’ll need to put in storage again during the next off season.
- Deep Clean
Not only does deep cleaning your car before putting it in storage allow you to come back to a pristine vehicle, but cleaning can also safeguard against common storage-related issues, like bad odors.
Take everything out of the car that could be affected by storage conditions or could be tempting for would-be thieves. For example, chargers, aerosol cans, and emergency water storage could become a problem in extreme temperatures, but the chargers and other electronics could also make your vehicle a target.
Vacuum, thoroughly wash, and wax your car. Allow the vehicle to air out and dry completely before your storage term starts.
- Fill Up
Cars are designed to have gas in their tanks. Low fuel levels, especially if the car isn’t being driven regularly, can damage the tank seals and encourage condensation inside the tank. Top off the gas just before you place your car in storage.
Additionally, consider putting a stabilizer in the gas if you won’t be back for the car in the next 30 days. The stabilizer helps keep the gas ready for use, even when the car isn’t frequently used, for up to 12 months.
- Proactively Prevent Pests
No matter how well-maintained a storage facility is, there is a risk of pest infestation. Often, these infestations occur when someone accidentally carries rodents or insects into their unit and the pests go looking for food and shelter in nearby units.
Place scent deterrents, like peppermint oil, around your vehicle once it’s parked in the storage space. Additionally, cover any openings on the car that pests could use as access points, like the exhaust pipe. However, you may want to leave a note for yourself on the steering wheel to ensure you don’t drive out of the unit with the tailpipe blocked.
- Schedule a Tune-Up
If possible, have a mechanic assess your vehicle before you put it in storage. If you don’t have the time for a full tune-up, plan to at least check all fluid levels.
Even if your car isn’t due for an oil change just yet, you should consider changing out the motor oil if you plan to leave the vehicle in storage for three months or longer.
- Talk to Your Insurance Company
Many vehicle owners assume that they can cancel their automotive insurance or let the policy lapse while the car is in storage without any consequences. However, your insurance company may increase your rates when you reinsure the car if there’s a long gap where the vehicle wasn’t covered.
If you can, schedule a meeting with your insurance agent. Be forthcoming about why you’re putting the vehicle in storage and how long you expect to keep it there. Many companies offer affordable modified policies for vehicles that aren’t used on a regular basis.
- Tend to the Battery
Sometimes, car batteries lose their charges when in storage. Regular driving can help your battery retain its charge, so prioritize these visits if possible.
Otherwise, you should prep the battery to ensure that you don’t need jumper cables to start your car when you come back. You will either need to remove the battery entirely, disconnect the negative cable, or install a battery tender. Discuss your options with a mechanic during your tune-up.
Use these steps so you can confidently place your car in storage, knowing it’ll be ready to hit the open road when you pick it up.