How you store a car is just as important as where you store it. The more work you put into getting it ready for storage now, the less work you will have to put into taking it out of storage later.
Whether you’re storing a sports car for the summer or are putting your car away while on extended vacation, your preparation will make a big difference in the how your car runs when you retrieve it. Here are the steps to follow to get a car ready to put away and drive later.
- Get a Tune-up
- Get an Oil Change
- Replace Brake Fluid
- Fully Wash the Car
- Park in Your Storage Unit
- Remove the Battery
- Put the Car on Jack Stands
- Plug or Bag the Exhaust and Air Intake
- Drain/Stabilize the Gas Tank
A tune-up can be expensive, but it will save you both time and money later. If you know your filters and plugs are in good working order when you put it into storage and yet your car doesn’t start when you take it out of storage, then you’ll know that the wires or battery have degraded. Other problems can also be easily diagnosed if you know the car’s guts are tuned up.
Oil does not degrade over time, but clean oil protects your engine better than dirty oil.
Brake fluid sucks in moisture over time, which can cause rust if your brakes remain stationary for months.
The minerals and salt in dirt can cause corrosion of your car’s body, so get rid of it. It is also a good idea to wax any exposed chrome.
This is an obvious one! But to give you a proper timeline of when to do things, the above four items should be done before putting the car in storage, and the below four you’ll do after you’ve parked it.
Because car batteries are always being used and charged by the engine, they are not designed to ever have zero volts. In fact, they need charge just to manage the build-up of lead sulfate crystals on the interior plates.
If batteries are left unused for too long, the sulfate crystals coat the plates entirely, making the battery useless. This is called sulfation. To prevent sulfation, take the battery out and connect it to a battery maintenance device. You can also use this as an opportunity to fight corrosion by cleaning the battery’s contacts!
If you leave the weight of the car on the tires, it will flatten the treads. This causes little bumps while driving that are likely to become an annoyance to the driver. However, if you jack up the car without supporting the suspension, it will wreck your bump rubber and limit straps. Use spacer blocks to protect the rubber and support the axles.
This keeps both moisture and mice out of your engine.
Gasoline separates over time, rendering it useless, and biodiesel oxidizes, creating heat and corroding the gas tank. Either drain the tank entirely or add stabilizing products.
After that, your car is prepared for long-term storage! If your car will only be stationary for a few weeks you won’t have to worry about the above, but if you’ll be parking it for more than three months at a time, you should strongly consider these suggestions.