Taking the best care of your car, truck, or SUV is easy when you are driving it regularly, but what do you do when you need to store your car for extended periods of time? Preparing your car for long term storage, because it is a seasonal vehicle or even in the event of an emergency like the current mandatory quarantine, is something car owners should be prepared for.
The following steps will help you protect your vehicle and make sure it is ready to drive when you need it.
Fill the Tank:
Filling up the tank is especially important on older vehicles with tanks that are prone to developing rust on the inside. If you plan on storing your car for more than two months adding a fuel stabilizer helps prevent the breakdown of modern gasoline. This can be avoided if you fill up with ethanol-free gasoline. For regular gasoline or diesel, you will usually need 1 ounce of stabilizer for every 3-5 gallons of gas, but check the label as some brands have a different ratio.
Change the Fluids:
If you are getting close to your service interval anyway, take the time to change your oil, coolant, and other fluids. Do a visual inspection of your belts and hoses.
Wash, Wax, and Vaccum your car. Not only should you be doing this often, but a good wash and wax will protect the paint and give you peace of mind that no tree sap, bird droppings, or other organic material are going to be eating away at your car's paint while it is put away.
Park it Inside:
If possible put your car in a garage or at least under some kind of carport to protect it from the elements. If you must park it outside buy a high-quality outdoor-rated car cover. As well as a lock and some additional clips and bungees to secure it in place.
However, not everyone has space around the home to build a secure carport to keep their unused vehicles for extended periods. That is why you may want to consider a storage unit that provides additional services for cars. It does come at an extra cost, but it is nothing compared to how much you will pay for repairs if you leave your unused vehicle in the open and at the mercy of the weather.
Never Use the Parking Brake
During a driving test, the instructor will tell you that a parking brake, also known as a hand brake, is vital to keep a vehicle motionless. It can prevent your car from rolling down a hill or moving. Whether your car is manual or automatic, you should always use your parking brake to park it. It can reduce the chances of an accident occurring, keeping you and those around you safe.
However, if you plan to store your car for a more extended period, it is advisable not to use the parking brake. If you do so, the brake pads will make contact with rotors for too long, which might lead to a fuse. This can make your vehicle’s stopping distance longer. To avoid this, it would be best to buy a tire stopper to prevent your car from moving for a more extended period.
Jack it Up:
Jack the car up to take the load off the tires to prevent flat spots. Once the car is secure on the jack stands, release the parking brake so it doesn't fuse in place. Obviously, consult your owner's manual on where the jacking points are for your vehicle.
If you are going to leave the battery in your car, consider using a battery mat which will help prevent damage to your car's battery tray from any battery acid leak. On older cars, it's recommended that you disconnect the battery, but on modern cars, a battery tender or trickle charger is the better choice to make sure that the car is ready to drive when you need it.
If you don't have space to store your own car, or just don't want to hassle with taking care of all the details, most major cities have companies like Delux Car Storage, AutoConcierge, or Dallas Auto Storehouse, can take care of your prized possession for you and have it ready for you to pick up with just a phone call.