There are times when life takes us away from our cars for extended periods. Whether it’s for a vacation, work or relocating temporarily, it can be hard on a vehicle left to its own devices.
If possible park your car indoors. This protects it from the elements, bird poo and potential security threats. Also, top up all the fluids and add fuel stabilizer to minimise condensation buildup.
1. Clean It Up
Whether it’s because of the winter months, a job relocation or an extended vacation, many of us are going to be forced to put our cars into long-term storage. And while a little time away from your favorite ride is great for the soul, it’s not so good for the car itself.
For starters, dust, dirt and debris can settle on the body and trim of your car over a period of months. If you don’t clean it up before storing it, this debris can rub against your paint and clearcoat, scratching and damaging it. Also, the inside of your car can get filled with crumbs, pet hair and other messes that attract critters such as mice.
Finally, if your car is going to be sitting for a while, you should give it a thorough wash and vacuum. This will help prevent any rust from forming on the underside of the body and help to ensure that when you start it up next year, your engine is running with clean, untouched lubrication.
If you are going to be storing your car outside, you should consider covering it with a plastic jacket. This will protect it from moisture, rust and rodents. It’s important to clean your car thoroughly before putting it on the jacket, though, as acidic material from the tire rubber can stain the clearcoat. You should also consider putting your car on stands, if possible, to take pressure off the tires and suspension.
2. Give It a Coat of Wax
A coat of wax will help protect your vehicle from dust, dirt, and other unwanted particles that can cause damage to the paint job. Make sure you wash the car before applying the wax. Also, read the instructions on the product before you apply it to ensure that it is being used correctly and for maximum results.
There are a number of different types of wax available. Some are paste, others are liquid and still others come in a spray bottle. Depending on the type you choose, it will have its own benefits and drawbacks. The main thing is to find a product that will work well with your vehicle and that you can afford to buy. If possible, try to use a paste wax because it lasts longer on the car and in the can.
Some people may have to store their cars for a long period of time because they are traveling, moving to another city for work, or going away on vacation. This is where preparing your vehicle for storage can be really helpful. These simple tips can prevent damage to your vehicle while it’s in storage and may even save you money in the long run. By taking the time to properly prepare your car for storage, you’ll be able to keep it running well and looking great when you return to it.
3. Get an Oil Change
Many drivers are forced to store their cars for long periods of time. Whether it’s for work, a month-long vacation or relocation due to military duty or retirement, storing your car for an extended period can cause issues like condensation in the fuel tank, dead battery and even more severe problems such as rust and paint fade. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your car is ready for its return.
First, make sure you get an oil change before storing your vehicle. A fresh oil will protect the engine and prevent rust, especially in older vehicles. It’s also a good idea to prefill the oil filter. This will prevent the filter from becoming sopping with oil all winter long.
In addition, it’s important to add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank. The fuel will last longer and the stabilizer will prevent rust in the injectors. It’s also a good idea for owners of sports cars and classic cars to add an engine oil additive as well.
After an oil change and fuel stabilization, it’s a good idea to start the vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. This will circulate the fresh fluids and help prevent rusting in the engine and other parts of the vehicle.
4. Check the Tires
While parked for extended periods of time, your car is vulnerable to many issues, from bird poop and dust buildup to moisture and rust. It’s important to store your vehicle in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area. A garage is best, but not everyone has access to one. If you’re storing your car in the driveway, try to park it on the concrete or block rather than the grass (which will absorb moisture). It’s also a good idea to arm it against mice invasions by using steel wool and mesh to cover any hiding spots such as exhaust pipes or air intakes. Finally, make sure to remove the spare tire and store it in a safe place.
Another problem that can occur if you leave your vehicle in storage is flat tires. Sitting for a long time puts constant weight on the same part of the tires, which can lead to flat spots that will require replacing when you return to driving it again. Inflating the tires to manufacturer-recommended levels before storage can help delay and even prevent this issue. It’s also a good idea to park the vehicle on jack stands to take some pressure off the tires while it’s in storage.
You may also want to consider adding a fuel stabilizer to your tank before storage. This will help prevent gummy buildup in the fuel and keep your gasoline fresher for longer.
5. Check the Battery
In some cases, you may need to store your car for a month or two. It could be for an extended trip, a pandemic or maybe you’re moving and can’t take your vehicle with you immediately. No matter what the reason, it’s important to properly prep your car for long-term storage to prevent issues like brittle gaskets and seals, flat tires, deteriorated engine oil, thick unresponsive fuel, a dead battery or rust when you return to your vehicle.
It’s always a good idea to fully charge the battery before storing a car for an extended period of time. It’s also a good idea to fill up all fluids, including power steering, coolant, transmission fluid and brake fluid. Also, don’t forget to drain the fuel tank before storing your car for a month or so. This will prevent moisture buildup in the tank, which can ruin the gaskets and other seals in the tank.
Many auto shops offer free battery checks, so ask an associate to give yours a quick look before you leave for storage. It’s also a good idea, if you are comfortable working with your vehicle’s battery, to purchase a battery maintainer that will keep the charge level high. Keeping the charge level up will help prolong the life of the battery and avoid lead sulfate that will eventually harden the plates inside the battery.
6. Get a Cover
The best place to keep a car for long periods of time is in a garage, where it can be shielded from the elements and potential pests. However, not everyone has this luxury, and storing a car on the street for 1 month or more can lead to body damage, dead batteries, and tire problems. For more affordable options, visit modern steel buildings and browse through their offerings of carports and sheds.
If you do not have a garage, it’s a good idea to invest in a weatherproof cover that will prevent rust and protect the paint from sun’s harmful UV rays. This also helps to ensure that your car is dry, which will reduce the risk of bugs laying eggs or a rodent making a home in the vehicle. If you want to arm yourself against rodents, make sure the garage or storage space is free of anything they could eat or use for shelter — like old fast food wrappers, newspaper, and cardboard boxes. Also, try to place traps near the areas where mice can get into the vehicle, such as inside the exhaust pipe and air intake. Steel wool is also a good idea to cover any hidey-holes, and you can spread mothballs or cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil along the perimeter of the garage as well.
Finally, if you decide to take this extra step of covering your car for storage, look for a model that allows for quick and easy access. Using a cover that has a panel with a zipper will save you the time of having to remove it and put it back on every time you need to get in and out of the car.