Three Tips for Storing a Vehicle Long Term

Posted on: 17 October 2016

Cars are made to be driven, but sometimes they have to be stored for long periods of time. Whether you're going out of the country for a while or simply can't drive the car for other reasons, there are certain precautions you must take to ensure the vehicle will start and run when you're ready to use it again. Here are three tips for putting your car in storage long term.

Clean It Up

Regardless of what time of year you drive your vehicle, your car will pick up dirt and debris that can damage the exterior and component parts if it's not cleaned off on a regular basis. Before placing your car in long-term storage, take time to clean it thoroughly, inside and out. In addition to the body, be sure to get the undercarriage, around the wheels, and the underside of the fenders. Don't forget to clean under and between the seats, wipe out cup holders, and dust the dashboard.

After cleaning the car, put a few coats of wax on the exterior to keep moisture from damaging the paint and metal. You can find cleaning cloths infused with chemicals that protect the dashboard, steering wheel, seats, and other interior components from cracking and slow the aging process. It's a good idea to use these to keep your car looking great and prevent environmental elements like heat from damaging your vehicle.

Take Care of the Fluids and Battery

One of the biggest dangers of putting a car in long-term storage is the damage the engine may suffer from not being used, and a lot of that risk comes from the fluids that sit stagnant in the system because the vehicle is not being driven on a regular basis like normal. To reduce the risk of problems, one thing you should do is fill up the gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer to the tank.

Filling the tank will minimize the risk of moisture building up in it, which may contribute to rusting. The stabilizer will prevent the gas from separating, which, in turn, ensures your engine will run fine when you start it up. Change the oil and transmission fluid, and top up fluids in other areas, such as the coolant and brakes. Change the filters as well. Drive the vehicle around for a few miles to get the new, fresh fluids circulating in the system.

The battery also presents a challenge. A car battery recharges when the vehicle is in motion. However, the vehicle will slowly lose its charge the longer it sits without being driven. This is because the battery is still being used to power the clock and other electrical systems in the vehicle even though the car is turned off.

You can have someone drive your car around every couple of weeks to help keep the battery charged and prevent issues like flat spots on the tires. An alternative is to disconnect the negative feed to the battery, and that will prevent any power from going to the electrical system. You'll have to reset your clock, radio presets, and other electronics when you're ready to drive the vehicle again, though.

A third option is to hook the battery up to a trickle charger. This device is designed to replenish the charge to the battery over long periods of time. Some can be left on for any length of time while others must only be used for a few months at most before the charger must be disconnected. Be sure to get the device that best suits your needs.

Protect It from the Elements

Once you've prepared the vehicle for storage, the best place to put the car is at a storage facility. This will protect it from environmental elements and theft. If you can't afford to store the vehicle at a facility, cover it with a heavy-duty tarp. Keep animals and pests from taking up residence in your vehicle by stuffing a rag into the tailpipe and surrounding the vehicle with moth balls.

If you're storing the car in the outdoors, be sure to use the appropriate security measures—such as a steering-wheel lock—to help deter theft.

For more tips on storing a vehicle long term or information about rates for an auto storage unit, contact a storage facility near you.