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You never think about putting your vehicle into storage — until you have to. We’re answering the most frequently asked questions about car storage, including how to store a car the right way.

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How to store a car depends on a handful of factors. How old is the car? How long will it be in storage? What’s the climate like where you live? The answers to these and other questions will help you maintain the integrity of your vehicle when it’s not being driven.

If you need to store a vehicle for the short term, storing a car in a storage unit might be an ideal solution. To help you with this process, we’re answering your car storage questions and providing you with expert advice if you plan to store a car for a year or less.

Car Self Storage FAQs

Where should I store my car?

What do I need to store a vehicle in self storage?

Is a vehicle storage unit different than a regular storage unit?

Do I need climate control with vehicle self storage?

How much does it cost to store a car?

How safe will my vehicle be when I’m away?

Is working on a car in a storage unit allowed?

How do I prep a car for storage?

• Where should I store my car?

If you only need to store a car without driving it for a month or two during a warm season, keeping your car outside with a car cover won’t do much harm. However, if you’re looking to put a car away for three months or more, someplace indoors and away from the elements is the best option.

• What do I need to store a vehicle in self storage?

To get your vehicle a spot in one of our facilities, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • Your vehicle must be in running condition or on a trailer.
  • You must show registration and/or a title.
  • Be aware that in some states, vehicle storage is taxed at a different rate. The charges will be shown in the storage cost estimates.

• Is a vehicle storage unit different than a regular storage unit?

If you opt to store your car at Life Storage, you’ll have three different options: a parking space, covered outdoor parking, or an actual storage unit.  Parking spaces are outside and have no walls or roofs. Select locations offer covered outdoor parking, though this isn’t a guarantee. Check with a local storage facility to see if covered outdoor parking is an option. If you choose to rent an indoor self storage unit, you can use either of our typical 10′ x 15′ or 10′ x 20′ options so long as it has the appropriate garage-style door and access.

• Do I need climate control for vehicle self storage?

The majority of cars are stored in a non-climate controlled environment. Life Storage does offer climate controlled storage. However, most of these units are inaccessible by car. If you have a very expensive classic car to store, consider finding a designated showroom to keep your car in an environment with even temperature and humidity, which could cost between $500 and $1,200 a month. If that price seems too high, follow our storage steps below to maintain your car in a non-climate controlled unit.

• How much does it cost to store a car?

Storing a car is not prohibitively expensive. Assuming your car is not so big that it’s going to require one of our larger storage units, the cost of storing your vehicle will be roughly the same as a month’s worth of gas. However, prices vary by location and availability. When doing pricing research, consider that a 10′ x 20′ unit is the most commonly used unit for storing cars.

Read Also: How Much Does a Storage Unit Cost in 2018?

• How safe will my vehicle be when I’m away?

Keep in mind that you are responsible for the contents of your self storage unit, and you will need to lock it up tight to be certain that you will be the only person with access. You can rest assured, though, that Life Storage facilities are well-lit and well-maintained. We take the security of our customers’ property very seriously.

Read Also: 5 Simple Tips for Safe Self Storage

• Is working on a car in a storage unit allowed?

No, unfortunately working on a car in a storage unit is prohibited. Working on cars on site creates issues with oil and fluid spills. Lack of electricity, noise, smoke, and odors are all factors that affect other customers. Get all engine maintenance done off-site before storing your vehicle in a storage unit.

• How do I prep a car for storage?

There are a few things you should do before storing your car in a storage unit. Review our recommended steps for car storage that’s less than a year in length below.

Storing a Car in a Storage Unit in 5 Steps

How to store a car in a storage unit

1. Determine Storage Unit Size

The last thing you want to do is select a storage unit that’s too small for your vehicle. To ensure you rent a large enough space, always measure your vehicle first — and don’t forget to include additional width for the mirrors!

  • Compact cars can fit in traditional storage spaces measuring 15 feet deep or more with at least an 8 feet wide garage-style door.
  • Full-size automobiles will require a minimum depth of 20 feet (10×20, 20×25 or 20×30).

2. Perform Basic Car Storage Maintenance

Before you put your vehicle into storage, do some basic maintenance to protect your investment.

  • Fill the tank with premium high-octane gasoline to help prevent condensation. With a full tank of gas, the chances of moisture forming in the tank or lines are greatly reduced.
  • Add a fuel stabilizer to increase the longevity of the fuel in your tank for up to 12 months. Be sure to read any manufacturer specifications before adding.
  • Remove the vehicle’s battery to prevent acids from escaping and damaging the car. Most batteries do not store well during the winter, and all batteries discharge over time.
  • Change or top off the oil, brake fluid, and antifreeze before storing.

3. Protect Your Car’s Finish and Deter Pests

Many people underestimate the importance of this next step. Placing a dirty, unkempt car into storage is risky in that you could damage the car’s finish or attract unwanted critters. Take the time to do the following to your car before storage.

  • Wash and wax your vehicle. Don’t forget door jambs and under the hood.
  • Vacuum and dust the interior, and apply a conditioner to any vinyl surfaces. This will not only protect your vinyl from drying out, but it can also help prevent any foul odors from developing and deter rodents and pests from taking up residence. If you plan on steam cleaning, do so far enough in advance for the interior to completely dry.
  • Give the car’s exterior a final wipe down once it reaches its storage location. This step eliminates any final traces of dust, debris, or salt.
  • Use a car cover to further protect the car’s exterior finish while in storage.

Read Also: 5 Tips for Seasonal and Long-Term Classic Car Storage

4. Prevent Tires From Flatspotting

Tires can be the first thing to cause issues when storing a car for an extended period. Flatspotting occurs when a tire flattens over time due to contact with the ground. If storing a car for more than a month, consider resting the vehicle on blocks or jack stands.

The reason for jacking the car up is two-fold:

  • It takes the strain off suspension components, slowing the aging on bushings and shocks;
  • It allows the tires to better hold the weight of the car, preventing those flat spots.

If you don’t have access to a jack or blocks, inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended maximum air pressure before storing your car. Tires can slowly lose pressure as the temperature fluctuates and time rolls by. With that in mind, don’t exceed the maximum air pressure, which is listed on the side of the tire. Then be sure to drive the car until it is warmed up at least once every few weeks.

5. Protect Your Car for Long-Term Storage

Now that your car is safely inside a storage unit consider the following bonus tips to keep your car in tip-top shape.

  • Leave convertible tops up with the windows and vents closed. A convertible top can develop creases when folded for extended periods, especially in cold climates.
  • Remember to select a dark and dry storage location for your vehicle if possible. If left out in the elements, you may find your precious ride damaged by rust, corrosion and sun damage — not to mention critters!
  • If possible, start and drive the car a short distance once every couple months. Driving the vehicle helps keep all the mechanical and hydraulic parts in working order.
  • If you are storing a classic car or are storing for more than a year, consult with a car specialist to determine what other steps should be taken.

This post originally appeared on the Life Storage blog on 10/15/13 and was revised 4/20/18 to provide new information.

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About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann is a contributing writer covering home, moving and storage topics for the Life Storage blog.

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