Whether you need to protect your classic car over the winter months, travel for a lengthy vacation or relocate for the military, car storage is the ideal solution to prolong the life of your favorite ride. Here are a few tips to consider if you plan to store a car for a year or less.
How to Perform Basic Car Storage Maintenance
Before you put your vehicle into storage, do some basic maintenance. Completely 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.
“You should also purchase a fuel stabilizer such as Sta-bil, to prevent ethanol buildup and protect the engine from gum, varnish and rust,” suggests Ronald Montoya, senior consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. “The fuel stabilizer will prevent the gas from deteriorating for up to 12 months.”
Most batteries do not store well during the winter, and all batteries discharge over time — so consider removing the vehicle’s battery to prevent acids from escaping and damaging the car. Finally, change or top off the oil, brake fluid and antifreeze before storing.
How to Protect Your Car’s Finish and Deter Pests
Wash and wax your vehicle before placing it in storage. Don’t forget door jambs and under the hood!
“Give your ride a good hand wash, polish up that chrome and apply a coat of wax to the paint,” notes Robby Degraff, car care expert and Cars.com contributor. “If you plan on steam-cleaning the carpet, do that far enough in advance to avoid moisture buildup and mold.”
Vacuum and dust the interior, and apply a conditioner to any vinyl surfaces. This will not only protect your vinyl from drying out, it can also help prevent any foul odors from developing and deter rodents and pests from taking up residence. Make sure you give the car’s exterior a final wipe down once it reaches its storage location to eliminate any traces of dust, debris, or salt. We recommend also using a car cover to further protect the car’s exterior finish while in storage.
How to Determine Storage Location and Storage Unit Size
Remember to select a dark and dry storage location for your vehicle. If left out in the elements, you may find your precious ride damaged by rust, corrosion and sun damage — not to mention critters!
Have a convertible top? Leave it up with the windows and vents closed. A convertible top can develop creases when folded for long periods, especially in cold climates.
The last thing you want to do is select a storage unit that’s too small for your vehicle.
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). To ensure you rent a large enough space, always measure your vehicle first — and don’t forget to include additional width, like mirrors!
A few specific details to keep in mind when choosing Life Storage as your vehicle storage provider:
- 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.
How to Prevent Tires From Flatspotting
Inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended maximum air pressure before storing your car. Tires can slowly lose pressure as 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.
Once your vehicle is stored, you’ll want to prevent your tires from flatspotting. Flatspotting occurs when a tire flattens over time due to contact with the ground. If storing your 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.
“Tire flat-spotting would be most noticeable on a vehicle that has been stored incorrectly,” explains Ben Rooney, car expert and TireRack.com contributor. “If you’re storing a vehicle for more than a few weeks, it is best to drive the vehicle until it is thoroughly warmed up and immediately put it up on blocks after arriving at a storage facility. This will take the load off of the tires completely. Failing to do this on a vehicle that will be parked for a few months runs the risk of permanently flat-spotting the tires.”
If possible, start and drive the car a short distance once every couple months to help keep all the mechanical and hydraulic parts in working order.
Protect Your Car Long Term
Every car storage situation has different requirements to help keep the car in its best shape, but the tips above are a great place to start. 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.
Looking for a reliable location and peace of mind as you store your vehicle? Our self-storage options provide you with your own dedicated storage space, perimeter fencing, bright facility lighting and video surveillance. Storage customers also receive a personalized access code for the keypads that open the gates and interior buildings. The renter owns their lock, and only they have keys to unlock and access the storage unit. Find out if we offer car storage near you.
Have some of your own tips on storing a vehicle? We’d love to hear your thoughts on Twitter @LifeStorage.