Properly storing a car or vehicle protects your investment and keeps it in top condition for years to come. Utilizing a storage facility keeps you car out of the elements and away from other clumsy drivers. However, proper storage isn't as simple as putting it in park and locking it up. We have a few recommendations that will vary based on how long you plan to keep your vehicle in storage.
Short-term Storage Up to 3 Months
- Fill up your gas tank to prevent moisture condensation. This is especially important for locations with high humidity or heavy rains and snows.
- Inflate tires a few PSI over the recommendation to account for slight air loss.
- Install a new oil filter and change the oil. Depending on the age of the oil, it may slowly turn acidic and take its toll on the inside. Look into any oils that help protect against oxidizing and rusting as the oil won't be circulating during storage.
- Find an appropriate indoor car cover. Beware of any waterproof car covers. They can trap moisture and ruin the paint job. Do a thorough check of the storage facility for any obvious leaks or water stains.
- Never leave the parking brake engaged for an extended period of time. A set of wheel chocks is all you need.
- If possible, start the engine and warm it in idle every 2-4 weeks. You'll also want to drive short distances to keep up transmission lubrication. Shift through all gears, and also run the defroster for a few minutes to care for the compressor seals.
Storage Up to 1 Year
- Take the time to completely clean the car. You'll want to remove any leftover road salt, mud, or other contaminants. Use gentle water pressure for the undercarriage, and make sure that there are no lingering soaps or detergents to avoid long-term damage.
- Clean the interior and use an appropriate conditioner or protector. You'll want to make sure the interior is dried out before storage, and it's a good idea to crack the windows slightly to avoid smells from forming.
- Flush old brake fluid and consider silicone brake fluid for older models.
- Transmission fluid with over 32,000 miles or a couples years of use needs to be replaced.
- Avoid any coolants containing minerals or use an additive to prevent corrosion if necessary.
- Depending on your model and battery type, it's probably a good idea to disconnect the battery to avoid self-discharge. Consult your owner's manual for information about disconnection protocol. You can also consider installing a new battery which doesn't self-discharge or require recharging during the storage period.
- Apply a coat of wax to the exterior, chrome, and stainless steel. Use a silicone spray to coat the doors, hood, and trunk
- Lubricate hinges, latches, cable levers and linkages with an appropriate grease spray. Make sure to remove any traces of grease from rubber parts.
- For gas engines—Drain the tank and run until the fuel is nearly gone. Add white gas (around a gallon) and run the engine for circulation. If draining is not possible, top off the tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Again, circulate the treated gas.
- For diesel engines—Fill the tank and add fuel biocide. Circulate by running the engine.
- It's suggested to place rodent poison under the hood, mothballs in the interior and trunk, and plug the exhaust pipe and engine intake duct.
- If possible, set the vehicle on jack stands to give the tires a rest. You also have the option of rolling the vehicle a bit every few months to avoid flat spots if jack stands are undesired.
Storage Over 1 Year
- Take out the spark plugs and leave a bit of motor oil in every cylinder. Distribute the oil on the cylinder walls by cranking the engine over. You may optionally spray fogging oil into the air intake until an engine stall occurs.
- Completely remove the battery
- Use any moisture absorption solutions in the interior to avoid mildew and mold.
- Seal the differential as well as the transmission vent tube.
- Coat any metal parts of the chassis with spray lithium grease.
- Install a pedal jack to apply pressure to the brake pedal. You'll prevent moisture in the wheel cylinders. Make sure the brake shoes are away from the drum.
- Put in brake calipers and use any appropriate rust-prevention solution on the brake rotors and drums.
- For such a long period, it's vital to use jacks. Set the jack stands such that the springs are left uncompressed.
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