If you’re not going to use your car for a week, or for a couple of months, you should know how to properly store it in order to prevent any form of damage from happening. Different parts such as the paint, tires, and engine could be damaged if they are not properly protected from the elements. This is especially true if you have to pack away your car during the winter season, since snow can be particularly damaging to automobiles. Here are eight tips to store your car in the winter:
Pick the Right Location
The first thing to consider when storing your car in the winter is location. Where you’re going to store your vehicle could prove to be just as important as how you’re going to store it. You could store it in your own garage, in the garage of your friend or your family member, or in a storage facility. Each of these places have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. You should consider where you live and how long you’ll need to store your car. Store your car in a place that’s accessible to you or to the person you’re asking to look after it.
If your home has one, your best bet will always be to store your vehicle in your very own garage. This space is available all year round. You also won’t have to pay any additional fees doing so. However, you should always remember to secure all possible entry points to your garage, including doors and windows. Animals or other people may get in if you don’t. If you don’t have your own garage, you could ask for a favor from your family and friends. Try to ask them first before considering other options, especially if you are only leaving your car for a short period of time. This will save you a lot of time and effort.
Another option to consider if you don’t have a space of your own is to store your vehicle in a storage facility. Since storage facilities are available in most urban areas, you wouldn’t encounter much trouble looking for one that suits your specific needs. There are even storage facilities that were specifically put up with storing automobiles in mind. Keep in mind that you will have to pay to keep your car in one of these places. Try looking for the facility with the best indoor storage options to get the most bang for your hard-earned buck.
Get a Deep Cleanse
Before storing your car; however, you should first get it detailed. A simple car wash won’t do in this scenario, as this merely removes the dirt on the surface of the vehicle. Getting your car detailed means getting it cleaned from the inside out. Some may think that there is no sense in getting your car cleaned if you’re just going to store it. What will happen is that there will be no dirt left behind to damage your car in the weeks or months you’re going to keep it in storage. Plus, if you follow all of these steps, it means that your car is going to look and drive as well as it did when you last used it.
You should also make sure that your car does not have water drops, salt, sand, or bird dropping, as these could permanently damage your car’s paint job. Apply a coat of wax to your vehicle too, if you can. This gives it an added layer of protection. Clean up your car’s interior as well. Vacuum or sweep up any crumbs that rodents and insects can feed on during your absence. Your car could turn into a breeding ground for these animals if you don’t clean it properly. If this happens, you’ll have to spend loads more on a cleaning service compared to what you would have spent if you simply took the time to clean.
Pump Up the Pressure
Now that you’ve prepped your car’s exterior and interior parts, let’s talk about how you should leave its tires. If you leave your car for a long time, air pressure will gradually be released, which could result in a flat tire. To account for this loss of pressure, you should inflate your tires to their maximum capacity. You can usually find this information on your tire’s side wall. If the maximum pressure is not listed there, try to look for them online or contact the tire manufacturer directly. Over inflating them could be just as damaging as under inflating them. Tires lose pressure faster in the winter, so make sure to do this step.
You may also like our guides on portable air compressors.
Check the Fluids
If you plan to store your car for over a month, you should also take a look at its fluids and power sources. If possible, try to have an oil change before leaving because the dirt and contaminants in used oil could damage your car’s engine or the other parts it may spread to. It would be alright to skip the oil change if you’re only storing your car for a week or two. However, we would recommend you do it if you’re storing your car for a month or longer. Get a new air filter if you can as well. You should also make sure that you have an appropriate balance of water and coolant in your vehicle, even if you are storing it during a colder season.
Find out more about an oil change cost here.
If you’re going to be gone for a while – say 30 days or more – it would also be advisable to fill up your gas tank to the maximum capacity. Doing so prevents extra moisture from creeping in and damaging the car’s internal parts. This also helps keep the seals from drying out. If you’re going to be gone for a few months, try to put a bit of fuel stabilizer in there as well. This helps prevent corrosion in the gas tank as well as in the fuel lines. Fuel stabilizers help prevent the buildup of ethanol as well.
Remove the Battery
Another tip if you’re leaving your car behind for many months is to remove the battery completely. If a car’s battery is not used, it may lose charge and corrode. Once you remove the car battery, keep it in a temperature-regulated area on a clean and dry surface to prevent cracking. Just make sure the car battery is protected from the freezing temperatures of the outside during winter time.
Another option would be to have someone you trust start the car around once every two weeks. Have them drive the car around for 15 minutes too, if possible. This will help keep the engine and other parts lubricated, and prevent the battery from discharging.
Get it Covered
You’ve already picked out a storage facility, filled up your tires, and checked your fluids. However, there is still one more thing to do if you want to properly store your car – that is to cover it. Invest in a good weatherproof car cover that you can use to store your vehicle outdoors in other seasons. If you love in a place that’s humid, you may want to get a breathable cover that helps to keep moisture out. This type of cover also helps keep the car’s temperature in check, preventing damage coming from extreme heat or cold.
You may also like our guide on portable garages.
Don’t Use the Handbrake
There are a couple of things to remember before putting your car under wraps. Put your car in park, but don’t pull the handbrake. “Why not,” you may ask. Having this brake mechanism clamping up to the wheels for a long time could damage them. There is also a chance of the brake pads fusing with the rotors, which would be hard to fix. If you’re not confident with only leaving your car in park, then maybe you could purchase a tire stopper or a chock to keep your car from moving while it’s stored.
Security is Important
You should also make sure that that all the car’s doors and windows are completely shut. Don’t leave any valuables in your car as well, especially if you’re leaving it in a public storage facility. Important paperwork such as the vehicle’s insurance and registration should be tucked away somewhere safe. The glove compartment would be a good place to put these documents. Put up the windshield wipers to prevent them from sticking to the glass surface. If your car has an antenna, experts recommend to remove this as well. You could also plug the exhaust pipe with a dry rag to prevent small animals from living in it.
It is debatable whether you actually need to start your car every once in a while, especially if it is properly stored. Numerous people are torn between starting cars and not having to do so. If you do want to start your car, make sure that you replace any of the parts you may have removed. Don’t turn your car on in an enclosed area. After turning on the ignition, give the car some time to warm up before starting it up. A couple of minutes usually does the trick.
If you follow most of these steps, then your car will make it through the winter. Just make sure that you’ve cleaned your car and that you’ve removed anything that can cause damage to it. Leave your car how you’d want it to look and feel once you come back.