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Maybe you’re a snowbird headed south for the winter, leaving your car behind. Or perhaps it’s time to put the top up on your convertible and let it hibernate for a season or two. If you plan to put your car aside for 30 days or more, you need to know how to store a vehicle long term. We’ve compiled a list of steps you should take to get your vehicle ready to sit dormant for a while. We’ll guide you along so that your car starts when you are prepared for it.
First and foremost, your car needs to be parked in a safe place like your garage or a secure storage facility. Once you have a location to park your vehicle, you should complete the following tasks to prep your car for storage:
- Change the oil
- Ensure engine coolant is full
- Wash and wax your car
- Fill the fuel tank to full
- Properly inflate tires
- Use a sturdy car cover
We highly recommend that you follow these suggestions if you plan to park your vehicle for at least a month or more.
It’s not wise to park your car without some storage prep if you aren’t going to be driving it for extended periods. Keep reading as we put your mind at ease by providing additional tips and suggestions for the long-term storage of your vehicle.
Additional Tips For Longer-Term Storage
The initial list of tips we’ve provided is a good start for a car that will be stored for less than three months. Here is a list of additional tips to consider when storing your vehicle for a more extended period:
Add a Fuel Stabilizer to the Gas Tank
A fuel stabilizer will stop the oxidation of the gas and keep it fresh. Without a stabilizer, the fuel can congeal and later clog your fuel lines.
Disconnect the Battery
You can either disconnect the battery or remove it altogether. A battery that sits idle will eventually lose its juice. Another alternative is to use a device called a trickle charger. The device connects to your battery and sends a small current to keep it charged.
Disengage the Parking Brake
When the parking brake is engaged, it connects with your car’s rotors. If the connection is left too long, the two parts can weld or stick together. Use a tire stopper to prevent movement.
Remove the Wheels and Put the Car on Four Jack Stands
To prevent flat spots, we suggest that you use four jack stands and keep the wheels off the ground. When the tires are lifted in the air, they won’t bear unnecessary weight. You can remove the wheels and store them or use the jack stands and leave them in place.
Cover or Block the Exhaust Pipe to Keep Critters Out
A car in a cozy storage space like a garage is the ideal home for mice and rats. And unfortunately, these critters like to feast on wires, hoses, and belts. They can cause some severe damage and leave behind a mess. Stuff a rag or aluminum foil in the exhaust and air intake.
Remove the Wiper Blades
The rubber on windshield wiper blades degrades over time and can become brittle. Left exposed to any elements, the wipers will start to deteriorate even faster and can stick to the windshield. You can also opt to cover the wipers with a material like plastic.
Keep Paying Your Auto Insurance
When your car is parked and securely stored, you might think it doesn’t need to be insured. But, it’s a mistake to forgo insurance. You could get penalized for a gap in coverage, or your car might incur damage while stored. It’s best to check with your insurance company and determine plan options available for the time your car is off the road.
We encourage you to follow as many tips as you can so that you don’t get home to a car with a dead battery, flat tires, or a damaged engine.
How Long Can You Keep A Car In Storage?
In theory, you can store your car for as long as you would like. But, the longer your car is immobile, the more likely that you’ll be in for some maintenance to get it back on the road.
As long as you have prepared your car to be car tucked away, it should be fine to store it as long as you need to. Remember to inspect the tires and under the hood when you take it out of storage.
To alleviate storage concerns, you might consider finding a reliable friend who’s willing to start the car and take it for a spin regularly.
What To Put Under The Tires During Long Term Storage?
If you are planning to leave your car for longer than three months, you should consider taking the wheels off and elevating the vehicle on jack stands.
You can also put wood, rubber mats, or carpet under your tires. Inflate the tires to 50 psi. The extra air will help prevent flat spots.
If you find your vehicle has a flat tire when you pull it out of storage, use caution before you drive. Check out our post on Can You Drive on a Flat Tire? for additional tips.
Is It Bad For A Car To Sit For A Long Time Without Being Driven?
It’s not necessarily bad for a car to sit a long time without being driven. What’s terrible is what can happen to a vehicle that sits and hasn’t been prepped for it.
If you’re not planning to drive your car for a couple of weeks, it will be fine. But if you are storing your vehicle seasonally or heading out for an extended vacation, it’s essential to get your vehicle ready for its downtime.
It will be a “bad” situation when you go to start your car after a few months if you haven’t taken the right steps to get your car ready for storage.
Where Can You Store Your Car?
Leaving your car unsecured on the street or even in your driveway for a long time is not the safest bet. If you don’t have a garage, you might want to think about renting space from a storage facility.
There are numerous options for paid storage facilities nationwide. Many of these companies offer indoor and outdoor storage, as well as covered vehicle storage.
We don’t recommend that you leave your car exposed to the elements or in the wide-open as an easy target for vandalism. But, if you do need to leave your vehicle outside, even at a storage facility, make sure to secure it with a heavy-duty cover that fits like a glove.
How Much Does It Cost to Store a Car?
Storing your car can cost anywhere from $45 per month to $450 per month. The cost of tucking your vehicle away at a facility depends on the type of storage option you choose. Adding perks like indoor storage, extra space, climate control, or security will drive up the monthly rate.
Take The Time And Prep Your Car
We’ve covered many tips on how to store a car long term in this post. If you take the time to prepare your ride for dormancy, it’ll be ready for you when the time comes to restart its engine.
Just remember to check the air in your tires, reattach the wipers if you removed them and reconnect the battery if you disconnected it.
For more tips on preparing your car for a major event, we suggest that you read our post on How to Winterize Your Car in 5 Easy Steps.