Front to back, the painted surface to undercarriage storing a car requires preventative steps to each and every part. Before you begin preparing your car for long-term storage, make a checklist for yourself of everything you’ll be doing to the car. Once you’ve completed the steps and readied the car for storage leave the checklist on the driver’s seat so you’ll know what has to be done before it can go on the road again.
- Disconnect the battery. (For cars stored a year or more you’d be better off completely removing and discarding the battery and getting a new one when you take the car out of storage.)
- Have the vital fluids changed. System flushes are a good idea as well, but all fluids except the radiator should be full. (Transmission, brake, power steering, and oil)
- Lube hoses with a good, long-lasting rubber protectant. (ask your auto supply for a recommendation.)
- Drain radiator (disposing of fluid in proper receptacle) and leave hoses both top and bottom unattached. This will help prevent corrosion over extended periods of time.
- Wash and wax the vehicle taking care to remove all dirt and debris from exterior.
- Detail the interior of the car and remove all dirt and debris as well. Make sure any wet interior surfaces are dry before shutting the vehicle up for the duration of storage.
- Leaving a few opened boxes of baking soda on the floorboards will help eliminate any moisture that attempts to build up in the car during storage.
- Drain fuel tank to 1/8 of a tank and add a fuel stabilizer. Gas turns to turpentine when left for extended periods and a stabilizer prevents this as well as helps prevent condensation from building up.
AREAS OF DEBATE: TIRES, CAR COVERS AND STORAGE OPTIONS
When it comes to maintaining the integrity of your tires during long term storage, there are quite a few ideas both theory and tried and true methods that you’ll receive. Some will recommend that you elevate the car off the ground so the tires won’t develop flat spots. Yet others say this allows the shocks to become damaged over time and actually causes more damage than it prevents. Other people recommend you purchase a set of cheap tires to be replaced with your old ones once you take the car back out of storage.
The recommendation I’ll make in this laundry list of sorts is to elevate the car so there isn’t any weight on the tires, but they’re not hanging off the car either. Jack the vehicle up and place either jack stands or blocks underneath the frame of the vehicle in a level position. You can determine this by opening the doors, hood, and trunk and making sure they all open and close as they would if the vehicle was on the ground. The stands or blocks you’ve used should evenly distribute the weight of the car with two under the front and two under the back end of the vehicle. Again, the tires shouldn’t have any pressure underneath them and shouldn’t provide any undue stress to the suspension.
Car covers and storage options go hand in hand because there are quite a few available. Indoor storage options include car bags, air chambers, and the standard car cover. With car bags, the vehicle is pushed into what looks like a gigantic food storage bag that seals it from dust, moisture, and any little critters or other animals that may attempt to nest.
Air chambers are similar to that of an oxygen tent that continuously circulates and filters the air surrounding the vehicle. Though economical to run on a regular basis, the initial investment may be a shocker. Anyone who has a classic car or restored vehicle that they’ve put a considerable amount of money in probably won’t think the price is too much to pay to maintain all the hard work and investment they’ve already made.
Car covers are by far the cheapest and most widely used option. When purchasing a car cover it’s important to make sure the underside is the softest one available. Over time scratches and other paint scuffs can occur just from removing the cover. It’s best to rely on your judgment when determining exactly how you’ll cover your particular vehicle. Only you know how much time, money and elbow grease you’ve put into it; it will solely be based on your preference and budget.
The location in which you’ll store the car is as important as the cover you put on the outside. If you’re storing a car for the winter and know it will be exposed to a considerable amount of low or freezing temperatures you may consider inside storage. A garage or storage facility that has heated areas is preferable to leaving your car outdoors (covered or not) to brave cold weather.
Likewise, in hot climates, the blazing sun can dry rot interiors even if they’re not exposed to direct sunlight. In any climate, finding an indoor facility in which to store your car is the best way to go. In most cases, storage facilities are inexpensive and provide the proper temperature conditions for storing vehicles.Likewise