Driver's Guide

How to Prepare a Car for Long Term Storage

Howdy, Driver? You must be wondering whether there is any tip regarding how to prepare a car for long term storage. Yes, there are cool tips for preparing your vehicle for long term or short term parking.

how to prepare a car for long term storage

It could be that you are about to depart for a faraway destination or the winter is getting closer. Notwithstanding the reason, properly storing the car can save tons of future expenses.

We all love to store away our rickety vehicles against winter. Yap, everybody does this while the car remains in good shape.

It even helps to decrease car mileage so that you can better gain from your car when selling. While you are traveling, it is advisable to practice the best measures for storing your car.

How to Prepare a Car for Long Term Storage

step by step to prepare a car for storage

In this section, I will teach you the measures to take before storing your car for the long term.

Below are the steps regarding how to prepare your car for long term storage:

  1. Park in a Shade

To prepare a car for long term storage, you would want to park under a shade. When you expose the car to the sun and rainfall, lots of things go wrong. With regards to the sun, the ultraviolet radiation coupled with heat will likely cause the car to melt.

The interior of your car can reach 140 degrees on a hot day of 90 degrees which is pretty dangerous. Rainfall, on the other hand, exposes your vehicle paint to pollutants that cause rust. In some cases, raindrops may find their way to the gas tank and other delicate parts of the car.

In the absence of artificially built shades, do not park under a tree. When it cracks, creaks, and falls, it lands on your vehicle. If the tree does not fall today, it may fall tomorrow. That aside, even the branch of a tree can destruct your car.

  1. Take Off the Wheels

It is advisable to take off the wheels regarding how to prepare a car for storage. It is especially cool when you are parking your car for more than 30 days which is quite long.

It may cost a bit more of your time, but the result is deserving. While you have the wheels off, inflate them properly and pack them in suitable cases. Do not abandon the wheels on the ground surface unless you are willing to purchase a new set of wheels.

  1. Replace the Oil

According to Ford, a prominent vehicle manufacturer, there are contaminants in used engine oil that can damage the engine.

You must replace the oil; it is an ethic regarding how to prepare your car for long term storage. However, if your oil is fresh in the engine and you will be departing for a week or two, it is needless.

But, if the engine oil is old and dirty, pour it out entirely and replace it with new oil. In essence, longer departures demand that you replace the oil.

  1. Fill Up the Gas Tank

The next step to prepare your car for storage is to top off the gas tank. You may think it is proper to empty the tank while arranging your car for storage. But, it is wrong not to fill up the gas tank while preparing the car for long term storage.

Since you are departing for up to 4 weeks, you do not want moisture to accumulate inside your gas tank. Furthermore, this measure will ensure that seals do not dry out while the car is in storage for the long term. For extensive preservation of your car, consider using fuel stabilizer like STA-BIL.

STA-BIL prevents fuel from deteriorating for 24 months. Thus, it protects against ethanol buildup, varnish, gum up, and rust in the internals of your car engine.

  1. Keep the Battery Powered

Before you depart, it is intelligent to map a way to keep the engine powered once in a while. When the car remains in storage for a long while, the battery will discharge, which is unhealthy.

You should task someone – a family, professional, or an agency, to power the car at least once a week. It is even better to drive around for a couple of minutes to keep the vehicle components engaged.

Alternatively, disconnect the negative battery cable, although it is not a preferable option. Do note that this will reset most of the electrical settings of your vehicle. Consider using a trickle charger if you wish to retain the settings and keep the battery from discharging while away.

  1. Wash the Car Thoroughly

“Why wash the car when I am departing already?”  It is the obvious question you are asking yourself now. In truth, it does the car more advantage to wash it as a measure to prepare the car for storage.

Beginning from the interiors, scrub off every taint. Otherwise, taints in the interiors will eventually become too sticky to erase. Wipe off the dusty surfaces and leave no space untouched.

After closing the door, begin by cleaning the undersides of the fenders and the wheels to remove mud. You may coat the car with wax for additional protection of the skin.

  1. Clean the Undercarriage

It is ethical, regarding how to prepare for storage, to clean the undercarriage properly. Lots of mud, tar, and grease get stuck in there, and you risk returning to meet a rusty undercarriage with various degrees of damages.

Preferably, you may use the mechanic hole to wipe the undercarriage. Dip a brush in petrol and brush off greasy parts of the undercarriage. You may task a mechanic with the cleaning responsibility for a more excellent result.

  1. Close All Openings

You are yet to adequately prepare your car for storage if openings are leading inside the car. If the gas cap is bad, get a replacement. Seal all openings in the cargo room and lock the cargo room properly.

If possible, temporarily seal the openings leading to the engine room. Inspect the headlights and tail lights to be sure there are no openings in any light.

All of these measures are necessary to prevent insects and rodents from finding their way into the car. You may use absorbent cotton cloth or any alternative material to seal the openings until you return.

  1. Use Chock to Brake the Car

how to prep your car for storage

To properly store your vehicle for the short term or long term, do not use the parking brake. It should be an option if you allow the tires in place.

While the brake pad remains in contact with the rotors, it may eventually fuse as a result of rust.

Upon your return, you may have to replace the rotors or pay still pay the engineer for some work.

  1. Inflate All Tires

Inflate the tires to a recommended pressure before storing the car. While the car remains in one position for a long while, it may develop flat spots, which may require tires replacement.

Advise the caretaker to keep the vehicle rolling once in a while you are away. Otherwise, you will likely spend extra cash upon returning from a journey that already costs you some money.

Properly inflating the vehicle tires is proper conduct regarding how to prepare a car for storage you should not ignore. Moreover, do not inflate the tires beyond or beneath the recommended pressure before storing the car for the long term.

  1. Place Antioxidants

After a day or two, insects and rodents will joggle their ways into the garage. With no repellent in place, these wild living things may nest around the corner and eventually begin life in your car.

You can place antioxidants such as mothballs, garlic, and camphor in the garage. Line up a couple of the repellents along the entrance and put some in the car.

Antioxidants in a car is not a long term storage measure. After some days, repellents lose their acidity and become less effective. The caretaker should replace the repellents every seven days for optimal effectiveness.

  1. Cover the Car

Whether you park the car in a garage, shade, or the open, you need a waterproof cover.

It should protect the paintwork and keep the car from insect droppings, which may affect the paintwork over time. Endeavor to use a clean and smooth waterproof cover to avoid tainting the vehicle.

  1. Contact Your Insurance Company

You feel like it is worthless to keep the insurance running. In truth, you still need insurance. However, if you would be departing for a yearlong, it is okay to cancel the insurance to save costs.

Do well to contact your insurance company and find out whether they have a plan that can adjust your insurance expenses while you are away.

Pro Tip:

The doors of the car should remain open a couple of hours once a week. You do not want your vehicle to produce a foul smell that may take months to go off when you return to use the car.

How to Start Car After a Long Time

leaving a car unused for 6 months

After your arrival, do not rush to power the engine. Do the following before starting the car after a long time:

Check the Car Battery

It is advisable to check the battery if there was no maintenance on the car while away. Nonetheless, whether you removed the car battery or not, clean the battery terminals and posts. You may use baking soda and water solution or any available alternative to clean the battery posts and terminals. Charge the battery for a while and reconnect to the car.

It is recommendable to disconnect your car before storing it because the conductive properties of copper in battery cables depreciate over time, especially if the car was parked was years.

Ensure Fluid Replacement

If the car sat for long with nobody to the rescue, drain the gas, replace the oil, and flush the fuel lines. Flush the radiator fluid and replace the combination of 50% water and 50% coolant. Endeavor to pour and replace all fluids before starting the car after a long time unless you wish to risk damage.

Check Tire pressure

Inspect the tires and adequately inflate to the recommended air pressure. Look out for flat spots and work on them. If not fixable, replace the car tires.

Set the Car for Ignition

Label the spark plugs, eject them, and lubricate the cylinders. Be careful while handling the cables. While the spark plugs are off, turn over the engine with the key to force the lubricant to dab on the walls of the cylinder for lubrication before ignition. Check for corrosion and replace corroded cables.

Finally, eject the cover of the oil filter and sprinkle the engine starter fluid on the carburetors. Get into the car and gently match the gas pedal to resuscitate fluidity in the vehicle.

Before You Exit the Garage

Do not hit the road just yet. Inspect the undercarriage for oil leaks and the transmission fluid level. Check for dry rot on the hoses and inspect the belts for cracks. Also, examine the calipers and wheel cylinders for corrosion.

how to prep a car for storage

Lube the suspension and inspect for rusted joints. Put your car on a jack a

nd let another person enter the car. Instruct him/her to fiddle with the brake pedal while you use your hand to turn each wheel. If the rotors, friction linings, and drums function correctly, the braking system is sound.

Get inside the car, confirm whether the headlights and taillights are working. Check the brightness to see if all lights are shining correctly.

Hit the Road for a While

Take the car onto the road and cruise around for about 30 minutes. Be attentive to the overall responsiveness of the vehicle. If you are unsure, you may hire a mechanic to handle the car while with you to check for any unusual performance.

Final Thought

In this article, we discovered how to prepare a car for long term storage. It is quite possible to store your car and return to find it in good condition—the outlined measures for preparing a car for storage answers your question.

You should endeavor to seal the openings in the car with an absorbent cotton cloth to keep insects and rodents further away.

When you return from the journey, do not rush to start your car after a long time. Follow the measures in this article to regain 100% functionality of the vehicle.

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli

Bernard Juchli is an experienced racer, mechanic and team owner who trusts Avon Tyres.Bernard is the lead driver and force behind his Big Dog Garage Race Team. He is the General Manager and Chief Mechanic of Jay Leno’s Garage. Bernard and his crew of seven are responsible for all repairs, restoration and fabrication of Jay’s incredible automobile and motorcycle collection.

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