Learning how to properly prepare your car for long-term storage will protect the investment you have made in your cherished ride. Whether it’s a classic that will never see the winter snow again, or a vehicle that you simply don’t plan on driving once summer is in the rearview mirror, preparation goes a long way toward ensuring that your car survives its hibernation in comfort.
Top Off Fluids, Air Up Tires
One of the most common questions about how to prepare your car for long-term storage has to do with gasoline: specifically, is it going to go “bad” in the tank from sitting there for too long? It actually takes quite a long time for the additives in gasoline to separate out, which means that you don’t need to add a product like fuel stabilizer to your tank unless you plan on storing the vehicle for six months or more. More importantly, you’ll want to make sure that your gas tank is full when you lock the garage door. A half-empty tank can lead to condensation, which over time will erode the tank and the fuel lines that are attached to it. If the car is full of gas, this won’t be an issue.
Tires will also need some care and attention. It’s crucial that your tires are fully inflated. In fact, it’s a good idea to over-inflate your tires by a few PSI if the car is going to be sitting for an extended period, as this will help prevent “flat spots” from developing on the bottoms. If you plan to store your car for a year or more, consider mounting a set of cheap used tires and storing your road tires separately to save them from the weight of the vehicle damaging them.
Keep Critters Out
When you prepare your car for long-term storage you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any hitchhikers along for the ride. This means keeping mice, rats and other vermin out of your vehicle over the course of the winter. These creatures are known to make nests in cars, chew wires and otherwise wreak havoc on your interior, so you’ll want to block every point of entry. You need to verify that all vents are closed, and that your car’s tailpipes are sealed up with steel wool (which mice can’t chew through) so that critters don’t set up shop inside your mufflers. It’s also smart to set traps in the area immediately around your car. Don’t forget to clean your car thoroughly and rid it of any crumbs or food that might have fallen to the floorboards or seats.
Cover It Up
Finally, it’s worth investing in a good car cover to store your automobile over the course of the winter. A cover prevents paw prints, dust and accidental bumps from damaging your car’s paint and finish, and it can also serve as a final barrier to keep out unwanted (animal) guests.
Following these tips will ensure your car makes it through to the next summer season in style.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on long-term car storage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Freeimages
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.