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Storing a Car: How To Store a Car For Long Term

After a nice long run, are you planning to stow away your car for a while? Maybe it’s winter now, and you no longer need your convertible, or perhaps you are going on an extended vacation. 

Whatever may be the reason for storing it away, the most crucial part is to do it carefully. If you just put it away without any proper measures, you will only end up with a withered battery, ruined tires, or even worse a dead engine. And none of us want that to happen to our precious vehicle.

What you can do is take careful steps while storing it in a car storage unit. So, when you come back to your car, it is as good as new! Add these ten things to your checklist to be sure that you get everything right!

1. Cover it up

Use Car Cover

Before long-term car storage, make sure to buy a good sturdy and thick cover for your car. It should adequately cover the entire vehicle from top to bottom – make sure that no part is left unattended. If you don’t have outdoor car storage, this is an ideal plan to keep it out. And even if you do own one, these covers would shield the car from any unnecessary elements. If you keep it open, dust and dirt particles would accumulate on the car’s surface and harm the paint’s protective top-coat, which will automatically make it susceptible to scratches and other surface damages. 

The cover will ensure that your car’s body and any vulnerable part are not affected by a sudden change in temperature. The dust, too, would stay out of the way. If possible, make sure that the car storage unit is ideal with low humidity and controlled temperature. If not, you can always apply a paint-protecting wax that will keep any discoloration and fade away. 

2. Give it a good wash!

Wash the Car Properly

Keep this one thing ingrained in your mind – never put away a car without thoroughly cleaning it! An unclean car is just an excellent way of inviting rodents over to feast on all the car parts. The mounds of chips packets, fast food, or other food items will only give you a car that stinks with rotten food and insect infestation. Even just the car’s body needs to be washed appropriately to ensure that stains and dust particles are away from the paint. 

Rodents will have a party if you leave the morsels aloof. Not only would they leave their disgusting droppings but also chew and break all the critical wires. This would render your car unusable and frankly in the worst state possible. So, be sure to clean all the parts nicely and throw any lingering food away. What you also need to do is clean the outer body. Thoroughly scrub and wash the body to remove any stain from mud, tar, or grease. This will help in keeping the paint job intact and keep it good as new!

3. The fuel tank should be full

Keep the fuel tank Full

If you leave your car unattended for a long time with an empty gas tank, the water droplets from moisture can enter inside it. The humidity from the air as well as outside condenses inside the tank and turns into water vapor. This water vapor drops down inside and merges with the fuel. It contaminates the preexisting fuel inside your tank and causes severe damages in the long run. It will slow down your acceleration speed, cause engine sputtering, and impair the injecting fuel system.  

So, there’s an easy solution to it – fill up your tank with fuel! Make sure that it is complete and has no space for condensation to form. You can also purchase a fuel stabilizer like Sta-bil. These stabilizers ensure that there is no build-up of ethanol, gum, varnish, and rust. It will also make sure that the fuel remains there for over 12 months – so if you are planning to keep the car away for a year, you wouldn’t have to worry about the fuel running out or deteriorating. 

4. Make sure to fill it up with oil

Just like your fuel tank, your gas tank, too, is prone to get affected by the moisture build-up. The moisture can enter the oil tank and affect its working – oil, and water are the worst combination! Generally, with constant use, the humidity inside the tank evaporates due to the heat from engine oil. But when you have kept it away for so long, the moisture remains inside the tank and gets mixed up with the oil. It lowers the efficiency of lubrication of the moving parts and even their temperature, which can prove to be very harmful. 

Do not fill up with the oil tank with used up oil present inside it – contaminated oil is just as harmful. Make sure that you get a complete oil replacement with a new filter. The fresh oil is much more efficient in fending the contaminants away and keeping the tank safe!

5. Charge the battery up!

Keep The Battery Full Charge

Whether or not it is at work, cars tend to lose battery. It uses the battery for functionalities like a clock, anti-theft device, and radio. While you are on the move, an alternator recharges the battery regularly, so you need not worry about powering it up. But when it is static and not in use, this alternator never comes into work, and your battery slowly starts diminishing. And after a point, it runs out of the charge entirely. So, when you come back to it after a while, you will find yourself a drained and dead battery.

First, charge the battery up to its fullest whenever you go out for a long time. And if the period exceeds the time that the battery can sustain on itself, you can trust a person to regularly check up on the vehicle and take it out for a drive. Be sure to leave carefully written instructions while doing so. If not, then you can also disconnect the negative terminal. This will help slow down the draining process of the battery. But it will have a side effect – all your electronic settings like your saved radio stations and Bluetooth configuration will get lost.

Alternatively, you can also buy a Battery Maintainer. It is a specialized device that, after connection, will charge the battery up occasionally and keep the battery running. 

Must Read: How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last

6. Never use the parking brake

Many people mistake letting the car be in the parking brake while stored in the garage. It is a good practice in the short run, but it can potentially harm your vehicle beyond repair when kept away for a long while. If the brake pads are in contact with rotors for too long, it will cause a fuse and give you a dead vehicle. 

The parking brakes can even rust over time and can put you in harm when you drive the car again. It is a clever idea to take measures against it, especially if there are chances that your vehicle might come in contact with salt and water. So, instead of using parking brakes, you can use special blocks (also known as wheel chocks). Put these behind the wheels, and they will hold the car in its place. 

7. Protect the Engine Cylinders

Over time, the engines too can get rusted and lose their efficiency. To prevent this block, be sure to remove any spark plugs and cover the cylinders in oil. And then replace the plugs. This can prove to be a pretty hectic job, so that you might need help from some professionals.  

8. Prevent critters from entering the car

As we mentioned before, a static car is a home to rodents and critters. They can enter your vehicle, take residence and destroy all your valuable and essential wires. So what you can do is to block any such paths through which they can enter the vehicle, like an exhaust pipe or an air intake. First, cover it thoroughly through the steel wool and then spread cotton swabs lines in peppermint oil and mothballs around the perimeter of the car. 

For the extra measure, you can even get some rat poison or rat traps and lay them around the vicinity of the car storage unit. If they do come around the car, the traps will easily capture them. 

9. Keep the Flat Spots away!

Before going away, inflate up your tires up to the recommended level. Being kept away for too long, the tires can develop flat spots at the point of contact with the ground. This can make the connection are flat and rigid beyond repair. So, your best bet under these circumstances is to either get someone to take out your car sometimes, or you can get car jack stands. Just attach this car jack stands at all four corners, which will alleviate the vehicle and prevent any contact with the ground. This one is essential if you are going away during the cold season. 

10. Get an insurance

Ending your insurance before going into an extended vacation to save a few bucks may sound like a tempting option, but in the long run, it is only going to cost you more. You will have to get one when you come back eventually. But when the company notices a difference in the coverage period, it will increase the rates. The companies do offer various plans for such conditions, so check and subscribe to them before going. 


And this is all! If you follow all these steps to the T, your car will remain safe from all kinds of damages, and you can enjoy your vacation in peace! Just remember that at times, some tasks are better left to professionals. So, if you require, you can hire mechanics and car cleaners to clean and get your car ready for long-term storage!

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