Storing Your Car? Here's Some Tips!

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Posted on November 7, 2014

Although Big Box Storge doesn't offer car or vehicle storage at our San Diego storage facility, we do know a thing or two about storage! If you're looking for car storage, here's some things you may want to to consider.

There are several reasons why a person might need to store a vehicle.  Perhaps you’re going on a long trip and do not wish to leave your vehicle unattended in your driveway while you’re away.  Perhaps you have a classic car that you’ve been working on for most of your life, and simply do not trust that it won’t be stolen out from under you when you’re not looking.  Or perhaps you’re like Jay Leno and just have too many cars!

No matter what your circumstances, if you have a vehicle that will be sitting idle gathering dust, it should be stored properly.  This will obviously help prevent damage to the exterior, and can also preserve the mechanics of the vehicle as well.  Protecting your vehicle from the elements when it’s not in use for long periods of time will prolong the life of the vehicle.

When choosing a vehicle storage facility, it’s very important to consider the following:

Location

Having your vehicle stored in close proximity with easy access will give you the peace of mind knowing your vehicle is safe and close by

Security

Your insurance provider will require adequate security measures be in place to prevent theft or damage.  Choose a facility that offers 24 hour monitoring and video surveillance.

Rodent Control

While it’s probably not reasonable to expect 100 percent rodent control, look for a facility that has measures in place to deter the rodent population.

Amenities

Is the facility well lit?  Is it heated?  Is there a cleanup area available?  Is there garbage disposal handy?  All of these amenities are important to both the vehicle and to your peace of mind.  You may choose to work on your vehicle at the storage location rather than taking it out of storage. You wouldn’t want to work in a location without such amenities.

Preparation for Storage

Once you’ve chosen the storage location and insured the vehicle adequately for storage, it’s wise to prepare your vehicle for a long term stay in a storage facility.  These preparations will help keep the vehicle in good working order so that when you do take it out of storage, you’ll have less to do to get it on the road and running like a dream.

Start by giving the vehicle an oil change.  Choose a premium oil without any additives that could cause erosion while the vehicle is idle.

Ensure the tank is full of good quality gas.  Again, choose a premium gas that doesn’t contain ethanol or other detergents.  If you fill the tank with poor quality gas, condensation will occur which will damage the engine over a long period of time.  Adding a gas stabilizer is also a good idea to aid in preventing condensation and corrosion.

Ensure the vehicle has fresh new anti-freeze.  You can’t predict how the weather will be during the storage period, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Lastly, ensure the vehicle is thoroughly cleaned inside and out.  Pay particular attention to the interior of the vehicle to ensure it is free of any food scraps or spilled drinks which could attract insects and rodents.

For short term storage, fill the tires to the proper pressure.  This will help the vehicle to be stored on an even support system.  If the tires aren’t inflated properly, air could escape over time, which means when you do bring the vehicle out of storage, you could potentially cause damage by driving it without properly inflated tires.  For long term storage, it’s best to place the car on jacks.

Tips

Along with proper preparation for storing your vehicle, there are many things you can do to ensure your vehicle is kept in the best possible shape during long periods of storage:

  1. Park the vehicle on a large sheet of polyurethane.  This will enable you to immediately spot any fluid leaks when checking on the vehicle.
  2. Put rags into the air intake and exhaust pipe to prevent rodents from nesting.
  3. Purchase a battery maintainer that will intermittently charge the battery so it doesn’t drain completely during storage.
  4. Place saran wrap under the wiper blades to prevent them from sticking.  Alternately, you can remove the wiper blades and store them in the vehicle.  Never store the vehicle with the wiper arms extended – they could snap and damage the windshield.
  5. Use chock blocks instead of the emergency brake.  This will prevent stress on the brakes over long periods of time.
  6. If the storage area is prone to dust, you may also consider placing a car cover over the vehicle.  Be sure the car cover is well ventilated so that vapor can escape.
  7. Leave car windows open a tiny bit to allow circulation and evaporation of water vapors that may occur when the weather is muggy.
  8. For long term storage, exercise or ‘work’ the clutch and brakes every month or so to keep the hydraulics in good working order.

 

Precautions

All of the information above will help keep your stored vehicle safe and in good working order.  As a reminder, the following precautions are absolutely necessary to prevent damage to the vehicle:

  • Rodent Control – Ensure the facility has rodent control.  You can also place rodent repellant or bait directly around your vehicle for added security.  Be sure to check periodically to ensure rodents are not damaging your vehicle.
  • Gas Stabilizer – Gas Stabilizer will help prevent damage to the engine that can be caused by condensation in the gas tank.  It’s best to store the vehicle with a full tank of premium fuel, with stabilizer added. 
  • Wiper Arm Position – Wrap wiper blades in plastic wrap, and store in their original position, or remove entirely.  Never leave the wiper arms extended.  If the wiper arm is extended and something causes it to snap back into place, it could damage the windshield.
  • Insurance Coverage – Ensure your vehicle is properly insured for storage.  This will protect you from damages that may be out of your control that occur while the vehicle is in storage.