If you find yourself in the position of needing to store your car for a long period of time, you will want to take specific steps to protect it. Leaving it in a friend’s driveway, even with a car cover, is far from ideal. You risk not just faded paint, cracked vinyl, and sun damage, but rust, mildew, and even rodents or other pests infesting your car.
In order to ensure the vehicle is in prime condition when you need it, you want to arrange for indoor storage. A cool, dry garage or storage unit with no windows is what you seek. Once you make arrangements for such a place, you’ll need to prepare your car.
Clean & Clear
Start with the easy part. Thoroughly clear out and clean your vehicle. Wash away the dirt and grime and vacuum the interior. Don’t forget the wheels and tires, dashboard and windows. Waxing the car will add an extra layer of protection, so don’t forget that.
Next up clean the storage area. Yes, that means sweeping the floor and wiping down the walls. If it’s a garage, you may need to clean up any spilled fluids. Starting with a clean environment will help keep your car clean without covering it.
A car cover isn’t necessary with indoor storage. In fact, it can be detrimental. You don’t want to smother the vehicle. If you want to use a cover, be sure to find one made of permeable material, something that allows the air to flow around the car.
Prep the Car
Now it’s time to get the car itself ready. Start by changing out the fluids and filling the gas tank. That means all the fluids: oil, coolant, brake and clutch fluid, and even the windshield washer. You may want to consider adding a conditioner to the oil and a stabilizer to your gas, just be sure to follow directions carefully.
Before you drive your vehicle into storage, consider placing a plastic drop cloth on the floor. This would be an additional barrier against moisture and mildew, though it’s not absolutely essential.
Make sure all the tires are inflated to the maximum safe pressure. Then drive your car into the garage or storage unit.
If you feel confident, disconnect the wiring harness of the fuel-pump while the vehicle is running. This will prevent pressure from building in your fuel system.
Now it’s time to remove the battery. You can simply disconnect it and leave it in the car, but it is safer to remove it completely and connect it to a battery tender. This device will ensure the battery receives just enough charge rather than being overcharged and ruined.
Then place some steel wool in the tail-pipe and any other openings that might serve as temptation for mice or other pests.
Before you leave, make sure the parking brake is released and lock the doors. It doesn’t matter how secure your storage space is, there’s nothing wrong with adding one more deterrent to theft.
One last caution: don’t be tempted to start your car just to “keep it warm.” Unless you plan to actually drive the vehicle for at least 30 minutes, it’s much better to just leave it alone.