The colder season has officially set in, meaning it’s time to put away our summer roadsters that are adverse to the weather and difficult road conditions to come and stick to out all-wheel drive vehicles until next year’s sights of spring. It’s also the season for vacations to sunnier and warmer destinations. Whether you’re leaving your car to sit for a few weeks or a few months, it’s important to take the necessary steps and smartly stow your vehicle to best protect it from damage or thievery. Below are some steps to safely store your car so it’ll reliably start up when you return behind its wheel.
- Topping off your vehicle’s fluids, such as its coolant, antifreeze, and even getting a fresh oil change before leaving your vehicle to sit for an extended period of time, keeps your engine’s internals clean and clear for months to come. Antifreeze or coolant is important to regulate the temperature of your engine’s fluids ensuring things don’t freeze within, and protects your vehicle’s internal parts from corrosion. Leaving your engine to sit with dirty oil means allowing the grim and gunk to settle within, potentially making it difficult for your engine to turn over when you return.
- Fill your gas tank. Reedman Toll Chrysler (Langhorne, PA) explains that particularly in cooler months, a gas tank left lower than half or a quarter has the potential to allow condensation to gather within, potentially getting into your vehicle’s fuel line where it will freeze, expand, and cause damage. A fuel stabilizer can also be added to your tank to prevent corrosion to your fuel line as well as preventing your gas from separating.
- Batteries when left connected with steadily lose their charge to your vehicle’s idle electronic systems and can corrode over time. If you’re leaving your vehicle for a few months, its a smart decision to disconnect or remove its battery to both protect its charge and make thievery substantially harder. You should then store your battery in a temperature controlled area or within your home in a dry area.
- Remove the windshield wipers. The rubber of the wipers will otherwise dry out and stick to the glass if left for months at a time.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. The car’s weight will naturally cause the tires to leak air–otherwise known as “flat spotting” when cars are left standing for extended periods of time. Filling your car’s tires to the recommended maximum accounts for future pressure lost. You could also set your car up on jacks to completely negate flat spotting, but you should still always check their pressure once taking your vehicle out of storage again.
- You do not need to engage the parking brake.
Clean and Clear
- Giving your vehicle a car wash and vacuuming out its interior keeps your car protected from corrosive elements that may be adhered to its surface, and minimizes chance of pests from invading your car. A few moth balls or dryer sheets can be placed within your vehicle to deter bugs or pests from settling within. Make sure your vehicle is completely dry before putting it into storage, as any moisture could rust your exposed metal elements.
- You can also plug up your exhaust pipe with a rag to keep out dust, the elements, and pests from within your engine.
- Make sure you clean out your valuables from your vehicle as well. Any item left in sight from the windows can be a potential attractant for thieves. Don’t forget your EZ-Pass and GPS devices! Insurance, registration information, and other paperwork can either be locked within the glovebox or taken within your home until you take your car out of storage.
Shelter and Covers
- Keep your vehicle protected from the elements and from malicious individuals and store your vehicle in your garage, in a storage facility, or at a friend’s or family member’s home if you leave your car to sit. Out of sight storage keeps others from noting that your vehicle has been abandoned for a period of time, hinting that it and your home are unguarded. Where you store your vehicle should be as secure as the other entrances of your home to keep your belongings safe while you’re away.
- Whether indoors or outdoors, you should always cover your vehicle. You have choice of a weatherproof waxed cover or a breathable cover that allows moisture evaporation, depending on your climate and where you’re storing your vehicle.
- Common belief is that you should periodically start your car to allow the engine to circulate, but a properly stored vehicle shouldn’t need to be started thanks to the care these previous steps would lend to protect your mechanics, battery, and fuel lines. If you do decide to idle your vehicle, always completely remove the cover and never turn on your car in a closed garage to keep you safe from carbon monoxide.
Vacation or store your seasonal vehicle with the peace of mind knowing that it’s well taken care of while you’re away. All these steps may seem tedious, but they’ll guarantee your car is well protected and will start up reliably and run exactly like the day you stowed it away once you’re ready to drive again!