If you’re not going to be using your car for a while, you need to be looking into long term car storage solutions.
If you leave it parked up on the street, don’t expect to be able to drive it later. You’re just leaving your car to rust with no protection from the elements.
Long term car storage keeps your vehicle in good condition. But you need to know the various things that can affect your car while it’s being stored — so that you can make sure you’re covering off all potential problems.
Here’s what to look out for — and how to prepare your car for a break from the road.
1. Keep it Covered
Covering your car is pretty crucial.
In fact, it’s essential if you want to keep it safe from moisture and light accidental damage before you put it into long term car storage.
A garage is the best place to keep your car. If you don’t have garage buildings of your own, it’s advisable to have a shelter built specifically for this purpose.
You could also rent space at a communal storage facility. But if you’re storing your car every winter, for example, this can add up to a lot of money.
As a long-term investment, building your own shelter will end up being cheaper. Though you’ll need to take good care of the shelter or garage too to keep your car protected.
2. Wash It!
It might seem weird that we’ve just told you to keep it covered, and then immediately tell you to wash it.
But you need to make sure it’s clean before you cover it up. There shouldn’t be any mud on the rims or moisture on the metalwork.
Adding a coat of wax before long term car storage can help to keep any water from settling on the bodywork too.
You might also consider setting up a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture and condensation from the garage, which is a particular threat during the colder months.
Be sure to check every so often for any leaks in your garage that might cause water to pool up near or on the car.
Get these fixed right away, as they are just the type of thing that will undermine your long term car storage strategy.
3. Fuel Up For Long Term Car Storage
“But I’m not going anywhere,” we hear you say. Yes, but you need to top up the tank before you park it up in long term car storage.
As nonsensical as it sounds, there’s a good reason for this. Fuel and water don’t mix, so keeping the tank full stops moisture – followed by rust – from creeping into it.
You might like to use a fuel stabilizer to prevent ethanol separating from the gas in the tank. This won’t happen while a car is being used regularly, but if it’s left for several months the separation can take place.
Ethanol has the potential to absorb moisture in the surrounding atmosphere, which can draw water into the tank – even if you’ve already topped it up.
4. Take The Car For an Occasional Spin
It’s important that you take your car for a trip outside every so often while it’s in long term car storage. Simply doing this is a valuable preventative maintenance technique.
This keeps all its bits and pieces in working order, and helps to highlight any maintenance problems that need to be dealt with before you take it back out of storage.
For example, even if you don’t use your car, the battery will still lose charge over time.
Batteries last for around four years, so if it’s reaching the end of its life, you may want to look into buying a new one anyway. But if it’s not, its life will be much shorter if you don’t take the car for a drive every now and again.
When you drive, this charges the battery. It also pushes the various fluids in the car around all the bits they need to be in contact with. This keeps things like brakes and the transmission box well lubricated.
5. Is It Still Insured?
If it’s not on the road, it doesn’t need to be insured. Right?
Firstly, your insurer might not be impressed by any gap in the car’s insurance coverage. They can decide to increase your premiums on this, and this alone.
This isn’t a great outcome when you’ve spent so much time preparing your car for time off the road.
You may also need to claim on your insurance while the car is in storage.
Some policies will cover you from a vermin infestation, which can be very expensive to fix. Rats and other rodents can chew through cables under the hood, for example.
Most insurers will also pay to cover the cost of repairing or replacing a car that’s damaged by fire, lightning, and other hazards.
The chance of your car being affected by these things while in storage is low, but that’s just what insurance is there for – to protect against the unexpected.
Roaring Back to Life
When you want to get your car out on the road again, you need to give your car a thorough check first.
Have any rodents moved in? Are tires, windscreen wipers in good condition, and are brakes in working order?
Top up all the fluids, give your car a final wash, and then head back out onto the road.
Don’t neglect your maintenance schedule while you’re using your car. It’s just as important when you’re out on the road as when it’s sitting in the garage!
Check out our top automobile maintenance tips for more on how to take care of your car.