What needs to be done before you put your car into storage? There are a number of important steps that should be taken so that your car stays in great condition while it’s not being driven, particularly if it will be off the road for a long time. Besides maintenance procedures, there are also some financial considerations — for example, you may be entitled to a refund of your prepaid insurance if you won’t be driving your car. Read on to find out more about these details and more.

Reasons for Storing a Car:

You’re travelling abroad for an extended period of time.

You don’t want to drive your car during the winter thus exposing it to road salts and drivers who wait too long to apply their brakes.

You couldn’t pass up a deal on a car but you don’t need it yet (for a kid who will start driving soon, etc.).

You ride your bicycle nearly everywhere and only need your car when leaving the city.

Maybe your classic car has broken down. You want to keep the car but you don’t want to invest the time/money into it right now. If you store the car, maybe one day you’ll have the money/ambition to complete the project.

You’re going to college and don’t feel like putting your car through the hellish parking situation on campus. The first time I brought my car to campus, it got promptly ran into.

Problems if You Don’t Prepare Your Car for Storage:

It goes to heck. Seriously, the worst thing you can do for a car is not drive it. When I was younger, I just parked a few cars instead of properly storing them. Each Spring when I woke them up, there were issues. One time, an A/C compressor had seized. Once, the brake master cylinder had seized. Power windows have stopped working, mice in the car, etc. Seriously, I know putting your car in storage seems a tad daunting but it’s worth it.

Before Storing the Car: Insurance and Registration

I use GEICO as my insurance company. With GEICO I always pay a year in advance to get the discount. When I told them I would be storing the car, they happily agreed to refund my prepaid amount. I halted the insurance the day I put the car in storage. I seriously love GEICO. Note: They also offer a storage plan but I passed since the car would be stored in a brand new building.

My state (Nebraska) would not refund any registration fees. I just planned ahead to be sure my rego would expire about the same time I put the car went into storage. Also, you’re supposed to turn in your plates to the DMV. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the same plates back when you put the car back on the road. However, in Nebraska where I live, no one does this. Better call your local authorities to see if you really need to.

Step-by-Step Guide for Car Storage

Step 1: Give your car a good wash and wax. Take your time. Make sure there is not any build up of dirt anywhere on the car because it will cause rust. You also don’t want the dead bugs, tree sap etc. having time to eat at your paint over a long period of time.

Step 2: Fill up your gas tank all the way. This will help keep your tank from oxidizing and rusting.

Step 3: Add a fuel stabilizer such as STA-BIL. Put the right amount into your tank, and then run the car for 5 minutes so the stabilizer gets into every nook and cranny of your fuel system.  Not only does this save your fuel but it also gives your entire fuel system a thorough cleaning. Gas breaks down after 60 days. And it’s 30 days old by the time it gets to your fuel station. Even if only storing the car for a month, I would still do this step.

Step 4: Change your oil and oil filter. Used oil gets broken down and can cause… you guessed it… rust in your engine.

Step 5: Top off all your fluids. If you have your car in storage over the winter months, make sure your anti-freeze is filled properly and you have the right mix so your radiator, hoses, etc. don’t freeze, crack, and make a huge mess for you to clean up.

Step 6: Take out your spark plugs and spray some fogging oil down your cylinders. This will keep them from rusting. When you put your plugs back in after you do this, put some anti-seize on them so they will be easier to take back out.

Step 7: Unplug your battery or put your battery on an automatic battery float charger. This way, you won’t ruin your perfectly good battery by letting your car’s electronics slowly drain it while they are on standby. It also makes start-up much easier. I use a cheap float charger. You leave it connected to the battery and it tops off the battery as it slowly drains. If you don’t keep your battery charge, its life will decrease significantly. It’s worth paying a few extra bucks in electricity rather than having to buy a new battery.

Step 8: Spray WD-40 on any exposed metal such as your brake rotors. This will keep them from rusting.

Step 9: Don’t set your emergency brake. It can cause your brake pads to stick to the rotors. Instead, block the tires.

Step 10 (optional): Put a tarp or vinyl sheet down over your garage floor. Once again, rust prevention is why you need to do this. If you don’t, the moisture coming up from the floor will be stuck between the floor and the car and cause rust.

Step 11: If your tarp does not cover your wheel base, then put pieces of cardboard and put them under your wheels. This will keep the lime in your cement from eating at the rubber.

Step 12: Over inflate your tires by 10 psi. This will keep them from ‘squaring’. You don’t need to worry about this step unless your car will be in storage over 3 months.

Step 13: Put some more Damp Rid in the interior. This will help prevent mold and a musty smell. You can also put in a nice air freshener if you like.

Step 14: Plug your tailpipe(s) with steel wool, or cover the pipes with a thick rubber or plastic so mice don’t crawl in and make nests.

Step 15: Put pieces of plastic or paper in between your wiper blades and your glass. This will keep your blades from sticking to the glass and leaving marks.

Step 16: Clean out the interior of the car. Don’t leave any trash or clothing or anything. This stuff traps smells.

Step 17: Roll down the windows a couple of inches to allow new air to enter. This helps keep mold from growing.

Step 18 (optional): Get a good quality indoor car cover. Put it over the car to protect the paint.

Step 19: Put mouse bait around the car just in case you have a mice problem. I prefer this over moth balls because moth balls smell so bad.

Epilogue: And there you have it, how to properly store your car. If you prefer, you can also put your car up on jack stands. This will prevent you from having to over inflate your tires but if you do this, you must make sure and place the stands under your four corners of suspension. This way, your suspension will still have the weight of the car on them. If not, they will be stressed during storage and could have serious effects when it comes to safety of your car when you get it back on the road.

If you get lazy (understandable) and only do one thing to store a car, it would be to treat the fuel. Do not skip this step!

Now you can travel, go to college, do whatever you want to do, knowing that when you come back to it, she’ll be ready to run.