If you’re a classic car owner or work on collectible cars as a hobby, you already know how important proper vehicle storage is. Of course, there are other reasons to store your vehicle long-term as well — you may be retiring, moving away for the season, or maybe you have a student that will be away from home for the rest of the school year.
No matter what your reason for long-term car storage, it’s important to know exactly how to go about the process. Here, we will outline a few steps you should take in order to properly store your vehicle and avoid problems when you inevitably return to drive it again.
Step 1: Locate a Safe Spot for Storage
Start by finding a safe place to store your vehicle long term. In Wisconsin, you have to consider the elements such as freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and rodents if you store your vehicle outdoors. This is why it’s a good idea to keep your vehicle indoors if possible. Consider keeping your vehicle in your garage, a barn with a concrete floor, or at a professional storage facility.
Step 2: Handle Insurance Properly
It’s certainly possible to save some money by reducing your insurance coverage for the duration of your vehicle’s storage period. However, remember that if you own a classic or collectible car, the specific type of insurance you have may not allow for the removal of partial insurance. Furthermore, if you have a loan on your car, lenders typically don’t allow you to reduce coverage (specifically, you won’t be allowed to remove collision coverage).
Finally, some types of insurance should never be removed; it doesn’t matter whether you’re driving your car every day or once a year. Most notably, comprehensive coverage needs to stay in place to protect your vehicle from fire, theft, vandalism, building collapse, and other possible unexpected events. Liability coverage should also be kept current.
Step 3: Give Your Vehicle a Tune-Up
Now onto specifics — your vehicle deserves a good tune-before you put it into storage. Fortunately, the process is fairly straightforward. You’ll want to:
- Top off the gas in your tank – a full tank will prevent moisture and seals from drying out.
- Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank (STA-BIL is a good option)
- Check and fill the antifreeze and all other fluids
- Change the oil
- Switch out the air filter with a clean one
- Inflate all of the tires
- Put the car in park, but do not use the parking brake (instead, turn the wheels one way as far as possible)
- Protect from rodents by sprinkling mothballs around and in the car
- Remove the battery and connect it to a battery tender
- Clean and wax the outside of the car
- Clean and vacuum the inside of the car
- Cover your vehicle with a dust cover
Step 4: Restart Your Car the Right Way
When you return to your car to drive it again, remember to give it a once over visually. Inspect the trunk, inside, and engine bay for any signs of rodents or other pests. Also, check all fluid levels, tire pressure, and oil. You may need to change the oil again. Finally, reinstall the battery and make sure it has a charge before starting the engine and letting it idle for several minutes.