Are you leaving town for a job, an extended vacation or for studies or maybe you are in the military and are being deployed overseas? Then, you will need to put your car in storage.
Follow these steps if you do not want to return to a dead battery, a damaged engine, ruined tyres or a rat nest under your hood.
- Change The Oil
Skip this step if you are only storing the car for a week or two. However, consider getting the oil changed if you will be away for longer than 30days. Used oil contains moisture, sludge and other corrosive elements, which can harm your engine.
- Fill Up The Tank
Fill the tank up if you expect to be away for more than 30 days. This will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out. Be sure the tank is sealed properly as well.
- Clean Up & Keep It Covered
Bird dropping or water stains left on the car can damage the paint, so have the car washed thoroughly and properly cleaned if you are putting it away for months. Also clean the interiors and avoid leaving trash in the car, which will likely attract rodents.
A garage is an ideal place to store a vehicle. This will keep the car at a relatively stable temperature and protect it from the elements. If you don’t have access to a garage, consider getting a weatherproof car cover. This will help keep the car clean and dry.
- Do Not Engage The Hand Brake
Engaging the handbrake for an extended period can result in the brake pads getting stuck to the discs or drums. A smarter thing to do is to use wheel chocks, say a piece of wood or even a brick, to keep it from rolling and leave the car in gear (first gear).
- Battery Maintenance
It is better to remove the battery if you are going away for a long time. Also smear petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) on the terminals and wire ends to prevent rusting. Ensure the battery is fully charged, and then store it in a cool and dry place, well away from direct sunlight.
- Jack Up The Car
If a car is left stationary for too long time, the tyres could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tyre’s footprint. This step requires more work but it will save you from needing new sets of tyres when you return. consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. Also make sure the tyres are properly infated to help prevent cracking of the sidewalls.
- Keep Critters Out (e.g. rats)
A garage will keep your car dry and relatively warm but unfortunately, this will attract rodents. Try to cover any gaps where a mouse could enter such as exhaust pipe or an air intake. Steel wool works well for this. For a more proactive approach, lay down a few mousetraps and some rat poisons. Just make sure someone checks the garage periodically incase there are casualties so you don’t get to deal with the smell when you return.