Almost every car owner sooner or later finds themselves in a situation where they need to store their vehicle long-term. The reasons for this can vary from one person to another, ranging from a long-distance vacation or unwillingness to drive a car during the winter months.
Unluckily, it’s not uncommon for a car to not start immediately after an extended downtime period. The reason behind this most frequently are inappropriate conditions and a lack of proper preparation of a car for long-term storage. If you’re going to leave your vehicle for storage anytime soon, this article is for you!
Below, you will find the essential information about preparing your garage, as well as your car and its interior, for long-term storage so that you can avoid any negative consequences later on. Check it out!
Preparing the Garage
The most optimal option for long-term car storage is the garage. However, not all garages meet ideal storage conditions. For example, in insufficiently insulated garages, the temperature is far from optimal. Or questions like polyurea vs epoxy floor coating start to come up when choosing the correct flooring option. However, if the car has good corrosion protection and qualitative paint and varnish coating, it can endure even harsher conditions – for example, being stored in a tent or at an outdoor parking lot that you can find on Parkhound.
Before you can store your vehicle in a garage, you need to thoroughly sweep, wash and dry the floors, and put dry wooden boards or bricks under the wheels. Avoid hanging the car on metal structures, as the body can deform from a prolonged static load.
It is also advisable to provide good ventilation in the garage. Windows can be left ajar if you are sure that there are no rodents in the garage, as even one tiny mouse can make a big mess by eating PVC insulation or fabric.
On the other hand, it is crucial to ensure that your garage door functions properly and no stranger will get inside. If you notice any malfunctions, make sure to contact the nearest emergency garage door service.
General Rules to Follow When Prepping the Vehicle
Before long-term storage, you need to wash your car well. If there are places on the car’s body where the paint is damaged, they need to be taken care of. If possible, it is recommended to apply some wax-based preservative composition to these spots to preserve the paint and prevent corrosion.
After that, you need to unscrew the spark plugs, pour a small amount of engine oil into each cylinder with a syringe, scroll the crankshaft 3-5 times, and screw the spark plugs back in. Next, it is necessary to drain all liquids that can freeze, such as liquid from the windshield washer tank or an old antifreeze.
It is necessary to make sure that the position of the machine is stable, without distortions. At the same time, it is desirable to reduce the tire pressure to 0.5 kg/cm. You can also plug the air filter hole and the exhaust pipe with an oiled piece of cloth to prevent rust.
It is widely believed that when preparing a vehicle for long-term storage, the battery must be removed and stored in a dry and warm place. However, if there are appropriate conditions in the garage – the area is well-ventilated, dry and dark, humidity is around 50-70%, and the temperature is not lower than 5 degrees Celsius – it is okay not to remove the battery.
Nevertheless, you should also take into account the probability of battery discharge, as a connected battery will continue to consume current (e.g., to power the car alarm) – and after a certain period of time, it will discharge. So, if you plan to leave the car for storage for a very long time, it would be better to remove the battery.
There are also different opinions related to covering a vehicle with some sort of cover to protect the engine from dust. If you decide to cover it, you need to make sure that the cover is moisture permeable, as the moisture will condense on the surface of the car body, provoking rust to appear or deteriorating the paint. In order to make the right choice, you need to take into account the conditions in the garage and the overall duration of the car storage.
Taking Care of the Car Interior
When preparing a vehicle for long-term storage, most car owners pay attention to the car’s body, neglecting its interior. That is quite a big mistake, as the car interior is the space that suffers most from the absence of a driver. Without proper ventilation, mold spores quickly spread, and strange odors and stains begin to appear in a closed, damp space.
In order to avoid problems with mold, it is recommended to treat the car interior with antiseptics and deodorizing agents. You can also leave a diffuser with essential oils to prevent the appearance of a musty smell.
It is also essential to protect the plastic elements inside the car, as they can become too brittle and crack in low temperatures. Because of that, it is advisable to wipe all plastic surfaces with a cloth with silicone lubricant. Make sure the car’s floor is dried well, too, and roll up the mats and place them vertically in the trunk, as moisture can accumulate under them.
Lastly, it would be best to remove the audio system, recorder, and other electronics and take them into the house to secure such sensitive devices from moisture and cold.
Checking Up on Your Vehicle
To ensure that your car is safe and properly stored, it would be best if you checked up on it occasionally – about once every two months. When doing so, make sure to perform some simple actions – start the engine, turn the steering wheel in both directions, activate the handbrake and brake pedal several times, and thoroughly squeeze the clutch a couple of times.
As you can see, allocating enough time to thoroughly prepare your vehicle for long-term storage is essential. It allows you to minimize potential malfunctions and other negative consequences, such as mold and musty odors, which might end up appearing in your car during the downtime period.
Before storing your car, you will need to ensure that your garage has appropriate storage conditions and then take care of your car’s body as well as its interior to protect them from moisture and rodents, among other things. Other than that, remember to check up on your car periodically to ensure that it’s safe and functions normally. Good luck!