If you are going to be away from your car for a while (i.e. to college, the military or on a long vacation), leaving it in storage for a long period of time could damage it. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep it in good operating order for however long you’re away.
We have put together a list of ten tips you can use to store your car properly and keep it in good working order for your return:
1. Change the oil — If you are going away for years, consider changing the oil with one that doesn’t contain caustic detergents.
2. Fill fuel tank with fresh fuel — Condensation in the tank is a major problem for stored vehicles. It’s suggested that you fill your tank with premium fuel that contains no alcohol so as to avoid empty spaces where water can accumulate.
3. Add a gas stabilizer — Gasoline can become “gummy” over time so it’s advisable to add a gasoline stabilizer to the tank. You can get gas stabilizers at most hardware and auto parts stores.
4. Clean the car — Wash the exterior and give the interior a good clean. Be especially obsessive about all food scraps and trash because they can attract small animals. Removing the carpets for heated indoor storage will prevent them from becoming musty.
5. Use a vapor barrier — If you’re storing the car indoors, place a sheet of vapor barrier plastic under the car (you know, on the floor) to prevent water vapor from seeping up into it.
6. Use jack stands — If you’re storing the car for a long time, considering putting it up on jack stands to avoid flat spots in the tires. Keep in mind that bias-ply tires need to be jacked up sooner than radials, and high-profile sooner than low-profile.
7. Use a battery trickle charger — A battery trickle charger are basically “smart” chargers that only turn on periodically when your car is not in use, effectively keeping your battery charged so all the car’s computers and electronic devices stay “on”.
8. Don’t put on the parking brake — The brake pads can stick to the rotors if the parking brake is left on, so avoid putting it on. Also, to prevent movement if the car isn’t up on jack stands, place chocks under the tires.
9. Spray oil in the cylinders — The knowledgeable guys at Beck Chrysler in Palatka, Florida suggest removing the spark plugs and spraying some “fogging oil” into the cylinders to prevent rusting (don’t forget to re-insert the plugs). Fogging oil is a common item used in the boating business and should be available at any marina.
10. Keep rodents out — Rodents love to make cars their homes and you definitely want to keep them out of yours. Consider placing baits around the car and have someone check the vehicle periodically. You can also scatter strong smelling dryer sheets around the interior; rodents hate the smell of fabric softener sheets.
Note: Consider placing a note to yourself on the steering wheel outlining which of the above steps you carried out. It will make your life easier.