How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

Perhaps during the summer, you enjoy driving your convertible, but now that winter has arrived, you no longer do so. You can perhaps be leaving town for a job or a lengthy vacation. Possibly you are a member of the military and are on a mission abroad. You must place the car in storage, no matter why you will not be using it for a while. If you leave your car parked on the street or in a garage for an extended period of time, you risk coming back to a dead battery or, worse yet, an engine that has been damaged, tires that are destroyed, and a rat’s nest under the hood. So, the question is, how can you prep your car for long-term storage?

How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

Well, in this article, we’ll walk you through how you can prep your car for long-term storage. Nonetheless, you’ll get to know the answers to the following questions:

  • How to prep your car for long-term storage?
  • What can you do to prepare your car for storage during a deployment?
  • How do you keep your car safe while it is in storage?
  • What should you do when you are ready to resume using your car?

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Ok, let’s dive in!


How to prep your car for long-term storage?

Here are a few tips you should consider if you want to prep your car for long-term storage:

  • Clean It
  • Replace the oil
  • Keep rodents out of the car
  • Fill Up the Tank
  • Don’t apply the parking brake
  • Prevent Flat Spots
  • Maintain Charge
  • Cover It Up
  • Maintain Insurance

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Clean It

Clean It

Even though getting the car washed before storing it for months may seem odd, it is a simple procedure you shouldn’t skip. Bird droppings or water stains can harm the paint of your car. To remove dirt, grease, or tar, be sure to wipe the wheels and the undersides of the fenders. Apply a layer of wax to the car for additional protection.


Replace the oil

Replace the oil

If you only keep the car in storage for a few weeks, skip this step. If you plan to keep the car for more than 30 days, you might want to think about getting the oil changed. Ford recommended this practice in its owner’s manuals, claiming that used engine oil has impurities that could damage the engine.

Read more: Lists of Best High Mileage Motor Oil for Engines

Keep rodents out of the car

Keep rodents out of the car

Your car will stay dry and moderately warm in a garage. Sadly, a garaged car is attracted to rodents for those same two reasons. In the car, there are a lot of places for animals to hide and stuff for them to chew on. Try to seal up any openings where a mouse can sneak in, like an air intake or an exhaust pipe. For this, steel wool works wonderfully.

Next, place peppermint oil-soaked cotton swabs or mothballs around the outside of the car. It’s believed that the stench keeps mice away. Set out a couple of mousetraps and some rat poison if you want to be more proactive. Ensure that someone can frequently inspect the garage in case there are any casualties. If not, when you pull the automobile out of storage, you’ll have to put up with a smell considerably worse than mothballs.

Read more: How to Keep Rodent Out of Your Car

Fill Up the Tank

Fill Up the Tank

Another tip for long-term car storage is this. If you anticipate keeping your car in storage for longer than 30 days, fill the tank with gas. By topping it off, you can keep the seals from drying out and stop moisture from building up inside the fuel tank. Additionally, you want to get a gasoline stabilizer, like Sta-bil, to stop ethanol buildup and shield the engine against varnish, gum, and rust. For up to 12 months, the fuel stabilizer will keep the gas from degrading.

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Don’t apply the parking brake

Don't apply the parking brake

While using the parking brake is generally a good idea, it is not recommended when storing a vehicle. There is a potential that the brake pads will fuse if they come into touch with the rotors for an extended period of time. Instead, to stop the automobile from moving, buy a tire stopper, often known as a chock.

Prevent Flat Spots

Prevent Flat Spots

Verify that the proper tire pressure is present in your tires. When a car is stopped for an extended period of time, the weight of the vehicle pounds down on the footprints of the tires, potentially causing flat spots to form. In colder climates and in cars with performance tires or low-profile tires, this process happens more quickly. In some circumstances, even letting someone drive the car for a while would bring the tires up to their average operating temperature and get rid of any flat areas.

In more severe situations, a flat spot might set in permanently and require tire replacement. If you want to store your car for more than 30 days, you might want to remove the wheels and set it up on jack stands in each corner. Even though this procedure requires more labor, it can prevent you from requiring new tires. If your tires haven’t been carrying the weight of the vehicle for a month or more, they’ll be in much better form when you get back.

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Maintain Charge

Maintain Charge

Over time, a battery that is left unattended will lose its charge. Every two weeks, ask someone to start the car and, if feasible, drive it for around 15 minutes. The benefits of driving the car occasionally are numerous. It will help the car “stretch its legs,” keep the engine and other components suitably lubricated, and maintain the battery’s charge. To keep the components in good shape and the air quality clean, it is also a good idea to use the air conditioner.

There are two more possibilities if you are unable to arrange for someone to start the car. Disconnecting the negative battery cable is a simple fix. You’ll probably lose the clock, stereo presets, and other settings. Invest in a battery tender, also known as a trickle charger, if you want to maintain those settings and guarantee that your battery starts when you get back. On one end, this device plugs into a wall socket, and on the other, it connects to the battery of your car. It provides just enough energy to stop the battery from discharging.

Read more: Lists of best battery maintainers

Cover It Up

Cover It Up

The best place to store a car is in a garage. This will shield it from the weather and maintain a reasonably constant temperature. If you don’t have a garage and you can find a place to stay for a fair fee, consider storing the car there.
Additionally, consider purchasing a waterproof car cover to keep the car clean and dry if you must leave it outside.

Maintain Insurance

Maintain Insurance

When your car is in storage, you might be tempted to revoke your auto insurance. While doing so can initially result in financial savings, there is a potential that the insurance provider would increase your rates as a result of the coverage gap, which could end up costing you more in the long run. You should speak with your insurance provider to learn about your alternatives because this can change depending on where you reside and who your provider is.

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What can you do to prepare your car for storage during a deployment?

How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

To ensure that your car stays in good shape and is ready for use when you return, you must take a few essential measures before storing it during your deployment. Here are some things you should do to prepare your car for storage during a deployment:

Clean your car thoroughly

This is necessary to avoid any dirt or debris sticking to the surface of the car for an extended period of time, which may damage the paint. Clean both the inside and outside of the car, and think about applying a protectant to the interior surfaces to stop cracking and fading.

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Change the oil and filter

It’s important to change the oil and filter before storing your car if it will be in storage for a long time. This guarantees that any pollutants are taken out of the engine and that the oil is new, both of which can lessen the risk of corrosion and other engine damage.

Fill up the gas tank

Contrary to what you might think, it’s best to keep your car with a full tank of gas. In addition to keeping moisture from accumulating inside the tank, this can help keep the seals from drying up.

Remove the battery

It’s better to remove the battery if you’re storing your car for a lengthy period of time to stop it from draining and perhaps damaging the battery. Make sure to keep the batteries in a dry, cool environment.

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Inflate the tires

To stop flat spots from developing on the tires, inflate them to the proper pressure.

Cover your car

When storing your car, use a car cover to protect it from dust and other debris that may accumulate. Additionally, it can assist reduce interior automobile sun damage.

By taking these essential measures, you can help guarantee that your vehicle is kept in good condition during storage and is prepared for use when you return from deployment.

How do you keep your car safe while it is in storage?

How to Prep Your Car for Long-Term Storage

There are a number of things you can do to keep your automobile safe and in good condition if you intend to store it for an extended length of time:

Choose the right storage location

Ideally, you should keep your car in a clean, dry, and safe space, like a garage or storage facility. Do not leave it outdoors or in an area that is likely to experience flooding or extreme weather.

Clean and prepare the car

Give your car a thorough cleaning inside and out before putting it in storage. This entails cleaning and waxing the exterior, vacuuming the inside, and taking out any garbage or dirt. Additionally, you might want to replace the oil, refuel the vehicle, and fill the tires with the recommended air pressure.

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Protect the car from the elements

To protect your car from moisture, dirt, and dust, wrap it with a breathable car cover. If you want to stop mold and mildew from growing inside the car, you can also apply a moisture absorber or desiccant.

Read more: How to Get Mold Out of Cars

Disconnect the battery

Disconnecting the battery will stop it from draining if you want to store your car for longer than a month. To keep the battery charged, you can alternatively utilize a trickle charger or battery maintainer.

Prevent flat spots on tires

Remove the tires and store them separately if you intend to keep your car in storage for a longer period of time. If it isn’t feasible, be sure to maintain the correct tire pressure and move the vehicle a few inches every few weeks to avoid flat areas from developing.

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Consider using a car alarm or GPS tracking system

In order to prevent theft and aid in the recovery of your vehicle in the event that it is stolen, you might want to spend money on a car alarm or GPS tracking system if you are storing your vehicle in an unsafe spot.

You can keep your car secure and in good condition while it’s in storage by following the guidelines outlined above.

What should you do when you are ready to resume using your car?

Here is a list of steps to do when getting ready to remove your car from storage:

  • Look under the hood for any traces of rodents. Search for chewed cables, hoses, nests, or belts. Before you start your car, take off any material that may have covered the air intake or muffler.
  • To see if the rubber on the windshield wipers is cracked or brittle, inspect them.
  • Verify the tire pressure and fill the tires with the recommended air pressure.
  • Examine the brakes. The rotors may have acquired rust. Most of the time, it ought to go after a brief drive.
  • Verify the levels of the fluids and that there have been no leaks.
  • Make sure the battery terminals are clean and reconnect the battery cable if necessary.
  • If any dirt has gathered, wash your car to get rid of it.

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How do you protect an engine for long-term storage?

  • Remove all dirt and debris from the engine.
  • Start the engine and let it run until the oil is heated.
  • Use preservation oil to protect the engine.
  • Seal all open ports, including those for intake and exhaust.
  • To stop belt degeneration and fatigue, release the tension.

What happens if I don’t drive my car for a week?

The battery will discharge over time. As a vehicle sits, several systems continue to use power. A battery can endure for several years because it will recharge while you are driving.

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How can I maximize my car storage?

  • Leave nothing in the trunk.
  • Use a storage bag.
  • Organize the back seat.
  • Set up roof rails.
  • Clear the clutter off the console.
  • Utilize the glove compartment.
  • Use the Visor wisely.
  • Keep it tidy.

How long should you keep your car?

An average car should survive 200,000 miles or more, and electric or hybrid cars may even go 300,000. A regular car should last you around 14 years, and an electric car will last you approximately 21 years if you drive the typical number of miles for an American.

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What keeps an engine healthy?

Engines require oxygen to survive, just like humans do. To maintain the engine’s operation, there must be a steady flow of air. This is made possible by air filters that stop dirt, road grime, leaves, and other unwanted items from entering the engine. But with time, they gather so much debris that it prevents them from working.

Should you store an engine with oil in it?

Never let the oil stay in an engine for a long amount of time; always change the oil. And before storage, perform any necessary maintenance on the cooling or transmission systems. Fill the petrol tank and add a fuel stabilizer to prevent varnish formation if the trip will last less than a year.

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Should I use a fuel stabilizer in my car?

Fuel stabilizers are not required for daily use. The gasoline burns up when a car is driven or used before it starts to evaporate and degrade. However, a fuel stabilizer is a great option for people who own seasonal equipment, antique cars, or boats that frequently sit for longer than three weeks at a time.

Should you change the oil before or after storage?

During storage, the engine oil is battling acids and deteriorates. Oil should be changed before storage, not after. Before storing, it is best to drain the motor oil of any acids and combustion byproducts. The best course of action is to replace the existing motor oil with new oil that is capable of combating acid.

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That is all for this article, where we looked at how you can prep your car for long-term storage. Nonetheless, we got to discuss the answers to the following questions:

  • How to prep your car for long-term storage?
  • What can you do to prepare your car for storage during a deployment?
  • How do you keep your car safe while it is in storage?
  • What should you do when you are ready to resume using your car?

We hope it was helpful. If so, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading; see you around!