Putting your car into long-term storage is a decision often made for a variety of practical reasons, ranging from seasonal weather considerations to personal circumstances. This decision can help preserve your vehicle’s condition, protect it from environmental factors, and save you money in the long run.
Whether you’re protecting a classic car, preparing for extended travel, or simply avoiding the hassles of maintaining a seldom-used vehicle, long-term storage at a facility like Titan Storage can be a smart and responsible choice for car owners.
Preparation Is Paramount
Before delving into the preparation steps, it’s essential to understand why long-term car storage can be detrimental to your vehicle if not done correctly. Cars are designed to be driven regularly. When they sit idle for extended periods, several issues can arise:
- Battery Drain: If your car’s battery isn’t properly maintained, it can lose its charge, rendering the vehicle inoperable when you’re ready to use it again.
- Tire Damage: Continuous pressure on one area of the tire (from sitting in the same position) can lead to flat spots, causing vibration and uneven wear when you finally drive the car.
- Fluid Degradation: Engine oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid can deteriorate over time, potentially leading to damage and costly repairs.
- Corrosion: Moisture in the air can lead to rust on various parts of the car, including the engine, undercarriage, and exhaust system.
- Vermin and Pests: Small creatures like rodents can find their way into your car’s engine bay and interior, causing damage to wires, upholstery, and more.
- Stale Fuel: If your fuel isn’t stabilised or drained, it can degrade and lead to engine problems.
To avoid these issues, follow this checklist to prepare your car for long-term storage.
1. Clean Your Car Thoroughly
Before storing your car, give it a proper cleaning inside and out. Include everything like the wheels, fenders, and hubcaps. This serves several purposes:
- Dirt and Debris: Remove dirt, dust, and debris from both the exterior and interior.
- Moisture: Clean the car’s interior to remove any moisture that might have accumulated. Use moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packs to further control humidity.
- Wax and Polish: Apply a good coat of wax to the exterior to protect the paint during storage.
3. Change the Oil and Filter
Old oil can contain contaminants that can lead to engine damage over time. Before storing your car, change the oil and oil filter. Fresh oil will help protect the engine during its dormant period.
- Contamination and Lubrication: If old oil filled with impurities sits in your engine during storage, it can cause corrosion and wear on critical engine components. Fresh oil also serves as a lubricant that reduces friction and heat between moving parts.
- Seal Preservation: Engine oil plays a role in maintaining the integrity of seals and gaskets within the engine. Fresh oil helps keep these seals in better condition.
- Changing the Oil: Before installing the new oil filter, apply a small amount of fresh oil to the rubber gasket on the top of the filter to help create a proper seal. After adding the oil, run the engine for a minute or two to allow the new oil to circulate before checking the oil levels after it resettles.
4. Fill Up the Fuel Tank
Fill your car’s gas tank to prevent moisture from accumulating inside. You can also add a fuel stabiliser to prevent the fuel from degrading. A full tank helps reduce the risk of rust inside the tank.
- Moisture Prevention: An empty or partially filled fuel tank allows moisture to accumulate inside due to the air space which can lead to corrosion over time. A full tank minimises the air space and reduces the chance of moisture buildup.
- Fuel Stability: Fuel can degrade over time, especially if exposed to air. This degradation can result in the formation of varnish and gum deposits that can clog fuel lines, injectors, and carburettors.
- Adding a Stabiliser: Keep in mind that fuel stabilisers have a shelf life, and their effectiveness diminishes over time. It’s a good practice to add a fresh dose when you visit your stored car to maintain fuel quality.
5. Disconnect or Remove the Battery
If you plan to store your car for an extended period (more than a month), it’s advisable to disconnect the battery or remove it entirely. This prevents the battery from draining and potentially becoming damaged.
- Disconnect the Battery: Disconnect both the positive and negative terminals and clean the cable ends of any corrosion or dirt before covering them.
- Remove the Battery (Optional): If you prefer, you can remove the entire battery from the car. If you do, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures.
- Consider Using a Trickle Charger: To maintain the battery’s charge during storage, connect a trickle charger to the battery according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A trickle charger provides a low, constant charge to keep the battery in optimal condition.
6. Elevate the Car
Elevating your car on jack stands during long-term storage is an additional precaution that can help preserve your tires and overall vehicle condition.
- Flat Spots and Tire Shape: The weight of a car pressing down on tires over an extended period can create flat spots, especially in areas where the tires make consistent contact with the ground. Relieving the pressure will prevent this and also allow tires to maintain their proper shape.
- Suspension Health: By supporting your car’s weight on jack stands, you also reduce the load on the suspension components, which can help prevent sagging and wear during storage.
- Inflate the Tires: Inflate tires to the recommended pressure before elevating the car, as overinflated or underinflated tires can develop issues during storage.
7. Extra Protections
Taking extra steps to care for the interiors and exterior of your car will ensure it is in better condition when you return to it.
- Use a Car Cover: Invest in a breathable car cover to shield your vehicle from dust and debris. Make sure the cover fits snugly to prevent pests from getting in.
- Lubricate Moving Parts: To prevent corrosion and to maintain a good condition, lubricate key moving parts such as the door hinges, locks, and latches. to ensure they continue to function smoothly.
- Protect Against Moisture: If your storage unit is not temperature-controlled consider using desiccant bags or dehumidifiers to maintain a dry environment.
- Avoid Battery Drain: Disconnect any electronic devices like GPS units or dashcams to prevent battery drain.
8. Document and Insure
Documenting the condition of your car and keeping your car insured while it’s in long-term storage is a wise decision for several important reasons. Contact your insurance company to discuss what options are best for you.
- What to Document: Create a record of your car’s current condition with photos or videos. Highlight the condition of the dashboard, seats, upholstery, and carpets and take a clear photo of the car’s mileage. Also, note any valuable items you may have stored inside
- Benefits of Insurance: Maintaining continuous insurance coverage, even during storage, helps protect your no-claims bonus and reactivating an existing insurance policy is often easier and more cost-effective than applying for a new one.
- Compliance with Legal Requirements: In many places, it’s a legal requirement to have insurance on any registered vehicle, even if it’s not in regular use. Keeping your car insured while in storage ensures you comply with local laws and regulations.
9. Maintain Regular Checkups
Even though your car is in storage, it’s beneficial to periodically check on it. Depending on the length of storage, plan to visit your car every now and then to perform the following checks:
- Tire Pressure: Ensure the tires are adequately inflated and free of flat spots.
- Battery Charge: Check the battery voltage and recharge if necessary.
- Fluids: Inspect all fluid levels, including oil, coolant, and brake fluid. Top up as needed.
- Interior: Check for any signs of pests or moisture inside the car.
- Exterior: Inspect the car cover and ensure it’s still securely in place
10. Preparing to Drive Again
When your car is ready to be driven again after long-term storage, performing a series of essential checks is crucial to ensure its safe and reliable operation. Here’s a look at the steps to follow:
- Visual Inspection: Examine the exterior and interior for signs of damage, including dents, scratches, or any indications of rodents or pests.
- Tire Inspection: Check tire pressure and inflate them to the recommended levels if necessary. Inspect the tires for visible signs of damage, dry rot, cracking or flat spots.
- Fluid Levels: Check engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant levels. Top up as needed. Inspect for any signs of fluid leaks under the car.
- Battery Reconnection: Reconnect the battery if it was disconnected during storage. Ensure the battery terminals are clean and securely attached.
- Fuel System: If a fuel stabiliser was used, there’s usually no need to drain the fuel tank. If not, consider draining and refilling the tank with fresh fuel.
- Oil and Filter: Verify that you changed the oil and oil filter before storage. If not, consider changing the oil and filter now.
- Lights and Signals: Test all exterior lights, including headlights, taillights, turn signals, and brake lights. Verify that the interior lights, dashboard lights, and instrument panel are functioning correctly.
- Drive Belts: Inspect the drive belts for cracks, fraying, or excessive wear. Tighten or replace any belts as necessary.
- Wash the car: It is advisable to wash the car to remove any dust or build-up of dirt.
- Test Drive: Take a short test drive to evaluate the car’s overall performance and pay attention to the brakes, steering, transmission shifting, and engine responsiveness. If the car pulls to one side, consider getting a wheel alignment check.
- Vehicle Registration and Insurance: Verify that your vehicle’s registration and insurance are up-to-date before hitting the road.
The Facility: Titan Storage
Choosing the right storage location is critical to keeping your car safe and in good condition. There are various factors to consider such as climate control, security, convenience and customer support.
Titan Storage offers a comprehensive solution for long-term car storage, combining 24/7 surveillance, state-of-the-art facilities, and a variety of amenities to ensure that your vehicle is well-protected and ready for use whenever you need it.
Choosing Titan Storage provides peace of mind and a hassle-free storage experience for your valuable investment. Now all you need to do is get in touch and discover our storage options