Whether you’re storing a dedicated track or fair-weather car for the winter or planning to travel for an extended period of time—and any situation in between—sometimes it’s necessary to store your car long-term. But how do you do that?

Even if you have the relative luxury of owning a garage, merely storing your prized four-wheel (or two-wheel) possession in an enclosed space is not enough. Owners must consider a variety of factors ranging from keeping the battery charged, preventing tire flat spots, and even maintaining insurance while keeping one’s car in storage.

A lot of care must be taken before and during the process of storing your vehicle. If you’re a little lost as to how to start or just need a brief refresher on the proper course of action, we’ve got you covered!

 

STORAGE SOLUTIONS

Proper storage begins with, well, proper storage! Optimally, this means keeping your vehicle in a garage where it can be protected against the elements and potential thieves, especially if you don’t expect to be home for an extended period of time. A garage will primarily protect your vehicle’s paint and interior from the sun, which can otherwise accelerate deterioration due to heat and extended exposure to UV rays.

If you don’t have access to a garage, the next best option is to find safe public storage in your area. Unfortunately, finding such storage at a reasonable price is not possible in all areas. If you must leave your car outdoors, we recommend utilizing a high quality weatherproof car cover which will similarly protect against the elements. Although no substitute for proper indoor storage, this is undoubtedly the best next step.

Before putting your vehicle into storage—regardless of where that may be—make sure to wash away all dirt and grime. Any residue such as dried mud or bird droppings can adversely affect your vehicle’s paint over the long term.

 

MECHANICAL MAINTENANCE

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but depending on how long you plan to keep your vehicle in storage, it may be prudent to change the oil and top off the gas tank. Check your vehicle’s manual for specific advice regarding long-term storage contingencies. Otherwise, it’s generally recommended to get the oil changed and your gas tank topped off if you plan to store your vehicle longer than 30 days.

Using fresh oil will minimize the presence of any contaminants which may negatively affect your engine when stored for longer than 30 days. Similarly, topping off the tank with fresh gasoline can also help prevent damage to the engine. In tandem with filling up with fresh fuel, purchase a fuel stabilizer such as the popular Sta-bil which will ensure that this fuel stays fresh for up to 24 months.

Finally, make sure to keep up with battery maintenance too. A disused battery will gradually lose its charge until it eventually loses its charge altogether. To prevent this, the optimal solution is to use a battery tender, which works by delivering a steady stream of electricity to keep the battery from discharging. Some are designed for use with motorcycles and ATVs, while automobiles will generally require more robust battery tenders.

 

TIRES TOO

Over extended periods of time, tires may develop flat spots due to the weight of the vehicle pressing down on their contact patches. Although this issue affects certain types of tires more strongly than others, it’s nevertheless wise to inflate the tires to the recommended pressure before putting your vehicle into long-term storage.

Alternatively—and especially if you’re planning to leave your car unattended for more than 30 days—you may wish to remove the wheels and keep your car safely propped up on jack stands. This process will obviously require more work before and after taking your car out of storage, but can net great benefits in terms of tire longevity.

If this latter option isn’t possible and you must instead keep the car on its wheels, don’t use the parking brake to keep the car stopped! Instead, purchase durable tire stoppers which will prevent your car from moving.

 

CAREFUL CONSIDERATIONS

Just a few straightforward steps will ensure that your vehicle remains in tip-top shape even months into long-term storage: choose the best storage solution in your budget, take care of basic preliminary maintenance, and consider removing the wheels and propping your vehicle up on jack stands if you plan to leave it in storage for longer than 30 days. Careful planning now will prevent headaches in the future.

We hope our quick guide has given you the tools and knowledge you need to confidently store your vehicle in the future if the need arises. If you have any further tips or suggestions, let us know in the comments below!