When the weather is no longer allowing you to drive your convertible, when you’re planning to take an extended leave, or just want to keep your classic muscle car in a controlled environment, there's no better place for your car than a long-term storage facility. The way you store your car depends on several factors, like the age, duration of storage, and local climate. Even if you need to store a vehicle for a short time, a self-storage unit can be an ideal solution. Here’s a quick guide to keeping your ride in a storage unit.
Most of the car storages include a non-climate controlled environment. Storage providers offer climate controlled units, but most of these aren’t large enough to fit a car. If you have an expensive classic car to store, try to find a designated showroom to keep your vintage car at a proper temperature and humidity. Keep in mind, that such storage options are expensive, so please keep on reading to learn how to prepare your car for long-term storage in a non-climate controlled unit.
While not every one of us can afford a garage, a local storage facility is ideal if you aren't going to use the car for an extended period. While it may seem illogical to get the car washed just before putting it away for months, old mud stains and bird droppings can damage the paint if not removed on time. Make sure to clean the wheels and fender undersides to get rid of mud, grease or tar. For added protection, add the coat of wax. Finally, use a car cover to keep it free of dust until you roll it out again.
Not many car owners know that a full gas tank prevents moisture from accumulating inside and keeps the seals from drying out. Topping off is highly recommended if the car is in storage for more than 30 days. Also, purchase a fuel stabilizer to prevent ethanol build-up and protect the engine from gum, varnish, and rust. Besides, if the car won't be used longer than a month, consider having the oil changed as well since used engine oil has contaminants that could damage the engine.
An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge, so ask someone to start the car every two weeks and drive it for about 15 minutes if possible. Not only does this maintain the battery charged but it helps the car "stretch its legs" and keep the engine components lubricated. If that is not an option, you can either disconnect the negative battery cable, which will restart your stereo presets, time and other settings or purchase a battery tender. This gadget hooks up on your battery on one end, and plugs into a wall outlet on the other, keeping the power level just enough to prevent the battery from discharging.
Although the main idea of storing your car away is to protect it while not being used, when the car isn't under your immediate control or supervision, it can be vulnerable to a series of unfortunate events. While an entry-level, or third-party insurance covers the damage your car causes to someone else's property, a comprehensive package covers the damage to your vehicle in the case of fire, flood, theft or intentional damage, but also extends to your possessions found in the car in case of an insured event. The best thing is that you can tailor these packages to include or exclude various insured scenarios.
Flat-spotting occurs when a tire flattens over time due to the contact with the ground. The process occurs faster in colder temperatures and vehicles with performance or low-profile tires. While in some cases having someone drive a car for 15 minutes every two weeks is enough to bring the tires up to their normal operating temperature and eliminate any flat spots, in more severe cases, the flat spots become a permanent part of the tire. Before leaving your car in a storage unit, make sure the tires are inflated to the recommended pressure, and if kept stored from more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands. Not only does this protect your tires but it also takes the strain off suspension components.
At some point, you need to select the storage unit that suits your car size. Measure your car and to make sure you rent a space wide enough, don't forget to include additional width for the mirrors, even if they fold back. The storage should be spacious enough to let you walk around your vehicle. For compact cars, like Mini Cooper, VW Golf, and Toyota Corolla, a 10x15' storage unit will be more than enough, while if you drive a full-size family car or an SUV like Honda Civic, Toyota Tundra, or Ford Explorer, you're going to need a 10x20' unit. Finally, sizes of 10x25' and above are used for storing larger crew cab trucks and commercial vans.
The padlock that you choose for your storage unit is sometimes the only thing that protects your car from unauthorized access. Even if the facility you're using already has safety precautions, a solid padlock will give you peace of mind that you went an extra length to secure your car or bike. Although brass padlocks are popular due to their low price, you should go for steel alloy, which is a more robust material and more resistant to drilling and other violent methods. Padlocks with a close shackle offer more security, as they expose less of the shackle to be tampered with.
Placing your car for an extended stay in a storage unit is a huge upgrade from leaving it in an empty garage spot. Extended car storage is also invaluable in the time of relocation or dramatic changes in life, or if you have a convertible roadster that isn’t fun to drive in the winter. In any case, unless you prepare your car for long-term storage, you risk damage to the engine, tires, empty battery, or even vandalism and intentional damage.
By: Lilly Miller
Lilly is a graphic designer and a passionate writer. Loves everything about home decor, art history and baking. Shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. Based in Sydney, but world is her playground.