Preparing Your Car for Winter Storage

Taking the best care of your car, truck, or SUV is easy when you are driving it regularly, but in many parts of the country, winter means putting a prized set of wheels in storage for months on end. But with mandatory quarantines and civil unrest, even car enthusiasts in warmer climates are keeping their cars locked safely away. No matter why you are putting your car in mothballs, the following steps will help you protect your vehicle and make sure it is ready to drive when you need it.

Full Detail:

Wash, Wax, and Vaccum your car. Not only should you be doing this often, but a good wash and wax will protect the paint and give you peace of mind that no tree sap, bird droppings, or other organic material are going to be eating away at your cars paint while it is put away.

Change the Fluids: 

If you are getting close to your service interval anyways, take the time to change your oil, coolant, and other fluids. Do a visual inspection of your belts and hoses to make sure they are all good. Depending on how long it is going to sit, you might plan on replacing rubber components as part of your maintenance when you get ready to drive again.

Garage It:

If possible put your car in a garage or at least under some kind of carport to protect it from the elements. If you must park it outside buy a high-quality outdoor-rated car cover. As well as a lock and some additional straps to secure it in place.

Fill the Tank:

Filling up the tank is especially important on older vehicles with tanks that are prone to developing rust on the inside. If you plan on storing your car for more than two months adding a fuel stabilizer helps prevent the breakdown of modern gasoline. This can be avoided if you fill up with ethanol-free gasoline. For regular gasoline or diesel, you will usually need 1 ounce of stabilizer for every 3-5 gallons of gas, but check the label as some brands have a different ratio.

Pest Control:

Nothing is worse than going out to the garage and preparing to enjoy another season behind the wheel only to find that rodents have destroyed your wiring. On a classic car this can cost a few hundred dollars to repair, but on an exotic car, replacing a wiring harness can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Investing in a few traps can save you a lot of money down the road.

Power Issues:

If you are going to leave the battery in your car, consider using a battery mat which will help prevent damage to your car's battery tray from any battery acid leak. On older cars, it's recommended that you disconnect the battery, but on modern cars, a battery tender or trickle charger is the better choice to make sure that the car is ready to drive when you need it.

Jack it Up:

Jack the car up to take the load off the tires to prevent flat spots. Once the car is secure on jack stands, release the parking brake so it doesn't fuse in place. Obviously, consult your owners manual on where the jacking points are for your vehicle.

Professional Storage:

In most major cities professional automotive storage companies will keep your car safe and have it ready to go with just a phone call. From Collector Car Vault in Los Angeles to Petrol Lounge in Austin, you should be able to find someone to keep your classic or collector vehicle safely stored in most parts of the country. Depending on the level of service and location pricing can range from $75-$1,500 a month