Long term car storage requires a few precautionary steps to ensure the vehicle emerges from storage in tiptop shape. Depending on the length of time a car will be stored, rust, fuel breakdown and other forms of corrosion can take their toll on a vehicle improperly prepared for its period of non-use. The last thing a car owner wants is to retrieve a vehicle from storage only to find it unsuitable for driving due to a dead battery, bad gas in the fuel tank or problems with the crankcase. Avoid these and other problems by taking the proper steps to store a car.
While it is important to tend to the internal systems of a car when storing it, making sure the exterior of the car stays in good condition is just as vital. When storing a vehicle, cover it. This can be accomplished in several ways. Ideally, a car can sit in a ventilated garage, out of the elements but not entirely sealed off. Other options include a rentable storage unit or a portable garage which consists of a metal frame and a nylon tarp. It is best for a stored car to be indoors, but if this is not possible, cover it at the very least with a breathable canvas car cover crafted with multiple layers for adequate moisture protection.
Given enough time and non-use, gasoline in a car’s fuel tank will start to break down and gum up in places, preventing the car from starting. To avoid this, fill up the gas tank before storing a vehicle. Add to the tank a fuel stabilizer designed to prevent hardening. After driving the car for a few miles to work the stabilizer through the system, it’s safe to store. Don’t store a car with an empty tank, because moisture could creep inside and form rust.
Before storing a vehicle, change both the oil and the oil filter. Old, used oil left to sit inside an engine for a long time may eventually cause corrosion on vital parts. Damage from moisture and acidic substances is possible if the oil is not changed before storage. As with the fuel stabilizer, drive the vehicle for several miles after changing the oil to fully circulate it through the system.
Remove all of the spark plugs from the engine block and give them a quick cleaning or replace them if they are black and greasy at the contact point. Into the cylinder pour a small amount of new motor oil, about a teaspoon. Doing this helps to prevent rust from forming in the cylinders. Replace the spark plugs once each cylinder has been lubricated.
Disconnect the battery from the car. If the top of it is corroded, clean it off using a simple mixture of water and baking soda. Over time the battery will lose its charge, even when disconnected. For best results, attach the battery to a trickle charger to maintain its charge.
The last thing to do before storing a car is to top off all other fluids including transmission and brake fluids. If these basic steps are followed, upon returning the vehicle to the road, the car should be just as it was before storage.