When storing a modern or classic car for an extended period it’s important that its stored correctly. There are a large number of car storage specialists in operation these day offering both internal and external option on a long or short-term basis.
The best specialists offer dehumidified, climate controlled, and secure luxury car storage for expensive classics and supercars. They carryout daily, weekly & monthly vehicle checks and offer valeting and transporting services on a national or International basis.
But what if you just want to store you’re car yourself, maybe because you are going away and don’t want to sell the car or simply want to store the car over winter. Here are the thing you need to consider.
Where should you store a car?
Not everyone has access to the off-road or dry storage but ideally a car should be stored in a secure well-ventilated, dry garage, store or barn, underground car parks are also a good option. But if not a lean-too or car port is the second best option, but isn’t recommend for long-term storage in most climates. If you have to store a car outside hardstanding or a paved driveway is preferable, to grass or another damp surface.
How do I prepare my car for storage?
Prepping the car for storage is very important and a thorough clean is recommended.
Starting with the outside, the bodywork should be given a good wash down with a sponge and a clean soapy bucket of water. Wheel arches should be pressure cleaned to remove any mud or road grime. Alloy wheel should also be cleaned with a good quality wheel cleaner. Care should be taken to remove and moss or debris that has need lodged in any areas.
The car should then be carefully dried and the door shuts cleaned using a chamois leather or microfibre cloth.
The interior should be next and I like to start by opening all the doors and boot. I then take a cloth and dust down all the interior surfaces and remove any stubborn marks. After that stage is completed I then use a small brush to remove any dirt in any hard to reach areas. The windows should then be polished both inside and out. After that its the turn of the carpets and seats to get a good hover before turning your attention to the boot or trunk area, this is a good time inspect the spare wheel area under the carpets for any water ingress that may damage the car during storage.
Once the interior is done and outside of the car is totally dry you should then add a layer of polish or wax to the car. There are lots of quality products available but this is an important step so don’t skip it.
After the car is full cleaned it is essential that you leave the car uncovered for at least 24 hours to insure it is 100% dry. We will cover the importance of quality car cover later in this article. But needless to say you don’t want to be trapping any moisture in a car when it’s in long-term storage.
Check the fluid levels
Once you are done cleaning the next step if to check the fluid levels and make sure they are topped up. This includes engine oil, brake fluids, washer fluids and coolant. You may also want to brim the Fuel tank at this point and add fuel preservative if the cars going to be stored for a long period. Alternatively some manufactures recommend draining the car of all fuel before long-term storage, so its best to seek advice on from your local dealer.
The next step is also an important one. You should make sure your cars tyre pressures are at least set to the manufacturers recommendation, if not slightly over inflated. This will insure your tyres maintain their shape and don’t flat spot whilst sitting stationary. If you don’t follow this advice tyres can loose pressure and deform over time, leaving the car underivable when you come to take it out of storage. If you are planning to leave your car for a long period it’s best to jack it up off the ground and place it on stands if possible.
It’s important to leave the cars parking or handbrake off when a cars put into storage as they can seize on over time. This is especially important if a car being left under a car port or similar, as corrosion is more likely. Instead leave the car in second gear if it’s manual and park if its and has an automatic transmission.
Depending on the climate you may also want to drive a car a short distance once you have washed your car over, this will stop any corrosion forming on the brake discs/rotors.
Whether you are storing a car internally or externally a quality car cover is an absolute must. These range massively in quality and price and there are lots of options.
Soft, breathable covers that allowing damp and moisture to escape and are ideal for inside storage and there are options to fit every make and model imaginable. Most manufacturers offer a choice of colours and custom options.
Manufacturers also offer heavy duty indoor and outdoor car covers for external storage that feature tough outer skins and soft non-woven multi-layer interior linings to protect paintwork. These covers are secured with straps and also feature welded seams and double stitched hems for extra strength and long life, allowing them to endure extreme weather conditions with ease.
You may want to place a plastic sheet or drip tray under your car. This not only allows you to check for and drips or leaks, it also adds another damp barrier further protecting a cars underside.
If you live in a very harsh environment, have a very expensive car or are just looking for the ultimate level of protection. Carcoon have the solution for you, they make highly versatile car cocoons that are suitable for both internal and external use.
The Carcoon is very simple to use, all you need to do is cover the garage floor with the base mat provided, park your car on the mat, place the top cover over the car and fasten it to the base using the special zipper. Plug in the power supply, and five minutes later, your car is stored in its own protected environment, with nothing touching or resting on any part of the car.
The Carcoon also comes with an ‘intelligent’ battery management system that powers the Carcoon and maintains the battery of the stored vehicle in optimum condition. It also features a unique patented ‘active airflow’ system that comprises of two air treatment units which operate continuously to provide super-atmospheric, circulating airflow for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Importantly, the circulating air is taken from inside the storage unit itself, which effectively isolates the flow of air from the outside environment. With a running cost of approximately 2 pence per day, who can’t afford that kind of protection?
Purchase a quality trickle charger
A modern trickle charger is another useful item if you are putting a car into storage. There are various types of battery charger currently available but the most commonly used is made by CTEC. These modern smart chargers offer a much safer and efficient way of maintaining and prolonging the life of the battery than the older designs.
They are also suitable for both internal and external usage and only require a constant power supply. We have been using these chargers for years on a variety of different cars and have found them to be faultless.
These chargers are used and supplied by top manufacturers from Fiat to Ferrari.
Cars like to be used and driven regularly. But can be stored easily and safely if you follow the advice above. You should take great care in preparing a car for long term storage and even greater car choosing somewhere to store a car.
Car storage tips
- Don’t use the parking brake
- Always use a quality car cover
- Check you lights and fluid levels
- Use a modern trickle charger to keep you cars battery in top condition
- Make sure you remove and food or perishable
- Notify your insurance company if your car is being stored away from your property
- Block the air intake and exhaust tail pipe with rags to stop rodent damage
- Before disconnecting the battery refer to the owner’s manual for any recommendation and make sure you’ve noted the radio code
- Do not use cheap plastic cover as they can damage the paint
- Use a tray slid beneath to monitor any potential fluid loss
- Keep a battery conditioner or trickle charger connected at all times
- Spray unpainted surfaces and rust prone areas with light oil or WD-40 to keep corrosion away
- Disconnect the battery if you can’t use a trickle charger
- Park your car on a plastic sheet to protect the underside from corrosion
- Check your car for any leaks or drops from the brakes, transmission, and engine, and repair any leaks you find.
- Take advice on draining the fuel from your cars tank from a local dealer
- Always give your vehicle a thougher clean before putting it into storage
- Over inflate you tyres if your parking the car up for an extended period.
- Add a fuel stabiliser or preservative and top up your tank
- If you are planning to leave your car for a long period it’s best to jack it up off the ground and place it on stands if possible
- Leave the windows partially open for ventilation
- If it’s an auto put the transmission in park(P) – if it’s a manual leave it in second gear
- Minimise the chances of condensation forming in the tank by filling it full of fuel
- Allowed a car to fully air dry for 24 hours prior to storage
- Make sure your coolant system is filled with none corrosive winter coolant.
- Run the engine occasionally if possible
- Drive the car periodically
- Wax-oil your chassis and door shuts if your storing a car for a long period