You may have heard a horror story or two from someone who stuck their car in storage to keep it safe while away on a long-term business trip, T.D.Y., deployment, or some other extended trip. If they were lucky, maybe a stray branch or a hail storm came through and did damage to the car while the owner was gone. While it’s not a great situation, usually those natural causes will be fully covered by an auto insurance policy, so it’s easy enough to get the car back to safely operable. The bigger bummer are those who don’t take the time to store their vehicle properly and come back to it how ever many months later to find a car that won’t start, even after the battery has been replaced. In this situation, insult is added to injury because auto insurance isn’t designed to provide coverage for wear and tear—or owner negligence. If you know you won’t be able to drive your vehicle for more than a couple months, it’s important to take the time to prepare it for storage so it won’t need expensive car repair from damage gained just from sitting there.
Do I really need to prep my car for storage?
Yes, you really do! You might not realize it, but your car can undertake some pretty destructive and expensive damage just from sitting untouched in your garage! Sure, it seems like a stretch, but anyone who has ever had a battery corrode while still connected to their car can tell you that proper storage steps are definitely required to stave off issues. Even something as small as road grit or residual rock salt can wreck your paint job and start eating away at your car’s chassis if it’s left to sit for too long. A five-dollar car wash is a great deal less expensive than bodywork and a new paint job. So before you decide that you just don’t have the time to prepare your car before storing it, think about the potential time and expense that would be required to get your vehicle up and running again after damage that happens while it’s stored. In order to safely store your vehicle, start with the following steps.
Find a safe place to store it
Parking your car on the street in front of your house is a good place to keep it out of the way, but if it’s going to be sitting there for a while, that could be an easy invitation for theft. It also increases the likelihood it will be sideswiped by a snow plow or hailed on. You’ll want to find somewhere indoors to store your car; this will keep it out of sight but it will also prevent a lot of environmental factors from getting at your car and causing damage. Clear out space in your garage, ask a family member if they have a covered space you can use, or check with a local storage facility.
Get your car serviced
If your car is only going to be stored for a couple of weeks, this might not be as necessary, but if it will be a few months or more that it sits unused, go through the routine maintenance steps—yes, even if you’re only halfway to that next mileage point for an oil change. Once the oil in your car has been used, it can carry contaminants that may damage your engine. Just before the car goes into storage, get the oil and filter changed, fill up the gas tank, and ensure the coolant is topped off. While you’re at it, accept that multi-point inspection that your mechanic offers. This will find any small issues and help prevent them from becoming bigger ones. Finally, ensure the tires are all filled to the recommended pressure shown on the sidewall of the tires; err on the side of more-full rather than less, but don’t go over the maximum pressure listed on the tires.
A note about tires: If you’ll be storing your car for more than a month, you run the risk of the tires getting flat spots as the weather fluctuates. You’ll want to ask a family member or friend if they can take your car out for the occasional drive. If not, it might be prudent to invest in jacks for all four corners. It’s not a necessity, but it will reduce the risk that you’ll need new tires when you return.
Now that your car is in great shape, it’s ready to actually go into storage, wherever that may be. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog series for more on how to ensure your car is properly stored, and contact Your Import Car Doctor to schedule your pre-storage car service in Colorado Springs!