Living where there are four seasons means that sometimes the cars we own or collect need to sit for a while. Your sports car or convertible should not be your first choice for snowy or icy roads, especially if you live somewhere where they use salt to de-ice the roads, something that can damage your baby if you are not careful. However, improper storage can do nearly as much damage as driving it can, sometimes even more. As a general rule, you should think of storage as a special way to treat your car. You should store it like you drive it.
Keep It Covered
This covers a couple of different things. When considering putting up your car for the season, the key is finding car storage facilities in your area that have the things you need to keep your car protected the way it should be.
- Coverage: even if the storage area is inside, put a cover on your car, one that will protect it from dust but has a lining or is made of material that will not cause micro scratches in the paint or clear coat.
- Climate Controlled: If you can, find a storage place that is climate controlled. Temperature can have a big impact on vehicle storage.
- Electricity: If possible, you will want to have access to electricity so that you can trickle charge your battery (more on that in a moment) and will have light to do inspections regularly.
The second way your car should be covered is by insurance. While it seems like insuring your car when it is not being driven is a waste, that is not always true. If the storage unit you have chosen does not have insurance for your belongings (usually they do not) make sure that either your homeowner’s insurance extends to storage units you rent, your auto insurance will cover it there, or that you by separate insurance against theft and damage while your car is in storage.
No one wants anything to go wrong, but when it does, it is vital that you have the insurance and coverage you need to make sure that you can replace your car, and that its loss does not have a significant financial impact.
Keep it Maintained
Besides the trickle charger mentioned above, a way to keep your battery maintained and working, there are a number of other steps you should take to make sure that your car and its components do not deteriorate while it is being stored.
- Change Fluids Before and After Storage: When fluids sit in lines and reservoirs, many of them tend to be acidic, or like brake fluid are hydroscopic and attract water, which can cause damage to your systems. Have essential fluids changed before you store your vehicle, check them often when it is in storage, and have them changed again after you take it out of storage to use again.
- Check Tires and Tire Pressures: If at all possible, store your car with the tires off the ground by using jack stands or other devices. This will prevent them from deteriorating or becoming flat on one side, depending on how long you store it for. Make sure pressures are good, and you adjust them for temperature changes as needed.
- Keep Things Clean: Clean your car before you store it, and again when you take it out of storage. Be sure you remove dust and debris, anything that can cause scratches or issues. This includes the interior, which you should vacuum and clean thoroughly both before and after extended storage.
Many of the things you would do to maintain your car out of storage should be part of your routine when it is in storage as well. Proper maintenance will save you money and vehicle down time once the seasons change.
Yes, you should drive defensively, but you should also store your car defensively. Take every step to prevent damage. Keep the area around your vehicle clear of other items you may be storing that might get bumped or fall against the car.
The cover you choose should be both protective and gentle, one that won’t cause damage, but also will provide the coverage you need in the environment you store it in.
While you may have to pay extra for certain types of storage, like climate controlled areas and ones patrolled regularly by security that have a good record preventing theft, in the long run the extra cost will be worth the defense it provides for your vehicle.
When it comes to storing your vehicle, nothing is a substitute for your peace of mind, and paying extra and being proactive means you vehicle will not only help protect your vehicle, but make the transition from storage to summer driving both easy and enjoyable.