Got travel plans? Perhaps you’re taking an extended vacation, traveling for business, or serving a military deployment. (If it’s the latter, we are deeply grateful for your service!) Whatever the case, you’ll need to prepare your car for long-term storage to prevent any unfortunate happenings while you’re gone.
Cars that aren’t prepared or stored properly and not driven for a while can result in dead batteries, flat tires, new rodent living quarters, and more. You don’t want to come home to that. So here are some tips to ready your car for long-term storage.
Going Away? Get Your Car Ready for Long-Term Storage
1. Leave it in the garage.
A covered space that’s protected from the elements is ideal. (Also protects your car from theft!) If you don’t have a garage, consider a public storage facility. If you can’t do that either, purchase a weatherproof car cover.
2. Give it a good wash.
It may seem silly to wash your car before you leave on a long-term trip, but caked-on bird poop, dead bugs, dirt and debris left on your car’s exterior can erode the paint while you’re away. And don’t neglect the wheels or undercarriage, either. Left unattended, debris and dirt can harm critical components of your car.
3. Check the tire pressure.
Ensure your tires are filled up to the proper pressure (check your owner’s manual to find out the ideal psi for your car’s tires). Leaving your car sit for too long without properly inflated tires can result in flat spots. In some cases, flat spots can’t be worked out by driving and you’ll end up needing to buy new tires.
4. Prevent rodents from taking up residence.
Set traps or leave out rat poison (not if pets are there, though!) or mothballs to prevent rodents from setting up camp in your car. Close off the exhaust pipes and other open areas with steel wool a mouse or rat could crawl in — but don’t forget to remove them later.
5. Fill the gas tank.
This is especially important if you’ll be gone more than 30 days, but filling the gas tank prevents moisture from accumulating in the gas tank and prevents seals from drying out. Also add a fuel stabilizer to prevent ethanol buildup, protect the engine from rust, and prevent the gas from deteriorating.
6. Get the oil changed.
This is also important if you’ll be gone more than 30 days. Used engine oil contains contaminants that could damage your car’s engine if left to sit for long periods of time.
7. Have someone drive your car.
If possible, have someone start your car and drive it for 15 minutes or so every two weeks. This keeps the car’s battery charged and keeps the engine and other components lubricated. Have your driver run the air conditioner as well, to keep it running smoothly and prevent stale air.
8. Don’t set the parking brake.
Having the parking brake set for too long can cause the brake pads to fuse to the rotors, which will be a problem the next time you drive the car. If you’re concerned about not using your parking brake, use a tire stopper.
Call JL Motorworks to schedule an oil change or with any questions about preparing your car for long-term storage.