When you store your vehicle, you should make sure acid rain, bird droppings, mud, road tar and grease are completely removed from the vehicle and its undercarriage. Water stains can have residual remnants from “hard water” that has deposits such as calcium which can imbed in the paint if left for a long time. Make sure to clean the wheels too. Many wheels have a clear finish applied to them and can suffer the same affects as the vehicle paint with dirt and other acidic remnants left behind. Finally, make sure to give the vehicle a good coat of wax.
Make sure any drinks, food or personal items are removed.
A storage facility can be your garage away from home. Having the vehicle in a dark, dry clean facility can help insure the vehicle does not suffer from UV rays. UV rays are the reason a vehicle’s dash cracks and why some people choose to put aluminized shades in the windows. UV rays are particularly harsh to rubber and leather and should be avoided.
A car cover is a good thing to have, but it will not provide the same protection as a garage or storage facility. It will not hurt to have it covered even if stored inside as this leaves an additional level of protection from dust and UV light.
Many aftermarket companies recommend changing the oil if the vehicle is going to sit more than 30 days. If the vehicle will be driven every several weeks and will achieve full operating temperature then this may not be necessary, but the engine should be warm enough to eliminate moisture.
Check engine coolant levels and consider changing the coolant if it has been a while. Be sure to check the engine is protected with a sufficient level of antifreeze to protect against cold temperatures or running hot. You can buy a cheap device called a hydrometer at an auto-parts store. It will draw out the antifreeze and generally has a series of balls that float indicating the level of antifreeze in the coolant mixture.
Fill the tank with premium non-ethanol enhanced fuel if possible if you expect the car to be in storage for more than a month. Sta-bil is one brand of product that has been used for years., Fuel stabilizer is a good idea, but the fuel will need to be replaced if it remains over 12 months.
Brake pads kept in contact with the rotors for too long can fuse. A better solution is to release the parking brake and “chock” the tires with wooden blocks or special devices usually readily available from the auto parts store.
Battery life can be greatly extended by keeping the battery charged. Starting the car has many benefits to both the internal components and for the battery and charging system. However, sometimes no one is available to start run and drive the vehicle. An easy solution is to disconnect the side of the battery that is grounded to the frame. The clock and other computer presets may be temporarily lost, but they will all reset when the vehicle is run again.
A device known as a battery tender or trickle charger is a great investment. Most storage places do not have electrical outlets though and you may have to take the battery out and attach the tender at home. A good trickle charger provides only enough charging to keep the battery at full capacity and no more. It does this by monitoring the batteries voltage level.
It may be a good idea to take the wiper blades and battery out of the vehicle. The wiper blades will be kept from sticking to the windows and the battery can be monitored for water levels and make sure it is being adequately charged.
Moth balls or the smell of peppermint can help add an additional level of protection. It is better to place the moth balls on the outside of the vehicle to keep the smell from detracting from the interior smells.
Mouse traps and poison are probably overkill, but they will not hurt and will add an extra layer of protection.
Also make sure to close all windows.
Either take the wiper blades with you or at least raise them or wrap them with cloth or Saran Wrap to keep them from sticking to the windows. NOTE: If you remove them remember to put them back on before starting the car back up.
It is tempting not to pay insurance premiums on a vehicle that is not driven, but you never know when the vehicle might need to be put back into service. In addition, insurance coverage might not be adequate to cover loss or theft of a stored vehicle.
Tags and vehicle taxes are also easily forgotten on an undriven vehicle.
NOTE: (You may want to place a note in the driver’s seat or on the wheel to remind you of things to check and undo):
Please do not store oil or gasoline containers in your unit. Almost all facilities have rules strictly prohibiting the storage of these and other flammable or dangerous chemicals inside the unit.
You may also need to purchase an oil absorbant mat and not cat litter or other Fuller’s earth type materials to place under your vehicle/motorcycle. Many well-run facilities will take before and after pictures of units to make sure there are no stains or other spills left to clean up. Oil stains are considered property damage and are very hard to clean up and most have provisions in the lease such that the unit must be clean and swept upon vacating.
Please come by and visit us in person or on the web for more information.