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Types of Car Storage

Storage facilities that offer car storage services do so in three flavors: outdoor car storage, where the facility offers a parking space for you to keep your vehicle somewhere on the facility grounds, covered car storage, where the outdoor lot is covered by a roof, and indoor car storage units, which are simply your typical drive-up storage units large enough to contain a motor vehicle. Each offers different benefits and costs, with outdoor spaces offering the least protection but the lowest prices and indoor units offering the most protection but the highest prices. Whichever type of car storage is best for you will depend on things like your budget, the type and quality of your car, and the period of time you plan on keeping your car in storage.

outdoor car storage

Outdoor Car Storage

Facilities that offer outdoor car storage are typically referring to a paved parking spot on the facility premises, usually within the facility’s gate. While some facilities have designated parking spots for car storage on the premises, many simply offer unused space around their drive-up storage buildings and on the outskirts of the facility grounds. Since these spots aren’t under a roof or in a building, they’re typically the cheapest way to store a car at a storage facility.

However, storing your car outside leaves it vulnerable to damage from the elements, most notably precipitation and the sun, the first of which can cause your car to rust, while the second can damage your car’s paint and tires. Because of these environmental threats, you should always use a high-quality car cover while keeping it outside for lengthy periods of time, and consider using covered or indoor car storage if you plan on keeping the car at the storage facility for a long period of time.

Covered Car Storage

Some storage facilities offer dedicated, covered spaces for you to park your car. These are often tall, wide, flat roofs under which several vehicles will be parked. Though you’ll typically pay more for these spots than for those without a roof, the roof offers some important protections from the elements.

Two of the greatest environmental dangers involved with storing your car outside are sunlight and precipitation, and these threats are greatly reduced with the addition of a roof. Still, your car may be exposed to some sun and precipitation while under a roof, and dust and dirt will remain a concern, so if you’re looking for the maximum amount of protection while storing your car, it’s best to turn to indoor car storage.

covered car storage
car storage units

Indoor Car Storage Units

For those looking for maximum protection from the elements while storing their car, renting a self-storage unit large enough to contain a car is the best way to go. Storing your car inside a typical storage unit will protect it from the sun, from precipitation, from dirt and dust, and from extreme temperatures. It’s sometimes even possible to rent a climate-controlled storage unit to keep your car in.

If your car storage needs are long-term, it’s safest to keep your car inside, as the damages environmental factors may wreak upon your vehicle will accumulate over time. One additional benefit of keeping your car inside a storage unit is the ability to store other items alongside it. Keep in mind when searching for a storage unit to store your car that you’ll require a unit with drive-up access, as you won’t be able to fit your car through any interior hallways.

Though indoor car storage is the most attractive option for almost every situation, it can be significantly more expensive than renting an outdoor or covered parking spot at a facility. If your vehicle is small and you can fit it inside a 10x15 storage unit then the price may not be too steep. But if you require something like a 10x30 unit, you could be spending significantly more.

Car Storage Unit Size Guide

Facilities often charge for outdoor and covered car storage spaces based on the size of the vehicle, with larger vehicles predictably costing more to store. When facilities do rent out specific parcels of outdoor or covered storage space, these are rarely according to any kind of standard like you’ll find with storage units. When searching for outdoor or covered spaces you’ll see all manner of dimensions, from 8’ x 20’ lots to 11’ x 15’ lots.

If you’re looking for a storage unit to keep your car, there are only a few select sizes large enough to contain a vehicle. Since storage units come in standard sizes, we can help you figure out which size you’ll need for your type of car. Below you’ll find details about each size of car storage unit, as well as a list of popular models that can be stored in each size. For a more complete list of car dimensions and recommended unit sizes by model, see our car storage size guide.

10x10 car storage

10x10 Car Storage:

10x10 units will only work for motorcycles and very small cars. The vast majority of cars on the road are longer than ten feet, and only some of the newest European imports are shorter than that.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: 2013 smart for two.

10x15 Car Storage:

Most coupes, hatchbacks, crossovers and small SUVs come in at just around 15 feet in length, some a few more, some a few less. If you’re not planning on storing anything else in the unit and you drive one of the above body types, particularly a two-door model, it’s likely you’ll be able to squeeze your vehicle into a 10x15 storage unit, though you might be left with only a few inches of space. Always make sure to measure your vehicle before renting out a storage unit, particularly if you drive a vehicle that’s just around 15 feet in length.

10x15 car storage
10x20 car storage

10x20 Car Storage

The vast majority of automobiles will fit comfortably inside a 10x20 self-storage unit. This includes SUVs, crossovers, sedans, minivans, pickup trucks, and most full-sized vans. For most consumers, the biggest decision when looking for a car storage unit will be whether or not they can fit their car inside a 10x15 and save a little extra money on rent each month. Otherwise, 10x20s make for a good, safe default, as the majority of consumer motor vehicles are less than 20 feet in length.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: Acura MDX, Acura TL, Audi A8, BMW 3 Series, BMW 4 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 6 Series, BMW 7 Series, BMW X3, BMW X6, Buick Enclave, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Cavalier, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet Colorado, Chevrolet Cruze, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Chevrolet S-10, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Chevrolet Venture, Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Dart, Dodge Durango, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Intrepid, Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Stratus, Ford Expedition, Ford Explorer, Ford F-150, Ford Freestar, Ford Fusion, Ford Mustang, Ford Ranger, Ford Taurus, GMC Envoy, Honda Accord, Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Azera, Hyundai Entourage, Hyundai Equus, Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Sonata, Hyundai Veracruz, Infiniti QX80, Jeep Commander, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Kia Amanti, Kia Cadenza, Kia Optima, Kia Sedona, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus GS, Lincoln Continental, Lincoln Navigator, Mazda CX-7, Mazda CX-9, Mazda Mazda3, Mazda Mazda5, Mazda Mazda6, Mazda MPV, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mitsubishi Endeavor, Mitsubishi Galant, Mitsubishi Lancer, Mitsubishi Montero, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Altima, Nissan Armada, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Pathfinder, Nissan Quest, Nissan Sentra, Saab 9-3, Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Subaru Tribeca, Suzuki Equator, Suzuki Kizashi, Suzuki Verona, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Camry, Toyota Camry Solara, Toyota Corolla, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota Prius, Toyota Tacoma, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Touareg.

10x30 Car Storage:

Very few automobile models will require a 10x30 storage unit, though a 10x20 will be a tight fit for a number of the largest trucks and vans. However, if you’re planning on storing anything else in your unit in addition to your car, it’s likely you’ll need to move up to the next size, particularly if your vehicle is larger to begin with. A 10x30 storage unit will allow you to comfortably store a car alongside plenty of other possessions, including furniture and large appliances.

With vehicles of this size, height can be a consideration in addition to length. Storage units typically have a ceiling between 8' to 10' tall, and many of the factory models of these vehicles reach nearly 7', so if you've put your truck on larger wheels or on a lift kit it may be too tall for some storage units.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: Audi A8, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Express 1500, Chevrolet Express 2500, Chevrolet Express 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD, Chevrolet Suburban 1500, Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Dakota, Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Ram 2500, Dodge Ram 3500, Dodge Sprinter Van 3500, Ford Crown Victoria, Ford E-150, Ford E-350 Super Duty, Ford Excursion, Ford Expedition, Ford Expedition EL, Ford F-150, Ford F-250, Ford F-350, GMC Savanna, GMC Sierra 1500, GMC Sierra 2500HD, GMC Sierra 3500HD, Honda Ridgeline, Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Blackwood, Lincoln Continental, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Lincoln Navigator, Lincoln Navigator L, Lincoln Town Car, Mitsubishi Raider, Nissan Armada, Nissan Frontier, Nissan NV Cargo, Nissan Titan, Suzuki Equator, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Tundra.

10x30 car storage

Preparing Your Car for Storage

Parking your car in storage without any preparation is a bad idea no matter what type of storage you’re renting. Doing so will almost certainly cause issues with the vehicle that will be expensive to repair down the line. Following these steps will help ensure your car comes out of storage in the same condition it was when you left it.

1. Change the oil, filter, brake fluid and coolant. Engine oil contains contaminants that, if not changed frequently enough, can damage the engine. The rest of these chemicals can cause the parts that use them to corrode or oxidize.

2. Fill your gas tank. Gasoline will absorb the moisture in your tank that would otherwise accumulate and cause the tank to rust. It will also prevent the tank’s seals from drying out. If you’re storing your car for several months or longer, use a fuel stabilizer. Fuel stabilizers prevent gas from deteriorating and are effective for about one year.

3. Disconnect the battery. Cars drain their battery even when the engine is off, and you don't want to have to replace the battery once you retrieve your car from storage. If possible, try to drive the car for 15 minutes every two weeks, which will help maintain the battery and keep your car’s components lubricated. If you’re unable to do so, disconnect the battery. You won’t need to entirely remove the battery from the vehicle, just disconnect the negative battery cable. If you do want to keep the car battery charged in your absence for a long period of time and you’ve rented a storage unit with electrical access, use a trickle charger. This will connect your car battery to an electrical outlet and send a trickle of energy through to the battery--just enough to keep it charged.

4. Take care of your tires. If your car sits on its tires in the same position over a long period of time, your tires will develop flat spots and require replacement. This is particularly an issue if the storage location experiences cold temperatures. Once again, if you’re able to drive the vehicle for about 15 minutes every few weeks, this is less of a worry.

The most basic precaution you can take to prevent flat spots from developing is getting your tires rotated and over-inflated. However, over the long term this won’t do for protection. In long-term cases, it’s a good idea to raise your car up on jack stands, removing the wheels if possible.

5. Remove your windshield wipers. The rubber on your windshield wipers can start to stick to your windshield, leaving hard-to-remove residue. One way to prevent this is by placing a plastic cover between the windshield and wipers. But the ideal is to remove the wipers entirely.

6. Prevent dust, dirt, and unwanted guests from getting inside. Dust and dirt can muck up your car’s components, while pests like rodents and insects can wreak havoc inside. The best way to prevent the outside from getting inside your car is to use a car cover. At the very least, you should try to plug any openings, particularly your tailpipe. If you’re particularly concerned with keeping your car in top condition and are renting an interior car storage unit with electrical access, consider a car storage bubble. These devices use a small electric fan to inflate a clear plastic capsule that envelopes the car, offering unparalleled protection for your vehicle, and are commonly used for the storage of exotic and collector cars.

7. Release your parking brake. If you leave your parking brake pads on for too long, they can fuse with the rotors. While it may sound like a good idea to engage your parking brake while storing the vehicle for a long period of time, the threat of fusion outweighs any added safety. Stick chocks under the wheels (if you left the wheels on) instead—these prevent movement better than the parking brake does.

Preparing Your Car for Outdoor Storage

Since the elements can put a great amount of wear and tear on your vehicle, particularly if you’ll be leaving it unused out in the open for a long period of time, there are a few extra precautions you’ll need to take to protect your car when storing it outside.

The two greatest dangers to storing your car outside are sunlight and precipitation. The former can cause damage to paint and tires, while the latter can cause parts of your car to corrode. The single greatest way to protect your car when storing it outside is to buy a high-quality car cover. Make sure the cover accounts for moisture, preferably by incorporating ventilation or by using a wicking “dri-fit” material, as covers that trap in moisture can actually cause more damage to your vehicle. Though the best of these won’t come cheap, it’s likely that they’ll save you money in the long run by preventing the wear and tear that can lead to steep repair bills down the line. If you decide against using a car cover, there are a few other measures you can take to protect your car from the elements.

With outdoor car storage, the sun can damage the car’s paint, causing it to fade over time. One way to protect against the sun is by waxing it, which will act as a protective coating against the sun as well as dirt and dust. Auto parts stores sell paint protection film kits that you can use to protect areas that receive a lot of direct sunlight, like the hood. Protective film is also useful for covering your headlights, whose acrylic material can yellow in the sun. Keep in mind that your car’s paint isn’t just there for aesthetic purposes, but serves an important function as well: protecting the aluminum body of your car from rust. Losing the paint on your car can damage the body which can be much more expensive to fix.

Direct sunlight over a long period of time will cause your tires to crack and lose their elasticity, making them dangerous to drive on. The best way to prevent sun damage to your tires is by keeping them covered and out of the sun.

If there’s already damage to your paint, you’ll want to touch that up before you store your car outside for a long period of time. Any scratches or pits, particularly any that have reached bare metal, are likely to worsen under pressure from the elements, and your car can begin to develop patches of rust.

Taking Your Car out of Storage

Not only is it extremely dangerous to drive your car once out of storage without checking it thoroughly, it can also worsen damage that might have occurred. A single instance of neglect can lead to extensive and costly repairs. Here are a few things you should look over before taking your car back out on the road:

1. Clean your car out, wiping dirt and dust off of important components. Check for evidence of pests—you don’t want to start your car up with a mouse in the exhaust pipe.

2. Check fluids and make sure they’re at the adequate level and appear to be in a good condition. Refill anything that appears low.

3. Check over the rubber parts of your vehicle for any cracks. Tires and windshield wipers are particularly vulnerable.

4. Check tire pressure and look over tires for flat spots.

5. Reattach your battery and see if you can start your car.

6. Allow the car to run for a few minutes to make sure that everything is functioning smoothly.

7. Slowly drive your car around the storage facility. Test out the brakes. Your brakes may have accumulated rust, and unless the damage is extreme that rust should wear away after a bit of use.

8. Be cautious in your driving after long-term storage, taking things slow and easy. Be especially attentive to any signs of damage during the few days of driving.



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