How to Properly Prepare Your Car For Storage

Al Harris
March 21, 2022
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Storing a car for six months or more? You’re going to need to do some preparation.

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The first question you might have is…

Can You Store a Car in a Storage Unit?

For the most part yes, as long as your vehicle fits inside and can access the unit. Some facilities might not allow car storage, so you might need to call and confirm that vehicle storage is allowed.

How Much Does it Cost to Store a Car?

A 10×15 unit rents on average for around $80 a month. That is the starting size for units big enough to store a car. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you may need a 10×20 or 10×30 unit or larger for storing an RV.

Thinking about storing your car for a while? Here are some car storage tips you’ll want to follow to make sure your car is road ready.

Car Storage Tip #1: Wash and Detail

Before putting your vehicle in storage, make sure to wash the exterior and thoroughly clean the interior. Left over food debris inside could attract pests. Dirt and grime on the exterior can slowly damage your vehicle paint job. If you care enough about your car to store it, take the time and effort to give it a nice bath!

Car Storage Tip #2: Get an Oil Change

Make sure to change the engine oil. Letting used oil sit in your engine for a prolonged period of time can gunk up your engine. Get an oil change before storing your car for a longtime to keep your motor in tip top shape. You’ll want to take your car to the shop for an oil change to make sure the old oil is properly disposed of.

Car Storage Tip #3: Replace Air Filters and Coolant

It is a good time to go ahead and replace all of your filters and fluids before storing your vehicle for the long term. This way you won’t forget to replace them when you retrieve your vehicle from storage. You can take your car to the shop for this general maintenance or go the DIY route and follow the simple steps to replacing the filters on AutoZone.

Car Storage Tip #4: Fill up Your Gas Tank

Never store your car for a long time without filling up the fuel tank, especially in the winter months. Why? Condensation can build up inside an empty tank. Condensation is moisture that leads to rust. To prevent condensation inside your gas tank, make sure it is full when you store it.

Add a fuel stabilizer to the gas. This will extend the life of the gasoline in your tank for about a year. Good fuel stabilizer costs less than $20, well worth the cost of protecting your car long-term. rates STA-BIL as the best value stabilizer for long-term car storage and costs $5 for a 8 Fl. oz. bottle.

Car Storage Tip #5: Protect Your Tires

When putting your vehicle into storage you’ll want to try and avoid getting flat spots on your tire. The hard concrete floor of a storage unit against the weight of the vehicle will damage tires left in one position for long enough. Here are a few strategies:

  • Over inflate your tires.
  • Use tire blocks or chocks.
  • Remove the tires and store your vehicle on jack stands.
  • Move your car once a month to rotate the tires.

Car Storage Tip #6: Disconnect the Battery

If not driven for a long period of time, your car battery will eventually die. For your car to start up when you are ready to move it out of storage, you’ll want to disconnect your car battery and hook it up to a trickle charger instead. The battery minder will keep your battery charged, but you might need access to an outlet.

You may also remove the battery and store it at home and keep it charged there. Otherwise you better bring another vehicle and a pair of jumper cables with you when you take your car out of storage. Here are the easy steps for safely removing your car’s battery.

Car Storage Tip #7: Plug the Exhaust Pipe

Storage facilities take extra steps to prevent rodents from getting inside storage units, but sometimes pesky critters can get through. To prevent rats and other pests from crawling inside your car you’ll want to stuff the exhaust pipe with some newspaper or an old t-shirt. Just make sure to remove it before starting your car back up!

Car Storage Tip #8: Use a Car Cover

Even if you are storing your car indoors, you’ll want to use a car cover. If you are storing your car outdoors, you’ll want a good car cover. Car covers protect against dust, debris, rain, UV light, and rodents. Car covers range vastly in price but if you plan to store your car indoors you can probably opt for a lower-end (re: cheaper) cover like this $25 cover from Budge on Amazon.

Car Storage Options

When choosing a car storage option, consider how long you’ll be storing your vehicle and the amount of protection you need. Indoor is always best for long-term storage, because prolonged exposure to the elements is the greatest threat to your vehicle. Outdoor storage, whether covered with a canopy or uncovered, is available for a lower price but it better suited for short-term vehicle storage.


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About the SpareFoot Blog

The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
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