When storing a car for winter it’s important to make sure that your vehicle comes out of storage in the same condition that it went in. Here are some winter car storage tips that should keep your car in good shape for summers to come.
It’s important to make sure that none of the fluids cause damage to the engine. The oil and filter should be changed to ensure that the contaminants in the dirty oil can’t eat away at engine parts. Fill the gas tank with fuel, non-ethanol if possible (as ethanol can absorb water over time). Add some fuel stabilizer to the tank to prevent the fuel from gumming, and then drive the vehicle for 15 or 20 minutes to ensure that the stabilizer has worked its way through the system. Consider flushing the brake fluid, it absorbs water and should be flushed regularly to prevent damage to brake lines and components.
If you are storing your car in a cold environment the antifreeze should be tested to make sure that it won’t freeze. The windshield washer fluid should be replaced with winter fluid for the same reason.
Before storing the car clean both the interior and exterior well. Apply some wax to protect the paint and use dash and leather conditioner to prevent them from drying out and cracking. Lubricate the hinges and weatherstripping with a silicone spray to keep them in good condition.
Consider parking on a plastic sheet to prevent moisture from attacking the bottom of the vehicle. To prevent damage to the tires and keep them from getting flat spots you can move the car once in a while, place the vehicle on jack stands, or increase the tire pressure to the maximum value on the tire’s sidewall. Either way, don’t use the parking brake as it may seize or rust to the drum or disc.
Block the engine’s intake and exhaust and any vents with rags or steel wool to prevent bugs and animals from getting inside the vehicle or engine, but remember to completely remove whatever you use before starting the engine. Place some moth balls and mouse traps near the outside of the carandplace some dryer sheets in the car to help keep mice away and keep the interior smelling fresh. You can place some silica gel in the vehicle to absorb moisture from the air. Consider using a breathable car cover to protect the car’s paint, especially if it is stored outside or in a dirty area.
Once your vehicle is in storage adjust your insurance to possibly save some money and ensure that it is properly covered in case of any accidents. Use a battery maintainer (a float charger, not a regular charger that could overcharge the battery) to keep the battery fully charged and in good shape. If possible start the car every month or so (make sure to temporarily remove any rags or steel wool in the intake and exhaust and that the area is well ventilated so you don’t poison yourself), let it get to operating temperature to burn off any moisture, and run the air conditioner if equipped to keep it lubricated.