Storing a Vehicle Over Winter
Winter salt, sand and grime wreak havoc on a vehicle in a harsh weather prone area. A vehicle left immobile for an entire winter on the street might end up covered with a thick coat of sediment that will slowly find a way into the nooks and spaces of the vehicle, eventually resulting in corrosion. Winter road-salt attacks your vehicle, causing rust and corrosion.
Problems resulting from a vehicle sitting motionless in the elements for an extended period of time are easy to see;
• cracking vinyl dashboards and seats
• faded exterior paint
• rusting body panels
• discoloring interior materials
Other effects may be harder to notice.
• Tire rubber breaks down with time and exposure.
• Brake pads can deteriorate once the vehicle is in motion again.
• Fluids break down and are unable to do their intended job.
Short Term Storage
If storing your vehicle for just a few months then a thorough cleaning, inside and out, before parking it in a secure, fully enclosed building, should be fine.
Long Term and Professional Storage
If you don't have a garage with a sealed concrete floor, then your first step is to find a suitable garage to store your vehicle in. It doesn't need to be heated, but electricity is handy. It does need to be a relatively tidy, secure, fully enclosed building with a clean, sealed concrete floor. Parking your vehicle on a dirt or stone surface or unsealed concrete will allow moisture to reach the under carriage where rust can corrode your vehicle.
Professional storage facilities offer a wide range of options, including climate-controlled areas. Storage space may be rented by unit, square footage, or cubic footage on a daily, monthly, or yearly basis. Advantages of professional storage space include convenience, security, and affordability. Storage facilities often charge a very reasonable fee and offer discounts for longer rental terms.
Proper Pre-Storage Maintenance
Preparing a vehicle for an extended hibernation might save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Tools and Supplies:
• metric/imperial socket set
• metric/imperial wrench set
• floor jack
• 4 x jack stands
• plastic sheet- large enough to envelop the lower half of your vehicle. • car cover
• battery tender
• engine oil
• antifreeze & distilled water
• brake fluid
• steel wool
• car wax
• fuel system stabilizer
One of the best ways of preventing the interior destruction of the engine is by making sure all of the fluids are fresh and full.
• engine coolant
• engine oil
• hydraulic clutch
• hydraulic brake
• windshield washer
Fuel Stabilizer- Purchase a fuel stabilizer to prevent gasoline breakdown and keep the tank full to keep out extra airspace. Airspace can lead to moisture and rust and fuel breakdown causes damage to the engine and fuel lines.
Fuel Pump- Relieve the pressure from the fuel system by starting the car and then disconnecting the fuel-pump wiring harness. The car should sputter and die indicating there is no longer pressure in the fuel line.
Spark Plugs- Take out the spark plugs and line the cylinder housings with oil to prevent corrosion.
Oil- Change the oil and oil filter. Old oil has byproducts and acids that cause damage to your engine.
Battery- Take the battery out and clean all of the connections.
Raise It Up- Jack up the vehicle on a jack stand and add about 10 pounds of pressure to each tire to prevent flat spots.
Tail Pipe- Plug the tail-pipe with steel wool. This will prevent rodents from using your exhaust system as a winter home. Depending on your vehicle's intake system, plug any remaining orifices with steel wool.
Wash and Wax- A good washing and waxing prior to storage will add extra durability to the paint job. Wash and wax the outside of your vehicle. Pay special attention to the under carriage. Make sure there's no dirt, mud, snow, ice or salt from the roads on the frame, or in the wheel wells. To properly store your vehicle, clean out the inside as well. Remove personal items and sweep out food scraps so they can't turn moldy and rancid or attract unwanted rodents and bugs.
Wipers- Take the wipers off so they do not become permanently attached to the windshield.
Car Cover- The last step will be to cover the car with your car cover. The ideal car cover for garage storage is a permeable material that breathes, is not a plastic tarp and is heavy. There are a large number of car covers available.