Not everyone has the luxury of driving their pride and joy 12 months out of the year. For those who have to regularly make use of a winter car storage facility - whether that be their own garage, a space rented at a local storage lot, or a dedicated parking garage where your automobile won't be disturbed - it helps to know that there are few things you can do to make the period without your baby that much easier.
We've put together a quick list of the top five winter car storage tips that will make sure your vehicle looks as good as new when you crack open the garage door in the spring and bring it back to life.
When left for a long period of time gasoline can separate into its component chemicals, which can make for a gummy mess in your tank that has the potential to clog carburetors, fuel pumps, and injectors when you fire up your engine in the spring. Fortunately, it's easy to prevent this from happening by adding a bottle of inexpensive fuel stabilizer to your gas tank just before you store it for the winter. Not only should you add fuel stabilizer if your car is going to be sitting for six months or more, but you should also make sure to top up prior to parking, as this prevents corrosive moisture from accumulating inside the tank while your car sits.
A dirty car is one that attracts mice and other vermin, so make sure to clean out any little bits of food or other organic material from inside your car prior to putting it into storage. It's also a good idea to clean the outside thoroughly - a full clay and polish job - to remove contaminants from the finish that could damage the paint if left to sit on it for months at a time. Finally, add a layer of wax to help protect the car's finish from any accidental scratching or abrasions that could occur in the storage facility. This also keeps whatever's in the air where you store your vehicle from oxidizing with the paint over time.
Incidentally, another great way to keep mice and squirrels from building nests in your car is to block your air intake and exhaust pipes with steel wool, which they can't chew through. You might want to consider doing the same thing with your climate control vents.
A good car cover is an important part of your winter car storage arsenal. If you are storing your automobile in a garage that people will be in and out of during the course of the season, it's easy enough for your vehicle to become part of the scenery and suffer from accidental bumps, spills, or items being dropped on it. A car cover can help add a further layer of protection to your vehicle, cushioning it from the carelessness of others. It also keeps dirt and dust off of your paint, and provides a further barrier against the unwanted intrusion of small mammals.
You'll hear plenty of folk wisdom about the need to start up a stored car from time to time to keep the engine in good shape, but in reality this practice can actually damage your vehicle's motor. After a car has sat for a long period of time most if not all of the oil has drained from the rotating assembly, which means that starting it up ensures metal on metal action for at least a few moments. Draining and starting repeatedly over the course of a winter is a recipe for internal damage to your motor. On top of this, the moisture that is generated during short periods of idling doesn't have a chance to dissipate like it does were you to actually drive the car for a long distance, and this can create a corrosion issue the more times it happens in a single season. Your best bet is to leave the vehicle alone once it has been parked.
When you go to start your car in the spring, anticipating a fine day of motoring, the last thing you want to hear are the sounds of silence because of a dead battery. An electronic trickle charger - one that can provide a float charge that will keep a battery from dying without damaging it by overcharging - is an inexpensive investment that will keep your battery healthy without having to remove it from your car. Simply connect the wires, close the hood, and plug it into the wall. It's that easy, and much less embarrassing than a jump-start.