How to Store a Car Long-Term

Vehicles are expensive investments, so it makes sense to put some time and energy into storing your car properly when you’re going to be away.

If you’re going on a week-long vacation, the steps you’ll need to take will be very different than if you’re leaving for a month or a year. Maybe you aren’t even going away, but you live in a city where you only use your car a few times a year and you want to store it safely.

No matter your reasoning, simply parking a car and walking away for a few months is going to cause you a headache down the road.

What should you do to store a car long-term? Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

What Are Reasons You Might Need Long-Term Car Storage?

There are a lot of different reasons you might need to store a car.

Maybe you have a convertible that you only use in the summer and you need a place to keep it safe in the colder months. People who have sports cars or vintage cars might put their cars in storage when not in use to protect their investment and keep it drive-ready when the temperature warms up.

Others might store a car if they are going on an extended vacation or a long business trip. Storing your car can help ensure that it is protected from the elements or prying eyes.

If your child is heading off to college, maybe you want to keep the vehicle they won’t be needing during the semester in a safe spot.

No matter the reason that you are looking for long-term car storage, storing your car at a professional facility rather than a driveway, street, or garage certainly has its benefits. Without putting it in storage, you might come home to a dead battery, ruined tires, a damaged engine, or even critters nesting underneath your hood.

How Do You Store a Car When Not in Use?

When you aren’t using a vehicle, there are a number of things you’ll want to do before you store a car. A garage can be a suitable place for a car so long as you take some necessary precautions. If this isn’t an option, finding a storage facility that meets your needs is the best option.

If you absolutely have to leave your car outdoors for an extended period of time, you’ll want to get a weatherproof car cover. This can help to protect your car from the elements.

Learning how to store a car can be a bit of a chore, but it’ll be worth it when your car isn’t damaged on the other side.

GET IT CLEAN

You might not think it makes sense to get your car all cleaned up before your prepping a car for long term storage, but that’s exactly what you should do. The exterior of your car can get damaged over time if water stains or bird droppings are left on the paint. You’ll want to get any grease, tar, or mud off of the undersides of the fenders and the wheels.

You can add another layer of protection by waxing your car before storing it.

Give the interior a good vacuum, dusting, and wipe down as well. Put a protectant on leather seats to help prevent cracking that can be caused by temperature fluctuations. Make sure you get rid of any perishables from compartments or the glove box, and cover the vents to prevent critters from getting in.

CHANGE THE OIL

Oil that sits for too long can damage the components of your engine. If your vehicle is going to be in storage for at least several months, you’ll want to change the oil again once you remove it from storage.

FILL THE TANK

An important aspect of how to store a car is to protect your gas tank.

Your gas tank can rust if it’s left empty. Filling the tank with fuel can prevent this from happening. If you’re storing the car for several months, you’ll need to drain and replace the gas when you’re ready to use it again.

ADD STABILIZER IF YOU’RE STORING IT FOR MORE THAN TWO MONTHS

Adding a fuel stabilizer can help to prevent corrosion and rust when you store a car. If you’re going to be storing your vehicle for more than two months, it’s a good idea to add a stabilizer to your tank.

TAKE CARE OF THE BATTERY

One important part of how to store a car long term is making sure you take care of the battery.

Your battery can drain and die when you let a vehicle sit for too long. You can have someone start your car for you and run it for about 15 minutes every two weeks. It’s also good for the car to be driven periodically.

If this isn’t possible, you can disconnect the negative battery cable. This can cause you to lose some pre-programmed settings on your radio and dash.

You can also buy a battery tender that hooks up your battery and keeps it from discharging.

Are you worried about your big move to a colder climate and its possible effects on your car? If so, check out our article on what you should know before you go.

DON’T USE THE PARKING BRAKE

When you’re putting your car in storage, you don’t want to use the parking brake. This is because the brake pads and rotors can fuse if they’re making contact for too long. You can instead buy a chock or tire stopper so that the vehicle doesn’t move.

PROTECT THE ENGINE CYLINDERS

One thing people might overlook when learning how to store a car is how to protect the engine cylinders.

Your engine block can rust if you don’t take precautions when prepping a car for long term storage. To do this, you can remove the spark plugs and spray oil into the cylinders before replacing the spark plugs. A mechanic can do this for you if this is out of your wheelhouse.

WRAP THE WIPER BLADES

If you leave the wiper blades unwrapped, they can stick to the glass of your windshield over time. Put some plastic wrap underneath each blade or remove the blades altogether. You can also just pull the blades to the “out” position.

PLUG THE EXHAUST OUTLET

The last thing you want is for any creepy crawlers to make their home in your car. When readying a car for long term storage, you can stuff a rag or aluminum foil in the exhaust to prevent them from climbing into your car. You’ll want to block up any other openings as well.

Be sure to remove these plugs before you restart your car, though.

PARK ON A TARP

Parking on a tarp can help protect the tires from oils and other elements from the ground. It can also protect the floor if any vehicle leaks happen during long term vehicle storage.

What Is the Best Way to Store a Car?

You have a number of options when it comes to places you can store your car.

One popular option is using a storage unit. While this isn’t the cheapest option, storage units can be relatively affordable. They also have the added benefit of potentially being climate-controlled and definitely being fairly safe and secure.

Another option is a long term car storage company. These can be more practical than storage units, as you can easily drive in and they are always being climate-controlled.

Long term car storage facilities are a particularly good choice for luxury or vintage cars.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective option, you can store your car with a family member or friend. They might have some garage space they won’t miss and it can save you a few bucks.

However, there are some downsides to this option. If the garage is high-use, your car could get bumped or dinged along the way. You also want to make sure that they are fairly settled people, and that they won’t end up moving halfway through your agreement.

Long-term parking is another option, but this isn’t the best one for long term car storage. Your car will always be outdoors and exposed to the elements. There is a much higher likelihood that it could get hit by another car or dinged by someone than at a storage facility.

At the same time, this is a pricey option. Leaving your car in a long-term lot can really start to add up over time.

What Should I Do to Store My Car For a Long Time?

If you know that you’re going to need to store a car for a long time, you’ll first need to determine which storage option works best for you.

You’ll want to weigh out the benefits and risks of the different options for you. You might choose a different option if your car is a ’99 beater than if it’s a pristine luxury vehicle. Either way, doing some work before you put your car in storage can ensure that you come back to a well-cared and drivable vehicle.

As the weather starts warming up, are you wondering how to take care of your car in the summer heat? Check out our article with 7 of the best summer car care tips.

Should You Store a Car or Ship a Car?

Learning how to store a car long term can be a bit of a job, but if you’re putting your car away for a while it’s worth the effort.

If you’re going to be heading elsewhere in the country for several months, you might be wondering if it makes sense to store a car or ship a car. Shipping a car isn’t necessarily as expensive as you might think. When you factor in the cost of car storage and the cost of renting a car at your new destination, it might be the more viable option.

If you’re thinking about shipping your car, you can get a free quote today!

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