Tips for Winter Car Storage

In many parts of the Midwest and Northeastern United States, many people own cars that they only use in the summer. When the warm weather winds down, they need to find a way to store their summer vehicle safely until the following year. People also need to store their cars when they go on extended vacations or leave the country for a stint working overseas.

Why can’t you just leave a car parked?

According to the automotive experts at Rockland Chrysler Jeep Dodge, cars, like other machines containing moving parts, do not take well to disuse. One of the main areas of concern is that internal parts lose lubrication and jam up. The best way to store a car would actually be to not store it at all — you should either drive the car for a few minutes each week or have someone do it for you. Your car will be in great shape when you come back. If you can’t manage this, careful storage is the only alternative.

Here are several tips that show you what you need to do.

Clean it well

It might seem like a waste of time to clean a car and wax it before you put it away. This is a necessary step, though, because when paintwork remains in contact contaminants such as water salts or bird droppings for months, it corrodes. You should clean up every part of your car before storing it.

Freshen up all fluids

Every car manual reminds owners to get an oil change done before beginning long-term storage. If the engine contains old oil, contaminants in it may corrode the engine. You should also top off the fuel tank to make sure that there is no room for moisture condensation and add in a product like Sta-Bil — it helps protect the engine and fuel system from rust and from standing fuel. It also makes sure that the fuel doesn’t deteriorate.

Take care of the battery

The charge in your car’s battery will not last more than a month in storage. You should buy a trickle charger, plug it into a wall outlet and connect it to the battery keep it charged up.

Disengage the parking brake

If you leave the parking brake engaged for weeks, the brake pads can fuse with the rotors. You should find another way of keeping the car from moving.

Mind the tires

If you are going away for any more than 30 days, you should get jack stands and take the tires off. If you don’t take this necessary step, you’ll come back and find your tires in a withered heap on the floor. Prolonged storage in this manner can result in the wheels getting flat spots and going out of round.

Keep pests out

Rats tend to be a real threat to stored cars. The go into car exhaust system, chew on wires and build their nests under the hood. There is no completely reliable way of keeping rats away from a car in storage. According to automotive site Edmunds.com, your best bet is to wrap the car up well in plastic and place mouse traps and mothballs all around.

Once you’re ready

If you do a thorough job storing your car the right way, you’ll have very little work to do when summer comes ‘round again. You’ll simply need to put tires on again, wash your car and drive away.

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