Once again, it is that time of the year when the kids are going back to school, the leafs are turning brown, and your favourite ride has given you another summer of fun and enjoyment. Whether you are driving an older classic like a ‘67 Mustang, or a new Vette, it is critical that you consider proper storage procedures before you place your ride in winter storage.
The following is a general guideline for proper car storage. However, given the present complexity of today’s vehicles, please consult your owners’ manual for specific information on extended storage applicable to your specific vehicle.
1) Change the engine oil, filter, and lube the chassis. This is basic maintenance and is just good common sense for the prolonged car storage of your ride.
2) Top off the fuel tank with fresh premium gas, and use a fuel stabilizer. By topping off the tank, water condensation will be minimized, and the addition of the fuel stabilizer will extend the gasoline use expectancy from 60 days to a year. Todays’ gasoline molecules break down after 60 days, and if not treated can gum up injectors, carburetors, and fuel lines. Standard over the counter fuel stabilizers can be used to maintain a clean and well running car once your car is taken out of storage.
3) Fluids such as brake fluid, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid, and coolant must be filled to recommended levels. If the coolant or transmission fluids have not been replaced in a long time, this would be a good time to replace either one or both.
4) Inflate tires to specified maximum values. By over inflating the tires, flat spots in the tires can be prevented due to prolonged car storage. Further efforts to minimize flat spots in tires would be to jack up the car and rest it on axle jack stands. Not only will this prevent flat spots in tires, but it will also alleviate the load on hubs and wheel bearings.
5) Wash the car and wax it before storage. Not only will a clean car look good, but it will prevent the attraction of insects and small animals. Make sure the interior is well vacuumed and void of any food sources. Pressure wash the underside of the car, as this will minimize rusting and extend the life of your car.
6) Install a sheet of plastic under the car to prevent moisture from migrating into the vehicle. Consider storing the car in a heated space, as this will prevent or minimize water vapour issues and problems such as rust or musty odours. Another benefit of using plastic under your car during storage is it will easily allow you to find and locate any sources of fluid leaks.
7) Crack open the windows and insert a folded cotton towel into the window crack to prevent any insect infiltration, but allowing some form of air circulation into the stored vehicle. Also consider stuffing rags into the intake and exhaust of the vehicle to prevent small animals from nesting.
8) Remove the car battery and plug it into a battery maintainer. For modern cars, check with the manufacturer for the proper battery removal procedure. Items such as on-board computers, access codes for the alarm, stereo, navigation, and security systems must be considered and addressed before prolonged battery removal.
9) Remove the rubber on the viper blades to prevent the rubber from sticking to the windshield. Pad the metal blades with a soft cloth so they do not scratch the glass. If the blades have a “pop-up” feature, flip them into the up position so they do not come in contact with the windshield.
10) Remove the engine spark plugs and spray fogging lubricant into the cylinders as per product and car manual instructions. Re-install the spark plugs, using die-electric grease on the lead contact / plug connection for easier lead removal in the future. If you feel uncomfortable with this mechanical procedure, you can purchase special oil additives at automotive stores that will lubricate the cylinders and valve train for the sole purpose of vehicle storage.
11) Do not use the parking brake during storage. The brake pads can adhere to the rotors or drums over a long period of time and may require servicing after prolonged parking brake engagement. Use wheel chocks instead to prevent the car from rolling.
12) Make a list of all the items than must be addressed before starting the car and place it on the seat or steering wheel. This will prevent any accidental oversight before starting the car. Forgetting a rag in the intake or exhaust could easily damage your cherished ride.
13) The use of an automobile cover is recommended only for outside storage. Make sure it is of high quality, as loose or multi purpose car covers can flap in the wind, causing scratches to the paint of your car. For interior storage, covers are not recommended since they will prevent moisture to escape from the car.
Finally, if the lower mainland is getting the best of you during the winter months, try to escape to a sunny destination for a few weeks, so when rain turns to sunshine during Spring, you can get your vehicle out of storage and enjoy it once again.