Winter Car Storage Checklist

snowcarShort Term Storage

If your car is to be stored for shorter periods of time, for example 2 to 6 weeks, then the list of things to do to protect it is relatively short.

-It would be wise to start and run the car at least once a week, preferably around the block to warm and circulate the fluids in the engine, transmission and differential. This also allows the brakes to move and will relocate the tires to a new spot.  Since a very large part of engine wear happens on start up when oil has drained away from moving parts, the more often the car starts the more likely it is that parts will have a film of lubrication left on them.

-Changing to synthetic oil is a good plan, as it tends to provide better protection to your engine.  The extra cost is worth it.

-Another good idea is to invest in a battery trickle charger. These little chargers have auto-shutoff circuits so they will not overcharge the battery but will prevent total discharge of the cells, which will shorten the life of the battery by a large margin.

Long  Term Storage

Long term is considered about 6 weeks and longer with the car not running.  For long-term storage you should consider the following:

  • Exterior – Wash and wax the exterior prior to storage.
  • Interior – Clean the interior. Place a desiccant and/or heat source (such as a trouble light) in the car to keep humidity low. However, the heat also attracts rodents.
  • Rodent repellants – Rodents seem to love to take up residence in stored cars and can cause serious damage. Ultrasonic repellers seem to help keep rodents away. Insects are also pests that can cause damage. Check with a local pest control expert for advice.
  • Wheels off ground – Take the load off the tires and suspension by putting the car up on jack stands. The emergency brake should be off and the car in Neutral for standard transmissions and Park for automatics.
  • Oil change – use a fresh filter and oil to remove corrosive elementssparkplugs
  • Oil the cylinders – Pull the spark plug from each cylinder and squirt a teaspoon of oil into each of them. It is important to check with the manufacturer for the proper procedures to turn the engine over without damaging the ignition system or injuring yourself! After oiling loosely refit the spark plugs.
    • Before trying to start the engine again, remove the plugs and turn the engine over several times to distribute the oil again, and then install the plugs and start the motor. Again, ensure you follow the proper procedures as severe injury can result from the high voltage systems in newer car ignitions
  • Battery – disconnect the negative battery cable and connect a battery tender to keep the battery fully charged.
  • Car cover – There are dozens of car covers on the market. Purchase one only after reading what they protect against. Some are only for UV protection and may not be waterproof. Others may trap moisture and promote rust and corrosion.
  • Vacuum seals – These are the ultimate car covers that seal the car from the outside world. Check the claims and guarantee carefully to see if they are right for your situation.

Following these steps will help your pride-and-joy roll smoothly out of the garage and back on the streets. (more…)