Many of us will have to put our vehicles into long-term storage. Whether because of a pandemic, a military deployment, an extended vacation or simply a busy schedule, if you let your car sit for too long it will develop problems.
Taking the time to prepare your vehicle for storage can help prevent these issues. Here are four simple steps to take:
1. Keep it Clean
One of the most important things you can do to keep your car in great shape is to make sure that it’s clean on a regular basis. This means cleaning out the interior of the vehicle, from the floor mats to the seats, and even the glove box and cup holders. You can use a basic all-purpose cleaner to get the job done, but it’s also helpful to have some specific tools on hand for those hard-to-reach spots.
For example, a spongy painting brush is perfect for scrubbing away dirt and grime from the dashboard, vents and other tight spaces. And a set of pre-moistened wipes is always useful for quick and easy rubdowns on the steering wheel, dashboard, glove compartment and other surfaces.
It’s also helpful to take out the trash frequently, as well as regularly empty the trunk and restock any items that are running low (such as water, food or emergency supplies). This helps to cut down on the amount of garbage that builds up inside your car, and it also makes for a much more pleasant driving experience.
Another way to keep the interior of your vehicle looking and smelling nice is to have an air freshener in the vehicle at all times. There are a variety of different options available, including ones that dangle from the rearview mirror and those you can hang in the cup holders. Some of them even double as a window squeegee, which can be extremely handy for getting those stubborn streaks off the windshield.
Lastly, it’s important to treat spills and stains right away as they occur. This can save you a lot of headaches down the line, and it will help to prevent stains from becoming permanent. A spray solution such as CLR Stain Magnet is a good option to keep in your trunk organizer, along with an auto putty that can handle those tougher jobs.
Of course, the easiest way to keep your car in tip-top shape is not to eat in it! But for anyone who has to eat in their vehicle on occasion, keeping a small container that can catch crumbs can make all the difference.
2. Keep it Fueled
The best way to keep your car running smoothly is to stick to the maintenance schedule set out in your owner’s manual. Regular oil changes and fluid replacements help to prevent problems down the road. However, it’s also important to check your vehicle before putting it into long-term storage to ensure that all of the fluids are at their proper levels. Low fluids can cause damage to your engine and other parts of the car if left unchecked for a long period of time.
It is especially important to check your vehicle’s coolant (which is the same as antifreeze) before storing it for a long period of time. Over time, coolant can degrade to the point of causing engine or radiator damage. A 50/50 mixture of coolant and water is typically recommended. If you’re unsure of what type of coolant your car needs, consult with a professional to be certain that you’re using the right kind.
Another vital step in preparing your car for storage is to make sure that the fuel tank is full and that it has been treated with a fuel additive. Fuel additives can help to prevent the formation of gummy deposits in your fuel system, which can lead to engine performance issues or even complete failure.
In addition, be sure to top off the other fluids in your car before putting it into storage, including wiper fluid and brake fluid. Filling all of the tanks will prevent condensation from forming inside them, which can damage your vehicle’s system. You should also ensure that your tire pressures are at the appropriate level, as overly-inflated tires can lead to flat spots.
Finally, it’s important to remember that your warning lights and alerts are there for a reason. Pay attention to them, as they will often let you know if something is wrong before it becomes a major problem. If you aren’t sure what a specific warning light or alert means, do some research online or consult with a professional.
3. Keep it Tired
Whether it’s because of pandemics, summer downtime, travel or other reasons, there are many times when your car will be sitting idle for long periods. This can cause problems that you may not notice right away. However, if you take the proper steps to maintain your car while it’s in storage, you can save yourself money and headaches when you want to use it again.
Tires are one of the most essential parts of any vehicle. They are what connect the vehicle to the road, and they provide all of the car’s handling, acceleration, braking and fuel efficiency. They also play an important role in keeping you safe on the road.
When tires aren’t used for a long time, they can develop flat spots that make them less likely to be able to support the weight of a vehicle. The best way to prevent this is to move the car periodically, even if just a few inches, so that the weight is being distributed across the whole surface of the tire. You can also try using tire cushions, or “tire savers,” while your vehicle is parked for extended periods of time.
In addition to regular rotation, it’s a good idea to keep the air pressure in your tires up to the recommended level. Over time, an under-inflated tire will wear more quickly than a properly inflated one, and you’ll have to replace it sooner.
It’s also a good idea to get your tires professionally rotated every 5,000 miles. The technicians at your local auto service center will move the tires from their original positions to other locations on the vehicle, letting the drive wheels (front or back) rest for a while so they don’t wear out as fast.
By following these simple tips, you can help your car last longer and run better. The key is to catch problems early, like a check engine light or new noises, so that they don’t get worse. After all, nipping issues in the bud today could save you thousands of dollars down the line. So don’t put off that check engine light or ignore those strange rattles – your car will thank you for it in the long run.
4. Keep it in the Garage
Most people know that if they want their cars to last, it’s important to keep them in the garage. This protects them from the elements, preserving their structural integrity and aesthetics as well as helping them maintain their resale value. But, that’s not always an option for various reasons. It may be a lack of space, the inability to secure a garage due to an apartment complex policy, or even just a busy lifestyle that means your car is going to have to spend long periods of time on the street. A good alternative option is to visit the Modern Steel Buildings’ website and purchase a carport or a shed.
Leaving your car on the street for a month or more can lead to body damage, battery problems, tire issues and much more. So, if you’re going to have to leave your car out, there are some steps you should take.
First, make sure your garage is properly cleaned. Keeping the floors and walls of your garage clean can help prevent the buildup of mold, mildew and other things that can ruin your car’s paint job. Using a good dehumidifier is another way to help prevent moisture inside your garage.
Be sure to wash your car regularly as well, especially before winter. This will ensure that any road salt and chemicals don’t eat away at your car’s metal underneath. Additionally, a simple rinse and wax will do wonders for the exterior of your car during the winter months.
Finally, make sure to keep your garage clear of any items that could attract rodents such as paper, cardboard, old candy wrappers and forgotten fast food bags. You can also use steel wool or mesh to cover any hidey-holes that mice could use to crawl in and chew on your car’s exhaust pipe, air intake or other areas.
By following these tips, you can be sure that your car will be able to stand the test of time and look as good as new when you’re ready to drive again! And if you need any additional tips or have any questions, check out the Car Care Council’s free online Car Care Guide. They’ve helped over three million drivers, so they’re a great resource to help you get the most out of your car’s lifespan.