Tips For Storing Your Vehicle


There are numerous reasons to store an automobile, i. e. going for a long vacation; being transferred overseas; or to preserve an old classic. If you are storing your vehicle for a couple months or even years, here are recommended procedures for protecting your investment. This advice, carefully followed, will help keep your vehicle in top condition until you need it once again.Storing Your Vehicle

 We have broken down storing your vehicle into three stages:

Stage I: short-term, storage for as much as three months;

Stage II: as long as a year; or

Stage III: indefinitely. These recommendations are useful should you be storing anything operated by an internal combustion motor, like a lawn tractor or snow blower.

Make a record of the items that have been carried out so they can be undone when you need to restore the automobile back to operational condition. Place a duplicate of what has been done on the inside of the driver’s windshield, insuring someone will see how to handle it to restore automobile to operational condition. For restoring back to running condition following Stages II or III: make certain the coolant gets diluted, the fuel is replaced with fresh and the brake fluid is flushed.

  Stage 1 –  Techniques for short term automobile storage, for as much as 3 months.

  1. Fill up the gas tank. A full tank will form much less moisture condensation.
  2. Air up the tires, over inflating them by 2-5 PSI to compensate for air reduction.
  3. Change the oil and filter. Old lubricants become acidic and definitely will etch the soft surfaces of the crank, rod, or cam bearings, so it is essential to store the motor using a fill of clean oil. Once clean oil is installed, be sure to run the automobile long enough to circulate the new oil so that it will replace the old oil. If at all possible, fill with polyolester oil (e. g. Redline) because this kind of lubricant has an affinity to iron and will bond to the cylinder walls maintaining a coat which prevents the metal from oxidizing and rusting.
  4. Cover the vehicle with a top quality car cover or garage it, if at all possible. Note: Using a waterproof cover can trap moisture between the cover and vehicle causing damage to the paint.
  5. Don’t set the parking brake. Use wheel chocks to keep| it in position.
  6. Every 2-4 weeks: Start the motor and run it at a fast idle until the engine warms up enough for the oil to be hot to the touch.
  •  Note: Run it long enough for the exhaust system to get hot because moisture collects inside the muffler and pipes, causing rust. Drive the automobile long enough to warm up the exhaust system and dry it out.
  •  Tip: Drill a 1/32 inch hole inside the lowest part of the muffler to encourage the condensation to drain out. While the engine is running, shift the transmission through every gear. Drive the automobile a short distance (25 feet) to lubricate transmission and axle gears. Operate the A/C (or defroster) for 10 minutes to lubricate the compressor seals.

STAGE 2 – Vehicle storage for approximately one year. Also include all applicable items described in Stage I storage.

  1. Store the vehicle indoors out of the elements. Use a car cover or rent a storage garage. Make sure the cover is form-fitting, soft and breathable, so it won’t flap against the paint and destroy it or trap moisture underneath. The cover keeps dust from settling on your vehicle, will keep kids from playing on it and wildlife from scratching it. The expense of a high quality cover is money well spent. In the event of storing inside, make sure the cover is made for indoor storage.
  2. If the automobile is parked outside, seal off the HVAC intake duct with a piece of plastic to keep leaves out.
  3. If the automobile is parked on the ground, put plastic beneath it to keep ground moisture from rising up into it.
  4. Remove the wipers and place them on the dashboard.
  5. If the automobile is in the sunlight, wrap the seats and dash with old blankets. Place sunshades or cardboard in the windows to prevent the sunlight from shining in.
  6. Protect the tires from direct sunlight. Rubber is very sensitive} to UV light and prolonged exposure will cause tires to crack and split (dry rot) as well as cause premature tire failure.
  7. Thoroughly clean the automobile and have it detailed, if at all possible. Be sure to clean the undercarriage and fender wells, getting rid of all traces of road salt, mud and road contaminants.
    • Note: When cleaning, exercise care if utilizing a high power pressure sprayer on the undercarriage and frame. Water pressure from the sprayer wand may force soap and water through lubrication seals. These seals are made to hold lubricant and are not able to withstand high pressure spray. If detergent is needed, it must be thoroughly rinsed away because detergent is caustic and will damage plastic and rubber parts.
  8. Flush the brake fluid if it is over one year old. On older automobiles (non-ABS), install DOT 5 silicone brake fluid which usually requires no periodic changing.
  9. Change the transmission/transaxle fluid if it is more than 2 years old or has in excess of 36, 000 miles on it.
  10. Install the appropriate type of coolant for the application mixed with 50% distilled water. Distilled water is a must since tap water contains minerals that cause scale buildup. If this is a hardship, use a cooling system corrosion inhibiting additive. Don’t use recycled coolant since it contains minerals.
  11. Disconnect the battery. When it isn’t being used on a regular basis, a battery will gradually self-discharge.
    • Connect a float charger, battery tender, or smart charger to the battery. These chargers turn { off and on as needed and won’t overcharge the battery.
    • Note: Some high-end cars (e. g. BMW, MBZ) can lose their computer programming if left without power for extended periods and will need the battery to be kept connected to a battery charger.
  12. Thoroughly clean the leather, plastic, or vinyl interior and then protect it with a silicone conditioner.
  13. Dry out the inside of the vehicle using a dehumidifier or a 100 watt light bulb. If using an automobile cover, crack the windows at the top to let the interior breathe and avoid a musty odor from developing inside.
  14. Apply a brand new coat of wax to the paint. Chrome and stainless steel exterior parts ought to be left coated with a thick layer of carnauba car wax.
  15. Coat the door, hood and trunk rubber weather-stripping with silicone spray.
  16. Lubricate the key operated mechanism of the door locks with a dry graphite-based cable lube.
  17. Lubricate all latches and also hinges with lithium spray lube grease. Important: Keep oil and solvents off all rubber parts. Spray grease on any linkages, cable levers and clevis pins on the underside of the automobile.
  18. Gas engines: Drain the tank and run the engine until the majority of the fuel is used up. Completely draining the tank doesn’t  stop varnish formation because some fuel is left behind in the fuel system.
    • After siphoning/draining as much gas as possible, add a gallon of white gas. Run the engine for a few minutes to circulate the white gas.
    • White gas evaporates without leaving deposits. If the gas tank can’t be drained, fill it completely and use a fuel stabilizer.
    • A full tank prevents water moisture build-up or condensation from forming in the tank leading to corrosion.
    • Run the engine for a few minutes for the treated gas to circulate throughout the entire fuel system.
  19. Diesel engines: Fill the tank and add a diesel fuel biocide in order to avoid microbes from growing in the fuel tank. Run engine for a few minutes to get treated fuel through the system.
  20. Place rodent poisons inside and under the hood to avoid infestation.
  21. Plug the engine intake duct and the exhaust pipe with steel wool to help keep rodents from creating nests inside.
  22. Put the automobile on jack stands to take the weight off the tires or roll the automobile forward or back every couple of months to prevent flat spots on the tires.
      •  Note: If the stands are on asphalt, place the stands on plywood to stop them from sinking over time.

 STAGE 3 –  Storage for more than a year or indefinitely. Also include all applicable items described in Stage I and Stage II Storage

  1. Take out the spark plugs and squirt a tablespoon of| motor oil into  every cylinder. Crank the engine over to distribute the oil onto the cylinder walls and reinstall the spark plugs. If this is a hardship, Spray STA-BIL Fogging Oil in your air intake keeping the engine running until the engine stalls. Fogging Oil penetrates deep into the engine, coating parts with a protective layer of anticorrosive compound which also lubricates the piston at start-up next spring stopping cylinder scuffing.
  2. If the automobile has V-belts, loosen them.
  3. Take away the battery.
  4. If the automobile isn’t under a cover, place moisture absorption tubs or desiccant tubes in vehicle and trunk to prevent mold growth.
  5. Drain and replenish the cooling system with proper coolant for the application, using 100% coolant. Do not add any water.
  6. Seal the transmission vent tube or air vent with duct tape.
  7. Utilizing a can of spray lithium grease, coat all metal areas of the chassis (springs, suspension, and chassis).
  8. Utilize a pedal jack or cut a stick to the proper size to press on the brake pedal a little. This will cover up the compensating port in the master cylinder, preventing moisture from getting to the wheel cylinders and/or calipers. Back off on the drum brake adjusters until the shoes aren’t coming in contact with the drum.
  9. Set up corrosion-proof brake caliper and coat the brake rotors and brake drums with rust preventative in order to preserve them.
  10. Jack up the automobile and place jack stands underneath the body so the springs can hang free (uncompressed) and also the tires won’t develop flat spots.
  11. Deflate the tires and cover them to protect from damaging UV rays from sunlight.

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