If you’re planning to store your car, for example, because you’ll be away on a vacation or business trip, you should take several precautions to ensure that the car will still be in good condition when you drive it out of the storage facility.
Make sure you give your car’s exterior a good wash and wax. If you don’t, any residual dirt left on the car when it goes into storage may corrode the paint and turn into rust damage.
Inflate the tires to 10 psi below the manufacturer’s recommendation, and expect the wheels to have a “flat” spot for a few kilometres after being stored. Don’t worry though – they should round themselves out after about 15 kilometres of driving. To avoid flat spots, you may also choose to jack your car slightly off the ground.
Of course, any convertible should have its top put up before being put into storage. In addition, it’s a good idea to stuff the exhaust pipe and any other air intakes with some thin cloth and then cover with a fine mesh. This will stop any small animals from nesting there. Some suggest using strong-smelling chemicals like mothballs to keep pests away. However, we advise against this because it can leave an unpleasant smell in the car.
It’s best either to remove your wiper blades or wrap them in some clear plastic wrap. This will prevent the rubber of the blades getting stuck to the glass. Some choose simply to move their wiper blades to the “out” position, but especially if a vehicle will be stored outdoors, it’s possible that the blades will be blown or accidentally moved back down. If you choose to remove the blades altogether, consider putting a soft coating on the wiper arms to ensure that once they’re put back on, they won’t scratch your windshield.
Give the inside of the car a thorough clean; any food left inside the car may attract animals, rot, and leave a nasty smell in the car. Also, consider removing carpets from the car. These may become musty, causing an unpleasant smell.
Don’t leave the handbrake on, or, if you drive an automatic, don’t leave the car stationary in “park” gear. This can cause the brake pads to rust to the rotor drum, making the wheel seize when you next drive the vehicle. Rather use a set of wheel chocks to keep the vehicle in place.
Under the hood
Top up all your fluids – oil, petrol, fuel stabilizer if needed, coolant and water.
It’s a good idea to change your oil filter. Old oil can become acidic and may eat away at the inside of your engine. Fresh oil won’t degrade as quickly or as much, leaving your engine seals in good condition.
Also, grease the steering and suspension components. This will keep the seals and rubber bushings in the suspension system from drying out and cracking while the car’s stored away.
In older vehicles, you should disconnect the battery. Keeping it connected will drain it completely, potentially damaging one or more of its cells. Newer vehicles with sophisticated computer technology need the battery continuously connected but may use a “trickle charger”, which is a smart device that periodically turns the battery on for short times.
Don’t forget to ensure that your car’s license doesn’t expire while it’s in storage, or you’ll be forced to drive it out of the storage facility unlicensed.
Finally, once you’ve finished preparing the vehicle, leave a note for yourself on the car’s steering wheel, reminding yourself of all the steps you’ll need to take before driving, such as reconnecting the battery wiper blades and putting back carpets.