If you live in an area that reaches freezing temperatures and you don’t plan on using your car throughout the winter, we recommend winterizing it for storage. Winterizing your car for storage allows you to care for your car under the most optimal conditions rather than leaving it on the street or driveway to be covered in snow month after month. Taking the time to work through all of the proper steps to winterize your car will ensure that when spring comes around, your car is as good as new. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about how to winterize your car for storage.
1. Clean Your Car
The first step in winterizing your car for storage is to give it a thorough cleaning, both inside and out. Putting a dirty car into storage isn’t ideal and will only lead to frustration when it’s time to take it out. Spend some time hand washing your car and apply polish to any chrome features. We recommend going above and beyond and finishing the wash with a nice coat of wax. Ensure that everything is off of your car’s exterior, especially tree-sap, as it can tarnish the paint over time.
If you have any areas on your car that are especially prone to rusting, we recommend spraying a protective coat of rubberized undercoating or WD-40 to make sure that it’s kept in the best condition possible.
2. Get an Oil Change
Putting a car in storage with dirty oil isn’t a good idea. Get an oil change right before you plan to store your car to help reduce any contaminants from moving into your engine. This is also a great way to ensure that as soon as you’re ready to take your car out of storage, it’ll run in pristine condition. If you don’t change your oil prior to storage, it’s recommended to get an oil change as soon as you take it out, before putting too many miles on it.
3. Add Fuel Stabilizer
If you’re going to be storing your car for the entire winter, you need to add a fuel stabilizer. Fuel starts to go bad after 30 days and only lasts up to 3 months. After which, it will negatively impact your engine, transmission, and the overall functioning of your car. Fill up your gas tank as much as possible and then add a fuel stabilizer to the top. When your gas tank is completely full, you reduce the risk of getting air in the tank, which can contaminate your fuel and cause internal rusting.
Turn on your car so that the fuel stabilizer enters the carburetor, injectors, and runs throughout the vehicle. The stabilizer will help to prevent any corrosion during storage.
4. Double Check Tire Pressure
If you put your car into storage with low tire pressure, you run the risk of opening your storage unit and finding flat tires. Checking your tire pressure before moving your car into storage will eliminate this possibility and helps protect the rims from having excess pressure. Fill your tires to the factory recommend pressure and consider using jack stands to reduce the risk of developing flat tires.
5. Consider Jack Stands
With that being said, consider investing in some jack stands. Jack stands will help you avoid developing any tire flat spots and increases the overall longevity of your car’s suspension. They take weight off of your car’s support system that is usually held up through the suspension. Jack stands will also make sure that your car doesn’t move throughout the winter.
6. Lubricate Generously
When your car sits in one place for too long, moving parts become more fragile and can crumble or crack if they get too dry. This happens even more frequently in extremely cold temperatures. To protect your chassis points from freezing, crumbling, or cracking during storage, apply a generous amount of lubrication before you put your car into storage. This keeps these parts in excellent condition, so you have no trouble when it’s time to take your car out of storage.
7. Check Your Coolant
If you’re storing your car in a climate controlled area, this step isn’t as important. If you aren’t, make sure you have enough antifreeze in your coolant. If you don’t the water in the coolant will expand and freeze, which causes expensive damages to your engine. Taking your car out of storage only to find you have thousands of dollars worth of damages—exactly what you were trying to avoid—is not a great way to start the spring.
8. Pay Attention to Your Battery
You can leave your battery connected, disconnect it, or utilize battery tenders while your car is in storage. Learn more about how to do each of these here.
9. Reduce Rodents
To reduce the chance that any rodents make your car their winter home, take special precautions during storage. Cover your intake and exhaust so they can’t enter and consider investing in a basic rodent repellent to spray around your car during storage. You can cover your intake and exhaust with plastic bags or aluminum foil and tape.
10. Find a Good Cover
After you’ve cleaned your car and gone through the steps for winterizing it, it’s time to find a good cover. Covering your car is a good way to avoid having any dust, dirt, or debris accumulate. The important thing is to make sure you opt for a breathable cloth cover, as using plastic covers will trap moisture and contribute to rust or damage. If you don’t want to spend the money on a custom car cover, simply use an old bed sheet. It’s breathable and made of delicate enough material that won’t harm your car. Make sure that it fits comfortably around your car when placed in storage.
11. Opt for Climate Control Storage
To keep your car in the best condition possible throughout the winter, opt for a climate controlled storage unit that can accommodate cars. While they are a little more expensive upfront, they will save you thousands of dollars in potential damages by keeping your car out of extreme temperatures and behind safe walls. As an added benefit, the concrete flooring used in climate controlled storage units means that no added moisture gets in.
Taking Your Car Out of Storage
When it comes time to take your car out of storage, there are a few things you’ll want to do before turning on the engine.
Charge the Battery
First and foremost, charge your battery. The battery has been sitting idle for a long period of time and it will need to recharge before you can drive it. We recommend aiming for a full 24 hours of charging before driving.
Inspect Your Car
Go around your car and inspect it for any signs of damage. Make sure the paint still looks good and pay special attention to any signs of insect or rodent damages. Take the covers out of your exhaust and intake to make sure nothing made its way inside. Check to make sure there isn’t any fluid leaking from your car.
Check Your Brakes
Double-check your brakes to make sure they’re still working. Inspect the brake lines thoroughly to ensure there was no damage done throughout the winter, especially from rodents. Take special care of this step, as driving without brakes can be extremely dangerous, but is easily avoided.
Warm it Up
When you turn your car on, let it idle for a bit. Allow your car to warm up and check all of the lights, horns, stereos, etc. in the mean time. When you do start to drive it, don’t immediately floor it. Give it some time to get used to being on the road again so you don’t end up overworking it and causing damage. Once it’s all warmed up, you’re good to enjoy your car until the next winter.
Finding the Right Self Storage Company
Finding a good self storage company to store your car in over the winter is important. As we mentioned, opting for a climate controlled unit will help save you thousands of dollars in potential damages and will give you peace of mind you want when storing such a valuable item. All of the units at The Lock Up Self Storage are equipped with top of the line climate control and impeccable security features. Our units are protected by 24/7 video monitoring, perimeter alarms, and individually coded access at all times to ensure the utmost levels of security. Head to our homepage and search our locations to find the nearest The Lock Up Self Storage in your city. If you’d prefer to speak with one of our representatives, call us today at (866) 327-LOCK!