If you own a vehicle you rarely drive but don’t want to sell, you may have many questions about its upkeep. You might wonder about things like auto insurance for a parked car and how to keep it well-maintained. However, one of the biggest concerns may be adequately storing your vehicle.
Leaving your car to sit for long periods can have consequences if it’s not put away safely. The result could cause you to either sell your vehicle due to high repair costs or pay for it out of pocket. Either way, you won’t be jumping in your car and getting back on the road quickly if you aren’t practicing proper storage.
More goes into how you store your car than you may think. Here’s how to ensure your vehicle is put away safely so it’s ready for you to use again.
Do Fill Your Gas Tank Before Storing
You may think letting your car sit without gas in the tank is no big deal since you won’t be driving anywhere. However, leaving it less than full can cause problems.
An empty fuel tank can begin to rust over time due to moisture trapped inside. To avoid this potential problem, ensure your tank is full. When your tank is filled, there is no room for water to enter and cause corrosion.
Don’t Pull the Parking Brake
Pulling the parking brake before allowing your vehicle to sit might seem like it makes sense. Doing so will stop your car from rolling and keep it locked in place.
While parking brakes are great for a quick stop, they don’t benefit long-term use. The longest you should ideally leave your brake pulled is overnight. Anything longer than that can cause your parking brake to get stuck.
Do Elevate Your Car to Avoid Flat Tires
When your car sits for an extended time without moving, the vehicle’s weight can place a lot of pressure on the same spots in your tires. Over time, this can lead to flats which may be permanent in your tires.
Rather than noticing a flat tire when you’re ready to drive again, elevate your vehicle to avoid them. Using tools like jack stands can help you get your car off the ground and prevent the sitting weight from ruining your tires.
Don’t Expose Your Vehicle to the Elements
Allowing your car to sit out in the rain, snow, hail, and cold can cause damage to your engine and exterior. Rust and damaged paint are common exterior problems that come from vehicles sitting out too long. You may also see sun damage to your interior, such as upholstery color changes.
If you can avoid exposing your vehicle to these threats, it will hold up much better over time. A garage is an ideal location to keep a car you aren’t using, but there are other alternatives if you don’t have that option. Weatherproof tarps, carpools, or storage units are also great ways to keep your car from being too exposed.
Do Maintain Your Battery
When a car sits for long periods, the battery can become drained. When you are ready to start your vehicle again, you may turn the key, only to find the battery dead.
To prevent this, you can purchase a battery maintainer, which is connected to your car’s battery and helps keep it from dying. As your vehicle sits, the maintainer will periodically charge it, so it remains active.
If you don’t maintain your battery, you may need to recondition it, which can be lengthy. The process includes cleaning, replacing the battery cell solution, and recharging. The other option is to purchase a brand-new battery.
Don’t Store Your Vehicle Dirty
Giving your car a scrub-down before storing it may not seem like a high priority, but it’s an essential step to safe storage. When things like bird droppings, salt, or stains sit on your car’s exterior for extended periods, they can cause permanent damage to the paint.
To avoid this damage, give your car a quick wash before it heads into storage. Doing this ensures your vehicle is in the same condition when you take it out as it was when it went in.
Do Keep Your Car Insured While Storing
If you’re not driving your vehicle, you may think you don’t need to keep it insured. However, having insurance on a car is essential, even if it’s only being stored.
Even though your vehicle isn’t being driven, it can still be damaged or stolen. Without insurance coverage, you won’t be able to file a claim and receive compensation. You’ll likely have to pay for repairs out of pocket or purchase yourself a new car.
Talk to your agent and see what your company offers in terms of coverage for stored vehicles. They may advise their own version of parked car insurance to help keep your vehicle safe.
Don’t Welcome Critters Into Your Vehicle
Cracking the windows for airflow while your vehicle is in storage may seem like an excellent way to avoid your car getting musty. But open windows are also a substantial welcome sign to critters looking for a home. Any entry point to your stored vehicle will likely attract animals like squirrels, raccoons, or mice.
To help avoid your vehicle becoming a critter’s new home, be sure to leave windows tightly shut. You can even take things a step further and surround your car with cedar or mothballs. Adding these will help repel animals from looking for an entry point into your car.
Storing Your Vehicle With Safety in Mind
There are many reasons you may choose to store your vehicle for an extended period. You might have moved to a more walkable location, begun working from home, or purchased a new car but don’t want to part with your other.
No matter your reason for choosing storage, it’s essential to properly maintain your car while you’re not driving it. Following these dos and don’ts can ensure your vehicle is safe, well cared for, and ready to hit the road again the next time you want to drive.