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Complete Auto Repair & Maintenance in Fort Collins Colorado
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BBB Accredited, ASE Certified

Tips for Long-Term Vehicle Storage

an image of car in parking lotAre you going away on sabbatical or visiting family for an extended time overseas? If so, you probably won’t need your car for the next few months. No matter why you’re considering long-term vehicle storage, make sure you prep your car properly first to prevent damaging the paint, tires, and internal components.

Choose the Right Storage Space

The first step is to select a viable place for long-term vehicle storage. Your options may be dictated by your living situation and how long you’ll be storing your car. Three possibilities include:

  • The garage: If you have a garage, this is the best option for protecting your car from the elements. Just make sure you secure all entries into the garage.
  • A storage facility: If a garage isn’t available, consider renting space from an indoor storage facility. Some businesses specialize in vehicle storage, which could be a great option.
  • With friends or family: You can also leave your car with someone you trust who has a garage.

Clean the Car Inside & Out

Even the smallest amount of moisture, road salt, sand, or bird droppings stuck to the outside of your car for months on end could damage the paint. Clean the outside of your vehicle to prevent this. Clean the inside as well. Otherwise, sticky messes and crumbs could attract insects or rodents that are more than happy to make a nest in your back seat.

Follow these car cleaning tips to get your vehicle all set for long-term storage. Then, to help deter pests, place a few dryer sheets or mothballs on the seats.

Protect the Tires

When a car sits for too long, air gradually leaks out of the tires. The weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires, creating flat spots that can ruin them. We recommend inflating your tires to the maximum allowed pressure to help account for air leaks. You can also store your car on jack stands to take all pressure off the tires.

Protect Internal Components

To help ensure your car isn’t any worse for wear after being in long-term storage, protect internal components with these tips:

  • Change the oil: Used oil can damage a vehicle’s engine when stored for an extended time. Change the oil right before the car goes into storage to make sure it’s as clean as possible.
  • Fill the coolant: This ensures your car is ready to drive when you return. Make sure you use the proper ratio of coolant to water for your engine.
  • Top off the gas tank: A full tank prevents moisture from becoming trapped in the fuel lines. If you’re storing your car for more than a few months, add a fuel stabilizer as well to prevent the gas from separating.
  • Take out the battery: For storage that lasts longer than a few months, remove the battery and store it in a clean, dry, climate-controlled place. This will help prevent corrosion and loss of charge.

Cover the Vehicle

No matter where you’re storing your car, cover it. Here’s how to prep the vehicle:

  • Put your car in park. If you have an automatic transmission, don’t set the parking brake.
  • Clean out any valuables. Keep insurance and registration cards in the glove compartment.
  • Roll up the windows and close the doors.
  • Remove the antenna, if applicable.
  • Remove the windshield wipers.
  • Plug the tailpipe with a rag to keep dust and pests out.
  • Wrap the vehicle securely with a breathable, weatherproof cover.

Visit Scott’s Before & After Long-Term Vehicle Storage

To ensure proper protection for the internal components of your car, choose Scott’s Fort Collins Auto for your oil change and coolant top-off right before putting your vehicle in long-term storage.

Some experts suggest starting up your stored vehicle every so often, but as long as you store the car properly, this precaution shouldn’t be necessary. Still, when you return from your long holiday or sabbatical and start the engine for the first time, follow these steps:

  • Remove the cover.
  • Put back any parts you removed. (If you need to replace the battery, stop by Scott’s to pick one up.)
  • Remove the rag from the tailpipe.
  • Check the tire pressure to ensure adequate inflation.
  • Warm up the engine for a few minutes before driving.
  • Never idle a car in a closed garage.
  • Drive to Scott’s for a tune-up.

Whether you need help preparing your car for storage or making it roadworthy again after being stored for months, stop by Scott’s in Fort Collins. Schedule your appointment by calling us at (970) 682-4202 today.

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