How to Store Your Vehicle Properly for Winter
If you’re obliged to tuck away your four-wheeled baby for the cold season, there are some things you can do to take proper care of the vehicle before putting it down for its long winter’s nap.
A Clean Car Is a Happy Car
Your vehicle should be thoroughly cleaned before storage. Seems simple enough. But there are some things you may not have considered that should be done (or shouldn’t be) before you bed down your vehicle for the winter.
- Wash your car thoroughly. Once it’s dry, shine the exterior and use wax to protect your paint job (make sure the wax is completely rubbed in so a residue doesn’t remain).
- Place a decalescent (like silica gel) in your vehicle interior and trunk to keep moisture at bay.
- Speaking of moisture, if you’re steam-cleaning your car’s carpet and upholstery prior to storage, leave ample time for the fabric to dry thoroughly so moisture isn’t trapped, which can allow mold to develop.
- Apply a coat of rubberized undercoating to unpainted metal surfaces beneath your vehicle to prevent rust (due to flammability, do not spray exhaust mechanisms that can become hot).
- Dispose of all trash inside the car.
- While cleaning your car, remember to also clean out the storage space where it will be housed.
An Ounce of Prevention
Thinking ahead can help prevent some unsavory surprises when you bring your vehicle back into the light for spring.
To deter mice and other critters, for instance, you can place odorous items—like mothballs or dryer sheets—inside your car. You can also stuff your tailpipe to keep small creatures from establishing a nest to rest their tails in.
Keep your gas tank full to prevent moisture from forming inside the tank walls; otherwise, this moisture can react with the steel inside the tank, leading to oxidation and potentially causing corrosion and fuel leakage.
You should also drain, flush, and change your fluids before storing your vehicle, as well as lubricate hinges and locks and other vehicle parts.
It’s additionally wise to fill your tires to a higher pressure level—without exceeding their maximum recommended air pressure—as tires can lose pressure over time, especially in the midst of temperature changes. You can also jack up your car to relieve pressure on the tires and suspension parts.