What Are the Best Tips for Storing a Car for an Extended Period?

Storing a car for an extended period may seem like a simple task, but it involves more than just parking and walking away. There are numerous considerations to ensure that your car remains in optimal condition while stored away. Good preparation can make a significant difference in how well your car will start and run when you’re ready to use it again. But what does it take to properly store a car for months or even years? Here are the best tips on how to keep your vehicle in the best shape while it’s out of commission.

Preparing Your Car for Long-Term Storage

Before you store your car, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Proper preparation can prevent damage and ensure that your car is ready to hit the road as soon as you need it.

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Firstly, clean your car thoroughly, both inside and out. Dust and grime can cause damage over time, and any food remnants can attract pests. Pay special attention to the undercarriage, where dirt and salt can lead to corrosion.

Next, change the oil. Dirty oil can contain contaminants that could damage the engine over time. If you plan on storing the car for more than three months, also consider replacing the coolant, brake, and transmission fluids.

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Finally, top off your gas tank and add a fuel stabilizer. This will prevent the gas from deteriorating and keep the fuel system clean.

Choosing the Right Storage Location

The location where you store your car significantly impacts its preservation. The ideal place is a dry, airy garage with a concrete floor. This prevents moisture from accumulating and causing rust or other damage.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a garage. If that’s the case for you, consider renting a storage unit. Many facilities offer climate-controlled units specifically designed for car storage.

If indoor storage is not an option, the next best solution is to use a high-quality car cover. Make sure it’s made of breathable material to prevent moisture buildup and tightly fitted to protect against dust and debris.

Maintaining the Battery

One of the most common issues with cars that have been stored for a long time is a dead battery. To prevent this, you can disconnect the battery and store it in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, you can connect it to a battery maintainer that will keep it fully charged.

Another option is to ask a friend or neighbor to start the car and let it run for about 15 minutes every week. This will not only keep the battery charged but also circulate the oil and prevent the engine from drying out.

Looking After the Tires

When a car sits stationary for a long time, its weight can cause flat spots to develop on the tires. To avoid this, you can inflate the tires to the maximum recommended pressure or consider using jack stands to take the weight off the tires entirely.

Another crucial factor is to avoid moving the car back and forth in its parking spot. This can cause the tires to degrade faster.

Protecting From Pests

Rodents and other pests can cause severe damage to a stored car. They can chew through wires, hoses, and other car parts, leading to costly repairs.

To protect your car from pests, make sure it’s clean and free of any food that could attract them. You can also use natural deterrents like mothballs or peppermint oil.

Additionally, plug the exhaust pipe and air intake with steel wool or aluminum foil to prevent rodents from nesting in these areas. Remember to remove these before you start the car again.

Remember, when it comes to storing a car for an extended period, preparation is key. By taking the time to prepare your vehicle properly, choosing the right storage location, maintaining the battery, looking after the tires, and protecting it from pests, you can ensure your car stays in top condition, ready for your return to the road.

Maintaining the Car’s Interior

While the exterior of the car and its technical components are important to maintain, it’s equally crucial to protect the car’s interior during long-term storage. To reduce the risk of damage, remove all personal items from the car. Leaving items like electronics, water bottles, or other sundries can lead to mildew, mold, or vermin infestation.

To protect the seats, consider using seat covers. This can help prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt, as well as shield the material from sun exposure which can cause fading or cracking. If your car has leather seats, consider applying a good quality leather conditioner before storage.

Keep the car windows slightly open to allow for air circulation, reducing the risk of a musty smell developing. However, ensure that the gap isn’t large enough for insects or small animals to get in.

To keep the car smelling fresh, place a few baking soda packets or commercial car deodorizers inside. They will absorb any unpleasant odors and maintain a fresh interior environment.

Taking the Car Out of Storage

When the time comes to take your car out of storage, there are a few steps that need to be taken to ensure it’s road-ready. Start by checking the tires for any flat spots or low pressure. If the car was raised on jack stands, carefully lower it back down.

Next, inspect the engine for any signs of pests or visible damage. Reconnect the battery, if it was removed, and check the fluid levels. If the exhaust pipe and air intake were plugged, remember to remove any blockers.

Before starting the car for the first time, prime the oil pump by removing the fuel pump fuse or relay and cranking the engine for a few seconds. This circulates the oil and reduces wear and tear on startup.

Finally, don’t rush to hit the road. Let the car idle for a few minutes before driving. This gives the fluids time to circulate and reach optimal operating temperature.


Storing a car for an extended period requires careful planning and preparation. From cleaning the car thoroughly, choosing the right storage location, maintaining the battery, protecting the tires, safeguarding it from pests, to minding the interior, each step contributes to keeping your car in prime condition during its storage period. And when the time comes to revive your car from its slumber, a systematic approach ensures that it’s ready for the journey ahead. The key is to be diligent and mindful of these guidelines, so when it’s time to hit the road again, your car is as ready as you are.

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