Most people think that storing the car for a period of less than three months is a simple procedure that does not require any special preparation. However leaving any automobile on use and immobile for any time even as short as a few weeks can lead to irreparable damage of certain susceptible parts or even result in costly deterioration of the entire vehicle. However with a few simple steps easily performed much of the damage of long or short-term vehicle storage and be avoided.
If you’re planning to leave your car unattended for a period of one to three months there are some quick and simple steps which will help protect your car from the ravages of time.
Perhaps the simplest and most commonsensical first step is to thoroughly clean the interior and exterior of your automobile. By removing all the trash that has accumulated inside the car you are helping to prevent damage to carpets or surfaces by forgotten discarded items as well as discouraging insects and rodents using the clutter accumulated in your vehicle as nesting items. Wipe down all interior surfaces and treat with protective treatments or cleansers. For the exterior, wash the car thoroughly and apply car wax to all painted surfaces.
Ideally you would like to store your vehicle inside away from the elements. If this is not available to you a car cover is highly recommended. It is best to have a cover designed specifically for your make and model vehicle though you may find this difficult to find and/or expensive. Do your best to find the best fitting car cover for your car. As a last resort a tarp or large fabric sheet can be used as a cover as long as it is secured tightly. Avoid using plastic tarps as their deterioration and and abrasion caused by motion resulting from wind can possibly end up being worse than leaving your car uncovered.
If you are able to store your car in an enclosed and secure location you want to leave your windows cracked open to prevent accumulation of humidity, mold and mildew inside the vehicle.
For storage shorter than three months it is not necessary to take special precautions to protect your vehicles tires. Modern tires are designed to withstand “flat spots” caused by standing in one spot for too long. It is recommended however that you let 10 psi of air pressure out of each tire to help preserve the malleability of the rubber.
As for the delicate mechanical workings of your vehicle the best way to prepare for short-term storage is to make sure all fluids are filled to the utmost. This prevents the presence of air and therefore condensation throughout the internal components of your engine. The quickest and easiest way to do this is a quick visit to your local automobile mechanic for a tune up. The one exception to this rule is windshield wiper fluid which you should drain completely if you are storing your car in an area which will have freezing temperatures.
Removing, or simply disconnecting the negative to your car’s battery will help prevent a rapid loss of charge. Make sure however that you will not be inadvertently disconnecting any important electrical components such as a desired security alarm or a continuously operating computer monitoring system that is found in many of today’s modern vehicles. Consult your owner’s manual for details on battery disconnection. An alternate option is to connect your battery to a “trickle charger” which feeds a small but constant electrical charge into your battery keeping it at an optimal level of storage.