There are moments when you need to park your car for a long period of time when you are on holiday, in winter, or when you are using alternative means of transport.
The right storage protects your car from the weather and rodents.
But how do you prepare your car and prevent it from rusting when you are not using it?
How to Prepare Your Car for Long-Term Storage
1. Fill the tank
Many people would think of doing the opposite. But the gas tank is made of metal and when it is not in use, moisture creeps in and makes it rust. If you plan not to use the car for some time, fill it with petrol and a stabilizer. Depending on the manufacturer’s type it is recommended to use one ounce of stabilizer with 3-5 gallons of gasoline.
In addition to refueling the car, the engine oil should also be changed. Used oil will thicken when not in use and can cause engine problems when you try to drive the car.
2. Identify the right storage location
The ideal location for a car should be well ventilated and free from moisture. It should also be sealed against rodents. Rodents cause devastating damage to the seats and electrical components of a car. Clean the car in this respect and make sure that there are no food particles anywhere.
You can also wax the exterior. Cleaning the interior with a vacuum cleaner will ensure that no mold grows while you are away.
3. Check the paperwork
If you are not going to use your car for more than six months, it is advisable to make sure that all the paperwork is done. You may also need to inform your insurance agent that you will not be using the car. This will protect you if something happens to the car.
If you decide not to renew your insurance, it is advisable to set reminders so that you do not drive a car that is not insured when you return.
4. Put the car on jack stands
Unused tires form uneven wear. This is because the entire weight of the car is concentrated in one area of the tire. Use jack stands to release the pressure on the car’s tires. Make sure that the tires are well inflated when you leave the car. It is also recommended to deflate the tires to 10psi lower than the recommended tire pressure.
This will prevent the tires from tearing. However, newer tires are designed to overcome flat spots, which are removed the moment you drive the car.
5. Remove the battery terminals
Battery terminals are subject to corrosion if not used for a long time. If you remove the terminals, you prevent your battery from draining and needing to jump start it when you return. You can perform this simple procedure with pliers.
6. Use a car cover
A car cover protects your car from moisture and thus from rust. It also keeps your car clean and free from the elements. The car cover should completely cover the outside of the car.
7. Lubricate car
To prevent your doors from freezing, lubricate the hood, doors, and truck with silicone or white lithium grease for the tires and graphite grease for the locks. When you return, you will have no trouble opening your doors or your trunk.
8. Regular drive
If you are traveling for months, you might want to have someone stop by every now and then to take the car for a spin. Batteries lose charge when they are not used for a long time. A test drive with the car ensures that the moving parts are lubricated. During the test drive, you can turn on the air conditioning to make sure it is still working.
You can also clean it of mold and rodents. If you have no one to help you, disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. However, this will reset the car clock and other things that use the battery. An alternative is a trickle charger. With this device, you connect part of the terminal to the wall socket. This prevents the battery from losing charge.
9. Avoid using the parking brake
If you are not going to use your car for a long time, it is advisable to use auto-stoppers instead of the parking brake. The fusion of the brake pads and discs occurs when you park the car for a long time. You will have problems driving the car when you return.
10. Keep rodents out
Rodents love a dump, and a garage is a favorite place. They find breeding grounds in the hood and trunk of the car. The destruction caused by rodents is evidenced by loose wires that can cause electric shocks. To keep rodents away, you can cover the exhaust system and air intake openings.
Peppermint is known to repel rodents. You can spray a little on some cotton balls and then place them in strategic places where rodents like to hide. For those who are a bit adventurous, you can lay mousetraps in the garage or use rat poison.
11. Checklist for when you come back
When you return, you must check the car properly before taking it out for a ride. This includes inflating the tires, checking the brake discs for rust and topping up all engine fluids. The wipers may have cracked and you will need to replace them.
Check under the hood for rodent infestation. You must clean the car properly, both inside and out. When all this is done, connect the battery terminals. Fill up the engine with the necessary fluids and circulate the engine oil through all engine parts. Your car is now ready for a drive.
There are those moments when you have to travel for business or pleasure and you will not need your car. Good preparation of the car prevents rodents and humidity from damaging it. The tires must be slightly deflated while the battery terminals are disconnected.
When you are finished, you should clean the car inside and out and put a cover on it. Spray some peppermint on cotton balls and place them strategically in the car to keep mice and rats away.