While winter weather is unpredictable, your car’s durability shouldn’t be. Whether you want to preserve your vintage vehicle till spring or need a space to store your car for years to come, a climate-controlled storage facility isn’t the only thing car owners need to keep in mind when preparing for the winter. We’ve outlined the best ways to preserve your prized ride during the cold season.
OIL & FILTER CHANGE
Before even thinking about car winter storage, it’s best to consider giving your car an oil and filter change if you plan to store it for more than 30 days. Even if your vehicle isn’t due for maintenance, a non-running car has a greater risk of engine corrosion and leftover sludge that could cause future maintenance problems.
When preparing your prized ride for car winter storage, it’s important to make sure your gas tank is full. Although there have been debates on whether or not to leave the tank empty or full, the majority vote has been to fill ‘er up. Due to your fuel system not being airtight, moisture can accumulate inside, not to mention most gas contains some type of ethanol which also attracts water from the atmosphere leading to corrosion. Like milk left out on the counter, gas can also spoil – though it’ll last around 30 days according to Road & Track. Adding a fuel stabilizer will prevent oxidation and keep the gas from going stale. To understand how to use fuel stabilizer, this article from Road & Track, “How to Keep Gas from Going Bad Over the Winter,” provides some great information.
FLUSH YOUR RADIATOR
Although the automobile industry recommends that you store your vehicle in a climate-controlled storage facility during the winter, if you are planning to keep it in a place subject to temperature variations, NAPA recommends an annual radiator flush. You should also make sure your antifreeze level is full. Be extra cautious though! You want to check your coolant’s strength to make sure it’s the right ratio of coolant to water. Be sure not to mix regular coolant, which usually has a green color, with long-lasting coolants, which usually have a red or yellow color. They both have different expiration dates.
On tips to use radiator flush: NAPA – Getting Ready for the Winter: Radiator Flush
For more info about storing your vehicle in TMS’s climate-controlled storage units, check our article, “Five FAQs About Climate Control Storage Units.”
TO TAKE THE BATTERY OUT OR NOT
Once temperatures drop during the wintertime, your car battery is one of the trickiest parts of your car to maintain, but, fortunately, you have a lot of options depending on how long you plan to store your vehicle. Just like plants that die when they don’t get enough water, batteries die when they lose their charge. If you plan to drive your car at some point during the winter months, you can hook your car battery up to a trickle charger or battery maintainer. Road & Track advises using models that have a float, storage or maintenance charge mode to keep the battery from overcharging. We recommend you stay away from the cheaply priced batteries. An effective battery charger costs less than having to buy a brand new battery.
If you plan to keep your car in storage for a while, take out the battery completely and store it in a warm and secure place, such as in your basement or along with your car if you are storing it in one of our climate-controlled storage units. Experts recommend buying and using a battery charger even when it’s detached from your car.
Check with your mechanic to find the safest solution for your make and model.
One of the rare times you shouldn’t use your parking brake is when you put your vehicle away in storage. Purchase some tire chocks or jack up your car. Using your parking brakes while in car winter storage can lead to unnecessary wear and tear over time.
There are a few maintenance tips to keep when taking care of your tires. When keeping your car parked in storage for prolonged periods without any jack stands and/or blocks, flat spots can appear on the tires, so it’s best to jack it up before you leave to relieve pressure off the tires.
Flat spots occur when a tire has been under a vehicle for a prolonged period and has a flat spot in the area where it was in contact with the ground.
Another tip is to check your tire pressure and air them up if needed, but don’t go over the maximum inflation. Check the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure as your guideline. The recommendation is usually located on an information sticker inside the driver’s door for convenience.
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to clean your car’s tires. Removing dirt and brake dust before putting your car in winter storage is just another step in preserving the life of your car.
For more on tire care: AAA – How to Properly Perform Tire Care
MAINTAIN THE CAR INSURANCE
Now that you’ve parked your car in storage and performed the necessary maintenance for the frigid winter, don’t forget to check the status of the car’s insurance. You need to keep your car insurance current, in case of theft or damage, regardless of how secure the storage facility is.
Make sure to speak with your insurance agent about your car insurance while it is in storage. Additionally, you can talk with a TMS representative by calling us at 940.648.5000 and ask about the security features offered at our self-storage facility to confirm that your car is in the best place possible and remain safe while not in use.
For more info about tips on storage insurance, read our article, “Self-Storage Insurance and Why You Want It.”
WASH & WAX
Part of caring for your automobile is storing it away clean. Hand wash your car to wash away all of the leftover bird droppings, dirt, and water stains. Wax your car for an added layer of protection and give your chrome the final polishing off before you cover it.
Even the most secure storage facilities can’t prevent rodents like mice from sneaking in. These rodents can make homes in your exhaust pipes and interior when the weather gets colder. To prevent this, make sure your car windows are completely rolled up, plug up any gaps such as an air intake or an exhaust pipe with steel wool, place mouse traps outside your vehicle where you might find rodent activity, or use a granular animal repellent to ward them off. In the interior, place scented dryer sheets or soap shavings rather than mothballs to repel the rodents and leave a fresh scent in the interior.
KEEP IT COVERED
Right after you wash and wax your beauty, go a step further to protect it by covering it with a car cover or tarp while it waits out the winter months. Using a breathable, cloth cover will prevent dust and moisture from getting in. Plastic covers have the tendency to trap moisture creating rust and can potentially scratch the car paint.
STORE IT ON A TARP
Placing a plastic tarp underneath your car while it’s in storage will help prevent any potential oil or condensation from leaking onto the floor, in addition to minimizing the moisture coming up from the ground. All you need is a plastic tarp about the size of your vehicle to catch any leaks.
Your prized vehicle is our number one priority; and, with the unpredictable weather ahead, trust TMS with your car winter storage. Reserve your unit today and call us with any questions or concerns at 940.648.5000, and we will help you figure out a solution that’s best for your business! Follow us on our Facebook page!