How to store your car

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Protect your ride from the elements
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Know where and how to store your car so that you preserve your investment

Cars are made to be driven, so any time you know your car is going to be inactive or stored for more than a few weeks, it should be prepared so that itís in good running order when you need to drive it again.

The best place to store your car is in a garage. If the vehicle will be left outside, invest in a good car cover, preferably one designed to fit your make and model. These can obtained from a car dealer or online.

The first step in getting your car ready for storage is to drive it until the engine is warmed up. This will burn off any condensation in the gas tank. Fill up the tank with premium fuel and consider adding a gasoline stabilizer to keep it from getting gummy. Check all of the coolants and fluids and make sure they are at the proper level. Change the oil, replace the oil filter and make sure all caps are closed and sealed or screwed on tightly.

Next, give the car a complete and thorough wash with top shelf detailing supplies, including the undercarriage and the wheel wells. Wax the car with a quality wax and clean the windows, lights and mirrors. Place a piece of plastic between the windshield wipers and the windows to keep them from sticking or remove the wipers and store them to prevent the rubber from drying and cracking.

Clean and vacuum the inside of the car, making sure you remove food particles or any food wrappers or containers that could decay and smell or attract rodents or insects. Consider removing carpets and mats and storing them separately to keep them from becoming musty. If you use any liquid products, be sure to let the interior air out and dry completely before closing the doors for the last time. Leave a window cracked open a little, but not enough to allow small animals in. place some steel wool in the exhaust pipe to block small animals or place repellents in the garage to keep them away.

Inflate the tires to the proper pressure for your car to prevent the tires from getting flat spots. It helps to have someone drive the car every few days to warm the tires and remove the flat spots. If the car will be stored for more than 30 days and not driven, itís a good idea to remove the wheels and place the car on jack stands. In either case, release the parking brake to avoid the pads from fusing. If the car isnít going to be started or driven every few days, either disconnect the battery or connect a trickle charger to it to keep it fully charged until you return.

Park the car over a plastic sheet. This will keep any leaks from staining the garage floor and also block moisture from the undercarriage. Make a note of all the preparations you have made and place it on the dashboard Ė it will help you remember the little things like the steel wool in the exhaust. Lock the doors to prevent theft. If you follow these steps to store your car, it will be ready to start up and go when you return.

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