Preparing Your Vehicle For Long-Term Storage

June 11th, 2023

How do you prepare a vehicle for long-term car storage if you’ve never done it before? You may not realize it at first, but long-term storage works differently than what you’d expect of a shorter storage window. Different factors need to be considered with different consequences depending on the actions you take. Even determining how long your storage lease needs to be is more challenging than it might first appear. FreeUp Storage wants to peel away your uncertainties surrounding long-term vehicle storage and equip you with the knowledge you need to feel confident leaving your vehicle at a storage facility for several months, a whole season, or even longer. Walk with us through this guide that encompasses all you need to know to prepare your vehicle and by the end, you’ll feel certain that you’re making the right decision.

Long-Term Car Storage: Essential Maintenance

You need to make sure your vehicle is well-maintained before you even think of leaving it in storage. The same is true of anything stored for a long time, such as furniture. If you come back and the vehicle has a hard time starting or has run into another issue, then you have a whole new set of problems on your hands. Keep reading for a few ways to help avoid that.

Change the Oil and Filter

Let’s begin with the longest and most detailed step in the process. Start by ensuring you’ve parked the vehicle on a level surface and that the engine has cooled down. Drain the oil by removing the plug underneath the engine and allowing the old oil to pour into an oil pan. Replace that plug once drained, then lubricate the rubber gasket with fresh oil and install a new filter, ensuring it’s not overly tight. Insert a funnel into the oil tank at the top of the engine and carefully pour in the recommended amount of oil. Start the engine for a few minutes once you’re finished, check for any leaks, and confirm the oil level is within the acceptable range on the dipstick.

Top Off Fluids and Fuel Stabilizer

Proper long-term care means not neglecting your fluids. This typically includes filling up the fuel tank to prevent moisture buildup and adding a fuel stabilizer, as well as replenishing the engine coolant, brake fluid, and windshield wiper fluids.

Inflate the Tires

Unless designated otherwise, the average recommended air pressure for tires tends to fall between 30 and 35 psi, with some variation depending on the type of tire on the vehicle. Check what’s best for your tires, then fill or empty them as needed before putting up your vehicle for long-term storage.

Clean It Thoroughly

Anything dirty in your car now will only get worse with time. Vacuum out all the crumbles, dirt, contaminants, and dog hair, then trash all of the discarded wrappers and cups. You should also shampoo the seats, wipe down the windows, and clean out cup holders. Unless you already stay on top of your car’s cleanliness, expect this to be one of the most time-intensive aspects of your car maintenance plan. It may be worth it to take your car to a professional cleaner just to save yourself some time.

Replace Worn-out Wiper Blades

This may not seem like the most important car maintenance tip, but it’s better to do it now so you don’t regret it later. Imagine choosing not to do this when you store the car, then on the day you pick it up however many months later, it’s raining, and you’ve completely forgotten that your blades barely work. Replace them regularly around every 6-12 months so you don’t run into that problem.

Long-Term Car Storage: Storage Time Limits

Generally speaking, if you’re planning to invest in long-term vehicle storage, it’s advised that you don’t leave your vehicle stagnant beyond a year. Even with full, proper care, vehicles that remain stationary for too long can experience some combination of battery deterioration, fluid degradation, tire flat-spotting, or other issues. Everything we’ve mentioned so far in this article may bring you up to or over that one year mark, but if you can manage it, we recommend checking on the vehicle at least once every 3-6 months just to make sure it’s doing alright. Maybe even take it out for a quick spin so the engine can come to life for a while. Then when you’re confident it’s doing alright, you may return it to long-term car storage for another stretch of time.

Long-Term Car Storage: Invest in Seals and Covers

We recommend investing in a couple preventative measures to provide additional protection to your vehicle over sustained long-term storage, especially if the vehicle is going to be stored outside. First, scan your car for any exterior compromises that could lead to the inside of the vehicle and seal them up. This will prevent bugs or rodents from finding their way inside in the search for shelter. Then, to guard against harsh weather conditions, drape your vehicle in a car cover. These are usually waterproof, form-fitting devices that provide your vehicle additional UV protection. This way, even if you’re gone for a long period of time, you can rest comfortably knowing that your vehicle shouldn’t have suffered any damage to sunlight or other conditions.

Feel Secure In Your Long-term Vehicle Storage with FreeUp

Leaving one of your vehicles in the care of another, especially for a long time, is not something that should be taken lightly. We at FreeUp recognize the honor we have that so many people trust us to keep their cars safe while they’re away, which is why we go the extra mile to provide support through security measures like perimeter fencing, bright facility lights, 24/7 video surveillance, and coded gate entry. Long-term car storage can be nerve-wracking, but we’re dedicated to giving you the best experience you could hope for while you’re away. If you have any questions about our process and policies that we didn’t discuss here, please reach out online or by reaching out to one of our properties near you. We look forward to helping you find a cost-effective, peaceful storage solution for your long-term storage needs. It’s what we do best!