Whether you own a classic or antique car that must be protected or a seldom-used car that you just want to get off the street, putting your little-used car into storage keeps it safe and out of the way. You don’t have to worry about theft or by it getting hit by another car, and when you put it in a covered unit, you protect it from hail, wind and flood damage.
Make sure to contact your car insurance company before storing your car. It is likely that you will qualify for less expensive insurance rates if you are not actively driving the car.
Before placing the car in storage, make sure to prepare it properly.
- Clean the car. Wash and buff the exterior. Clean all mirrors and windows carefully. Then clean and vacuum the inside thoroughly. Make sure no food is left anywhere inside the car. You don’t want to attract rodents or insects. Check the trunk. It should be cleaned and vacuumed as well.
- Make sure all repairs are made to your car before it goes into storage.
- Change the oil and filter before you put the car in storage. It is very important to make sure that your car’s oil is clean. Used oil contains byproducts that can cause engine corrosion when the car isn’t driven for long periods of time. Once you change the oil, drive the car and allow the oil to circulate through the engine.
- As your storage facility owner if it is okay to fill the gas tank. If so, completely fill the tank with gas. This will prevent moisture from entering the tank. Once gas is in the tank, add a fuel stabilizer and drive the car just long enough to allow the fuel stabilizer to circulate through the car.
- Check all fluids: transmission, brake, steering, and engine coolant. All fluids should be clear. If they are brown, they are dirty. Flush and replace dirty fluids. Top off clean fluids.
- Have your tires checked for leaks and rotate them. Once tires have been checked, overinflate them to 37 or 38 psi.
- Spray all exposed metal surfaces of the engine with a lubricant. This will help prevent rust.
- Replace any broken hoses.
- Remove the spark plugs and coat the inside of the cylinders with engine oil before replacing them. This will also prevent rust.
- Seal off engine openings with the cotton cloth. This protects the engine from rust, but it also keeps bugs and mice from getting inside.
- Check your owner’s manual for battery care instructions and follow them. If the owner’s manual suggests that you remove the battery, place it on a wooden block. If your car has a storage switch, flip it on. This will keep your battery from draining.
- Keep bugs and mice out of your car by closing all windows and vents. If you have a convertible, raise the top. Place a plastic bag over the exhaust pipe and seal it with duct tape. Place moth balls around the car and mouse traps near it.
- Remove windshield wiper blades.
- Park the car on a plastic tarp or on jacks. Make sure the emergency brake is off.
- Cover your car with a tarp to keep it safe from dust.
- Make sure to visit your car and let the engine run for a few minutes on a monthly basis. When you are running the engine, make sure to leave the door to the storage unit open. This will ensure proper ventilation.
It’s always important to winterize your boat when it is not in use. If you prepare for winter properly, your boat will be ready for the marina the moment you’re ready to hit the water.
Follow these steps when winterizing and storing a boat:
- Determine where the boat should be stored. You can store the boat at your home or at a marina. But don’t forget that you also have a third choice: a storage facility. Some facilities provide covered storage for boats, others have open spaces. Some are even climate controlled. Choose the space that fits your needs best.
- Clean and inspect your boat. Make sure to clean the boat inside and out. As you do this, make sure to look for problems that need to be repaired. This is the perfect time to make sure your boat is in good shape. If you wait for the spring to repair your boat, you’ll have to delay the beginning of boating season and take your boat in for repair at the same time that everyone else is.
- Keep the boat from rusting. After the boat is clean, add a rust inhibitor to the boat’s cables and hardware. This will keep it from rusting. To keep the bottom of the boat from rusting, sand it and add a fresh coat of paint.
- Take all removable items out of the boat. Electronics should be stored in a safe, dry place. Cushions, curtains, sails, and life vests should be removed and properly packed. Empty your on-board refrigerator and clean it carefully. All fluids should be drained from manifold, engine blocks, water pumps, and coolers.
- Add antifreeze, oil and fuel. After filling the gas tank with a gas and a stabilizer, run your engine for about 15 minutes to ensure the stabilizer gets to the gas. Add antifreeze to the cooling system and to all water supply lines. Make sure to change both the oil and the oil filter.
- Remove and care for the battery. Disconnect the cables and remove the battery. Once the battery is removed, check it for any exterior damage. If you see any, repair or replace the battery immediately. If the battery is not damaged, secure the vent caps, and clean the battery with a cloth dipped in a baking soda and water solution. Scrub the battery, then grease the terminal ends with petroleum jelly. Store the battery in a cool, dry place.
- Maintain the engine. Change the transmission fluid, remove spark plugs, and wipe down the engine with WD-40.
- Clean the stern drive. Remove old plants and barnacles from the lower part of the stern drive. Make sure the stern drive is in good condition and that there are no cracks or holes. Grease the fittings and check the fluid levels.
- Clean bilges. Clean bilges with soap and hot water. Once they are clean, spray them with a moisture-displacing lubricant and add antifreeze to them.
- Keep mildew away. Open all drawers and cabinets for the duration of storage. This will keep mildew from forming. As an extra precaution, place open boxes of baking soda around the boat. This will absorb extra moisture.
- Cover your boat. Select a cover with good ventilation.