Prepare Your Car for Winter Storage

Jon Fesmire |
Winter will soon be upon us, and it’s nearly time to protect your prized sports car in storage to ride out the freezing months. The process seems straightforward enough: rent space at an indoor car storage facility and drive your car in, then get it out in spring. You might come by every week or so to run the engine for five minutes to keep your battery charged, but otherwise, all should be well. This article will explain why that approach can actually cause damage to your car and keep you from enjoying it during the warmer months! It will also explain the right way to store your vehicle so it’s waiting for you when the snow thaws.

Before Storing

  • Decide on a Storage Place: The ideal place to keep your car is probably your garage, if you have one. If not, use StorageFront’s search engine to find a vehicle self-storage facility near you. Make sure to get an indoor spot with a concrete floor for your car. If you live in a humid area, it’s best to choose one with climate control.
  • Wash Your Vehicle: This includes not only washing the body, but also underneath where dirt, tar, and grit accumulate. Left there, these materials can begin to corrode the body. Consider waxing your car as well to protect the paint job. Use a light layer of grease on the weather stripping to prevent cracking over the dry winter months.
  • Check Your Car’s Fluids: Check the oil with the dip stick and change it, topping it off, if the old oil is dirty. If you need to, go to a gas station and top off the other fluids, including windshield washer fluid and antifreeze. Check with the storage provider to find out how much gas you can keep in the tank while in their facility. If you’re allowed to fill the tank, then do so. Otherwise, don’t fill it higher than they allow. Then top off the tank with a fuel stabilizer.
  • Pump Up Your Tires: To avoid uneven, flat spots after a long winter, fill your tires to the maximum PSI rating, which will be listed on the side of the tires.

At the Storage Facility

Battery Tender: (cc) Amazon and Battery Tender
  • Protective Plastic: Place plastic sheeting on floor of your parking spot to protect your vehicle from ground moisture.
  • Put the Car in Neutral: Your parking space should be a level, flat surface. Put the car in neutral and do not use the parking brake.
  • Roll Down the Windows: This is important to create air circulation within the vehicle cabin and to discourage mold growth. You only need to roll each window down about one inch.
  • Protect the Battery: Some people like to remove the battery and then hook it up to a battery tender for the duration of the winter. However, it’s often better to leave the battery in the car when you attach the tender to it. Just keep the hood open an inch for the cords.
  • Discourage Pests: Rodents would be happy to make your car their winter nest. To keep them out, put one ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe and second in the air inlet. Put mothballs or, for a better smell, cotton swabs dipped in peppermint oil, around the car’s perimeter. In the trunk and cabin, place several dryer sheets. If your area has a preponderance of rodents, consider setting out mousetraps and rat poison, but if you do this, check in every week or so to dispose of any dead pests.
  • Car Covers: A weatherproof car cover should only be necessary if you have to keep your car outside during the winter season. If you decide to use one, make sure it fits your car snugly but allows for some air circulation.

Once the Car is Parked

  • Check Your Insurance: Since you won’t be driving that car, speak with your insurance agent and find out what specific aspect of coverage you can drop for the season. Do not drop your coverage entirely, as this could just increase your insurance when you restart it. Before retrieving your car in spring, remember to re-activate the parts of your insurance you canceled over the winter.
  • Let the Car Rest: With the battery tender in place, you should not need to start the car regularly to keep the battery charged. In fact, letting the car idle can create condensation throughout the car’s various systems. Taking it out for a drive is an even worse idea. You’ll just have to repeat the storage preparations before parking it again. The best thing to do is to let it rest until winter is over.
Following these instructions, you’ll do a much better job of keeping your car in great shape during the freezing winter months. Your faithful ride will be waiting for you to retrieve it after the snow thaws and spring rolls around.