The Best Steps In Preparing Your Car For Winter Storage

Courtesy: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Courtesy: Matt Cardy/Getty Images /

If you have a car that you don’t drive in the winter, there are a few crucial prep steps you need to take before storing it away.

There are a few different reasons as to why someone may store their car away for the winter months. The first being that they live in a place with harsh winters that their vehicle cannot handle. This can include the car being too low and not being equipped with an all-wheel-drive system.

Another reason is that the car may just be too valuable to drive around with all the salt and dirt that accumulates on the ground during the snowy months. Some enthusiasts really care about their cars and do not want the undercarriages rusting, along with the other problems that can arise from driving in wet weather.

For those who only have one vehicle at their disposal, storing away their only car is certainly not an option. However, for people who have an SUV for the winter or can borrow a car from a family member to trek to work in, this post is very important. The steps are simple, but essential, in ensuring your car is properly stored; especially, if you want your car to start up in the spring without issue.

1. Final Car Wash and Detail

Giving your car a thorough wash both inside and out before storage is very important. Putting a car cover on a dirty car allows dirt and debris to stick to the car, and traps them inside to leave behind potential scratches. Hand-washing, polishing, detailing and waxing your car is the best way to ensure the paint is clean and beaded for covering.

It is also recommended that you put one or two containers of baking sodas inside your car and trunk to deodorize it and avoid those nasty suffocation smells. I am sure we all know that smell after a car or vacation house is locked up for a while. No one wants that.

Courtesy: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

2. Checking Your Tire Pressure

Be sure to inflate your tires to a higher air pressure before storing it away for the winter. The cold air can cause tires to lose pressure over time. Do not exceed the tire’s maximum air pressure, which can be found on the side of the tire. It is also very important that you don’t engage the parking break for storage. This is because the e-brake can become essentially frozen over time and very hard to disengage when the time comes to do so.

If you are planning on storing your car away for more than 30 days, it is recommended that you put your car on jack stands to take the weight off the suspension system and tires. This is especially important for enthusiasts with collectible cars – though, those that are mechanically inclined already know this tidbit.

3. Changing Oil & Other Fluids

It is a good idea to change your vehicle’s oil and oil filter, as well as make sure all the other fluids are topped off. Make sure your car has enough antifreeze for the winter too. If you are storing your car for six months, fuel stabilizer in the gas tank will help to prevent any corrosion in the fuel lines and engine.

You can check the measurements online to see how much fuel stabilizer should be matched to how much fuel for your specific car. You basically add fuel stabilizer to a near full tank of gas. Once all the fluids are leveled and the gas is stabilized, drive your car to get all the liquids flowing through the car one last time.

Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images /

4. Connecting To A Power Source

A battery that is unattended is prone to eventually lose its charge. Even if you are storing your car away for the winter, make sure someone is able to start the car at least once every two weeks. If you cannot keep running or driving the car for a few minutes, your other option is to disconnect the negative battery cable. This will, however, remove all your radio presets, the date and time, and some other settings.

Your best bet in this scenario is to purchase a battery tender, also called a trickle charger, which connects directly to your car battery. On the other end, this charger plugs right into a wall outlet in your garage or driveway. This product will deliver enough electrical power to your car to ensure the battery does not get discharged.

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5. Car Cover & Dry Place To Park

Last, but not least, invest in a high quality, all-weather car cover that is both waterproof and securely attached to you vehicle. There are plenty of universal and custom-fit covers that you can buy both online or in store. It is important to pay attention to the features of the car cover and buy one that is breathable and able to keep moisture out. Do not cover your vehicle with a plastic tarp, ever! This will leave scratches on the paint.

It is, of course, ideal to store a vehicle away in a safe, dry garage. There are public storage facilities available at reasonable prices, or you can find a loved one whose garage you may borrow for the time being. For those that cannot do so, a waterproof cover will keep your car clean and as dry as can be, if you have to leave it outside.

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Each person may take slightly different steps in prepping their car for winter storage. What are some of the actions you take before putting your car to sleep for the cold months? Comment below.