There are certain instances in a car owner’s lifetime that he will need to leave his beloved steed locked up for extended periods of time. It’s almost inevitable—you’re lucky if you’ve never found yourself in such sticky situations before.
The reasons may vary—it could be for a month-long out-of-town or overseas trip, or there could be a major calamity or ongoing pandemic that’s causing everyone to stay indoors. Whatever it may be, the effect is still the same: Your car will still be left in the garage for several weeks (or months, in some cases).
So, how exactly do you store your car properly for extended periods of time? Our Top Gear PH contributors have some helpful tips, and we’ve put everything together into this tip sheet. Read on.
1) Clean and wax your car.
You won’t be using your car for weeks or even months, so it’s best to have it cleaned first before you park it. This is the first step to take in prepping for the long run. Doing this ensures no food or trash will be left inside the cabin, and any dirt that could damage the exterior will be removed. You should also get your car waxed to prevent any possible stains.
2) Fill up the tank.
“Why would I want to gas up if I won’t be using my car, anyway?” Well, you’ll only need it to run the car for just a bit—something which we’ll go into detail later. The main reason you want to fill up your tank is to prevent it from rusting from the inside once the car is left unused.
3) Overinflate the tires.
Your car will not move an inch for a long duration, so it’s essential to overinflate your tires to prevent flat spots and actual flats during storage. If you’ll be leaving the car unsued for more than a month, you can resort to removing all the wheels and jacking up the vehicle on all four corners. This might be more tedious, but it’ll ensure that the tires will be as good as you left them once it’s time to roll out the car again.
4) Put rat poison or insect chalk around the engine bay.
Before you leave your car in its temporary resting place, you can also put rat poison or insect chalk around the engine bay to keep out any unwanted critters and pests. Just be sure to keep your house pets away, if you have any.
1) Park your car under a roof; if you have no choice, use a car cover.
Once you’ve done all the necessary preparations, it’s time to park your car. If you have a covered garage, then you’re settled—just be sure that the roof doesn’t have any leaks. But if not, get yourself an all-weather car cover. We’d tell you to resort to other options like using reflective visors, for example, but those won’t really do you any good in the long run. Your only real options are parking the car under a roof or a durable sheet—there is no in between. Heck, if you have the resources and are that meticulous, why not do both?
2) Do not engage the parking brake.
Unless you’re parking your car along an inclined surface (which isn’t ideal for storage), then don’t engage your parking brake. Some mechanics say the brake pads might fuse if they come in contact with the rotors too long. You’ll be better off using a wheel chock to make sure the car will stay put. Just remember to engage the parking brake once it’s time to start the car again.
3) Use a smart battery charger to prolong battery life.
“My CTEK [battery charger] has paid for itself many times over by prolonging the life of the batteries in my cars and bikes,” our resident technical editor Joey Bernardez tells us. The follow-up question popped up just as quickly: “What if I don’t have a smart battery charger?”
Well, it’s pretty simple: If you can, start your car once a week (or have someone do it for you), and let it idle for at least 20 minutes. Take note that this is where the “fill up the tank” part comes into play. You should also turn the A/C on to keep the lines lubricated and prevent leaks. If you can, you can even drive it around the block—the longer you do, the better. These steps will keep your battery running.
But if the reality is your car will be left untouched for a long period and you don’t have a battery charger, it’s best you just disconnect your car’s battery entirely. This won’t guarantee that the battery will not be discharged, but it will slow down the process. Just come prepared when you’re ready to drive the car out of the garage again—bring an extra car or battery for jump-starting purposes or use the aforementioned battery charger.
Given you’ve followed these simple tips we’ve laid out for you, then there’s a good chance you’ll encounter minimal or zero problems when your beater’s ready to go back to its daily routine. Just remember to check inside the engine bay for possible pests or chewed wires, as well as around and under the vehicle before starting that engine. If everything’s clear, then you’re good to go.
Got any more tips for long-term car storage? Drop them in the comments.