Putting Your Car into Storage for Winter
Thinking of putting a treasured automobile into storage for winter? If so, what are the key things you need to do to prepare if for storage? Read on for some expert advice.
Why would you put your car into storage for winter? Maybe you like driving your classic convertible in the summer months, when the weather’s bright and you can safely put the top down and cruise around to your heart’s content, but you’d rather ride a safe run-around or a low cost 4×4 during the more turbulent cold seasons. If this is the case then you may want to put your cool vehicle into storage for this period.
So, what are the key things you need to do to prepare your treasured automobile for storage?
Clean and Cover
The first thing to do when preparing your car for winter storage is to clean down all the bodywork. This is a very simple step that may seem a little counter-intuitive, as you’re probably thinking that you can wash down your car when it comes out of storage, but giving your car a good once-over will remove any kind of spills and stains that could potentially damage your car’s paintwork whilst it is in storage.
You’ll also want to cover your vehicle whilst it is in storage to prevent the build up of dust in nooks and crannies on the vehicle’s exterior.
Check Your Oil and Fuel
As the oil and fuel in your car are going to be inside it for a number of months, you may want to make sure that these liquids are as clean as possible. Try to find an oil that’s free of any kind of additives – some oils are known to contain caustic detergents – and substitute it for the oil in your car. You may also want to get another oil change the moment you take the car out of storage.
It’s also important to make sure the fuel tank is full, as a partially or nearly empty tank gives water in the petrol room to evaporate, causing condensation within the tank. You may also want to add a stabilising agent to the petrol so that it will stay fresh while your vehicle is stationary.
Windscreen Wiper Worries
Even though winter is cold, this doesn’t always mean there is a lot of moisture in the atmosphere. Freezing temperatures can cause the air to become especially dry, which can damage the rubber components on your car. This should be no problem for seals that are in contact with liquids; however, there is a danger that your windscreen wiper blades can dry out and stick to the windscreen.
There are a number of things you can do about this – including removing the blades completely or placing cling-film around the wipers. This is good advice if you’re covering the car, as it will be difficult to leave the blades in a position where they’re away from the windscreen.
Don’t Ruin Your Tyres
If you’re going to store your car in one place for a long period of time, flat spots can develop in the tyres. Some types of tyres are better at resting in one place than others – you can check on the manufacturer’s website to find out the best way to take care of your car’s tyres whilst it is in storage. You can also take the following steps to avoid flat spots:
- Inflate Fully – By making sure that your tyres are inflated to their maximum capacity, you should be able to ensure that they stay firm all winter and do not lose air, preventing the dreaded flat spots.
- Jack It Up – If you do not want to remove the wheels from your car (see below) then you may want to jack up your car so that the wheels are no longer in contact with the garage floor surface. It is also possible to purchase special tyre trainers – durable plastic mats that go under your vehicle’s tyres, helping to preserve the round shape.
- Remove – If you do not have enough car jacks to support your vehicle then you may wish to remove the wheels altogether and put the car up on bricks. This is a fairly extreme measure and you should always look at the other alternatives first.
Alternatives to Brakes
Experts advise you to refrain from engaging the handbrake on your vehicle when it’s in storage over the winter months, as the pads can stick and damage the operation. If you’re jacking your car up or removing the wheels completely then this shouldn’t be a problem for you, but if you’re leaving the tyres in contact with the garage floor then simply consider putting angular pieces of wood – or chocks – under the wheels to stop any movement.
It’s a well known fact that leaving your car alone for some time will cause the battery to slowly lose charge. The cold weather will speed up this process, as the drop in temperature can actually help drain the battery’s power and knock it out completely. A simple solution to this is to purchase a trickle charger, which can then be used to regularly add charge to your battery, making sure that you keep it topped up with power for the summer months.
Whilst many authorities on car care recommend that you leave your windows slightly open when putting it into storage for winter, always make sure that any gap is not large enough to allow small mice and rats to enter into your vehicle as they will be looking for somewhere warm to survive the harsher climate and can damage your seats and upholstery.
You may even want to put a rag into your exhaust to prevent these rodents from climbing into your engine, which could cause you problems with the operation of the vehicle when you get it back on the road.
Finally – Get it on the Road
The modern car was designed to be driven. It’s important that you get your car out on the road as soon as you possibly can after any period of storage, not just one over the winter months.
Take your car out onto a large road or dual carriageway and push it up to the national speed limit for a good period of time, allowing the pistons to work fully, which will drive out any dirt or debris that’s collected within the engine. This will also ensure that the car reaches the optimum operating temperature and gives the fluids a vital chance to circulate.
Don’t leave your car in storage for a moment longer than you have to. As soon as the weather is looking good and the snow and frost have left the ground, put the keys in the ignition and go.
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