Tips and Tools:
How to Store a Car for Winter
Shoveling the driveway, warming your car up for 15 minutes before leaving, scraping ice off your windshield- having a car in the winter can be more of a hassle than advantage. Instead of dealing with all the winter annoyances that come with owning a car, many people choose to store their car for the season. However, even off the street, your car’s engine, interior, and body may still be prone to damage. Prep and store your car correctly, though, and it’ll be ready to drive again once the weather warms up.
If spark plugs sit for an extended time, they can start to rust and seize; you (or your mechanic) can prevent this by spraying the cylinders with fogging oils. Gasoline can oxidize when left unburned and clog up your gas lines, so make sure to fill your gas tank with premium non-alcohol fuel and add fuel stabilizer to stop the oxidation. You can prevent old oil from becoming acidic and causing engine damage by changing the oil and filters. Similarly, low fluid levels (in your coolant, clutch, brake, and windshield tanks) will leave space for condensation, so change and top off all your fluid levels before storing your car.
Car batteries are typically charged by running the engine, and they may die in an unused car. If you have an older vehicle, disconnect your battery before storage; in newer vehicles, keep the battery connected and use a trickle charged to power any onboard computers. Finally, park your car on a plastic drop sheet to catch any fluid leaks and avoid staining your garage or storage unit.
Damage from the sun can crack vinyl and fade leather, while dried paper can cause your speakers to blow, making it essential to store your car indoors; if you have to store your car outdoors, cover the entire vehicle. Small critters might find your vehicle a warm and comfortable home for the winter, but chances are you don’t want to get into your car for the first time and find that a family of opossums has made your backseat their home; prevent this by closing vents, rolling up the windows, and stuffing a rug in your exhaust and covering it with a metal screen.
Wiper blades can stick to your windshield, especially if left outdoors; store your blades in the “out” position, or, alternatively, wrap the blades in plastic. Your wheel wells might also suffer corrosion and paint damage unless you give your car a thorough wash and wax beforehand, paying special attention to eradicating dirt in the wheel wells.
Exposure and temperature changes can damage your tires, so inflate your tires to the proper pressure level before storing; check to see if over-inflation is recommended for your car. Make sure to disengage your parking brake so that your brake pads don’t stick to the rotors, and use wheel chocks instead to prevent accidental movement. Finally, only store your car on blocks if you use bias ply tires; while older bias ply tires need to be jacked off the ground to prevent them from settling, leaving shock absorbers extended and exposed can cause them to rust.
Putting your car into hibernation for the winter can save you a lot of trouble over the colder months, and with these tips for storing your car, you can safely put your car in storage and know that it’ll be in great condition when you’re ready to take it out for a spin again.
Even better? We have locations all over Illinois, so your belongings are never far from home.