If you are planning to not use your car for a significant period of time, you may want to take precautionary measures to ensure your vehicle stays in tip top condition. If you’re going away on a long trip, the last thing you want is to leave your car gathering dust in the garage or getting covered in bird poo on the driveway. If you are looking to store your car correctly to avoid mechanical issues, here are the steps you should take.
Change the oil and filter
If your car is being stored for an extended period of time, specifically years rather than months, you should talk to a mechanic about using oils that do not have additives. Using oil with rust inhibitors and detergent/dispersants will help to reduce the sludge that can build up in the engine over time.
Fill tank with premium fuel
Stored vehicles frequently face the issue of condensation in the tank. It is widely suggested that car owners should fill the tank to the top with Premium non-alcohol fuel in order to prevent any empty space where water can accumulate. However, there is always the danger that petrol will become “gummy” over time and block the filters. It is recommended that car owners add a petrol stabiliser to prevent this from happening. If your car still has the normal fuel in its tank, or you have forgotten to use premium petrol, Wrong Fuel Expert can provide a fast and efficient fuel removal service.
If you are storing your vehicle over the winter months in a cold climate, you should consult your manual to check for the appropriate pressures. Over inflation while in storage may help to prevent flat spots on the tyres. When the vehicle is driven again, car owner should expect thumping tyres until they have driven ten miles or so.
Clean and wax
Before putting your car into storage you should always give it a thorough clean and wax. You should especially focus on removing dirt from the wheel wells. Ensure you also clean the interior extensively, especially food remains as this may attract unwanted attention from small animals. Remove any floor carpets to prevent them from becoming unnecessary musty. You should try to use cleaning products that do not contain water, as the water may get trapped inside the car.
Use a battery maintainer
These batteries are an intelligent solution for anyone who is leaving their vehicle for an extended period of time. These battery chargers only turn on periodically in order to extend the battery life. If you are leaving your vehicle for only a few months and you’re comfortable with basic mechanics, it’s recommended you remove the battery and attach the maintainer to it outside of the car. If you do this, you need to ensure have written down any access codes for devices such as the stereo.
Wrap or remove windscreen wipers
If you leave the windscreen wipers unprotected against the windscreen, the rubber may end up sticking to the glass. Wrap a piece of cling film around the wipers to prevent this from happening, or better yet, remove the wipers altogether. If you do remove them, be sure to pad the ends of the wiper arms. These could scratch the windscreen if they were to be inadvertently turned on. If you aren’t using a cover for your vehicle, store the wipers in the ‘out’ position.
Oil the spark plugs
As long as you are comfortable with basic mechanics, you should remove the spark plugs and spray them with a small amount of oil. This should coat the interior of the cylinders in order to prevent rusting. When you covered them with oil, simply insert the plugs again. There is special ‘fogging oil’ available that is typically used for boats, but works well in cars for this purpose.
Use axle stands
If the period of time that you are leaving your car is considered ‘extensive’, it may be advisable to jack your car up on axle stands to avoid flat spots in the tyres. Classic cars with fat bias-ply tyres should be jacked up if stored for more than a month, but a modern sports car should be fine on the ground for a few months.
Release the parking brake
You may be tempted to put on the hand brake when leaving your vehicle, to ensure that it is harder to move when applying external force. However, if left for a long period of time the brake pads can stick to the rotors. Place wood under the tyres to prevent movement, and this should be equally (if not more) effective than using the brake.
Lock the doors and cover
Naturally, you should always lock the doors of your vehicle no matter whether you are storing it inside or out. The last thing you want to return to is a stolen vehicle. If you are storing your vehicle outdoors and you have locked the doors, use a cover to protect the vehicle from dust or damage. Never use a cover for indoor storage as water vapour will need to leave the car during humid weather.