With the growth in the number of vehicles leading to congested roads, a lot of Americans are now opting to drive their cars less and store them instead.
If you have in mind to store your car, you should know what things to do for your car to keep the engine alive and well. The instructions that come with the car from the manufacturer cannot always be depended on to understand what should be done to a car in storage.
While storing a car, you should first consider why you are storing it and for how long you plan on keeping it in storage. There are different ways to treat your car, depending on how long you wish to keep it in storage. Your car may stay idle for a short semester or a year, depending on your needs.
If you preserve the longevity of your car, it could lead to longer storage. The way you prepare your car for storage determines how often you should start your car in storage.
There are three kinds of car storage which are discussed below:
- Short-term Storage
If you are going to store your car for only a few months, only a little preparation is necessary for the car before you put it away. You need to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank to avoid the need to use other fuel sources as a replacement. The battery is the core of the car. Note that it is important to maintain the car’s battery as it can prolong the efficiency of the car for months.
Starting a car in short-term storage needs minimal effort. It may only be required to start the car in an interval of two to three weeks to avoid any damage to the car.
When starting your car, make sure that it runs long enough to reach its working temperature. The increase in the temperature warms up the car and dries the condensed fluids from the crankcase as well as the fuel system. Also, give the engine light revs before you shut it down as it drives unwanted diffused liquid from exhaust molecules.
Cars that are stored for hibernation may sit idle for a little over a half year. For longer storage such as this type, it is recommended to empty the fuel system and remove the battery. You can charge the battery and install it when required. However, before you charge the battery, keep a check on the acid level. There should be the right level of acid. You can also replenish the battery with distilled water. For full functionality of the car, fresh fuel along with a system cleaner should be used.
It is mandatory to check the performance of your car by running and testing it before you decide to take it out on a trip. You should also test the fluid levels and brakes before making any distance trip.
For instance, if there have been no necessary provisions made for your car before storing it, you might want to consider a professional inspection of the car as well as a change of oil.
- Long-term Storage
This type of storage is for cars which are put in an idle mode without a definite plan on when it would be used again.
You may have removed the spark plugs from the engine so that you can add oil on the cylinder tops. The fuel system, as well as the tank, may have been empty for a long time. After replacing the plugs and checking the fuel lines for leaks, you might need to install a new battery to give proper cranking power.
You can also flush and fill the coolant while the engine is running; however, do this only when the car’s full functionality is restored.
You might also need to flush and fill the brake fluids as well as the gearbox oils when you are starting a car stored for a long period.
Professional mechanics can provide instructions to the owner of the car about the most efficient way to store their cars based on their climate differences.
Risks of Storing a Car for too Long
While storing a car, keep in mind that a car can get damaged if it is left stagnant for too long. Condensation can build up in the gearbox and the crankcase, which can change the lubricants’ chemical compositions.
Even though some oils may reduce severe damage to some covered parts, it provides no protection to the exposed parts if it has no circulation. Components that are made of rubber may distort and dry out with time. Tires and suspension parts may deform and become unusable if left idle for too long.
Starting a car now and then could prevent some misbehaving of the car but nothing is better than actually driving it for at least two times every month to avoid total disrepair.
Preventive Measures to Take While Storing a Car
While storing a car for an extended period, precautionary steps should be taken as to keep the car functional and avoid the possible risks of permanent damage.
A source by the insurance provider Allstate states that if your car is stored for an extended period, you should always remember that the battery is the car’s power.
There is nothing which can drain a battery more than cold weather. It is advisable to park your car in a garage to protect it from the cold. If you have no garage, you can park your car with its front-facing a building, considering that the building offers the car more protection from cold than exposing the car to open air.
You can prevent long-term damage to the car by entirely removing the battery and keeping it somewhere safe. You can get a trickle charger or a float mode battery tender to ensure that the battery does not get overcharged. The trickle charger should be disconnected before you start your car. Let your car start long enough to reach the ideal temperature, which is necessary to lubricate the parts.
There is also a different method where you can disconnect the negative terminal. This particular option should be done during warmer seasons, and it cannot be used as a permanent option as the battery will continue to drain if it is left dormant for too long. Note that disconnecting the negative terminal is safer than the positive one which could possess risks like burns or worse.
Steps to Prepare Your Car for Storage
Here are some brief tips you can use while preparing your car for storage.
- Clean your car
First of all, while storing a car, empty the car and give it a thorough cleaning to avoid damage from fluctuations. The cleaner the car is, the better it is in providing protection.
- Conduct a home preparation for car maintenance
Prepare your car for storage such as replacing the oils and fluids and filling your car up with premium oils for better sustainability.
- Talk to your local storage company to provide transit
If you have a storage company that includes transportation, it can offer you the highest quality assistance for your car to storage.
- Make preparations at the storage destination
Make sure to double-check your battery status once you have reached the storage space. You may also want to remove the wheels as it deflates over time.
- Make sure your car is safe in the storage place
Take the handbrake off to prevent it from getting stuck and leave your car either in neutral or in park.
- Maintain a follow-up
Let your service provider give you periodical condition reports of your car. You can also go and visit your car in person to check if it is holding out well.
- Prepare to drive your car after storage
You cannot prepare to drive away as soon as you get the car out from storage. Once the storage period is over, you should make a general inspection of your car and ensure everything is alright before you take it out on the road.
The answer to how often you should start your car in storage depends vastly on the type of car, the reason why it is stored, and how it has been prepared and left for storage.
A car that is regularly used should be started at least once a week. Make sure to keep driving the car until it reaches the optimal temperature. However, if a car is well prepared before storage, you can leave it just like that for an extended period.
While your car is in storage, it is recommended to use the air conditioning at least once in two months so that the seals do not dry up.
While storing a car is sometimes necessary, keep in mind not to abandon it for too long as an extended period of inactivity can damage your car and make it fall in disrepair.