ASK GARY: How Should I Store My Car During the Winter?
Winter months can include a great deal of travel, whether a long ski-trip, visits to family, or a fortunate retreat from the chilling weather. Amidst all the preparations and packing, it may be easy to overlook the vehicle you’re leaving behind. Colder temperatures can wreak havoc on automobiles, and anyone who plans on spending more than a few weeks away from home should take the proper accommodations for their vehicle’s protection. Here are a few tips.
1. Keep your vehicle out of the elements
Keep your automobile out of snow and rough weather conditions. Park your car in the garage, and consider covering it with a plastic car cover.
2. Prepare the body of your vehicle
Thoroughly wash your car in preparation for storage. Think of this as prescriptive wash, and not merely a cosmetic one. Clean every painted surface, including inside the wheel well to ensure that sediments accumulated from driving do not damage your vehicle’s body. A fresh coat of wax will also prevent rust from forming.
3. Prevent rodents from finding their way inside
Vacuum the interior of your vehicle, paying special attention to the cracks and tight spaces. Leftover food is a great way to attract rodents, which are rarely a welcome sight. Stuffing your tailpipe with steel wool is a good way to prevent any creatures from living inside there. Just remember to take it out when you start driving again!
4. Take care of your fuel tank
Completely fill up on gasoline before storing your car –a partially-filled tank is prone to becoming watered down as the gasoline compresses due to the temperature drop, which can damage your engine. For drivers leaving their cars for over a month, add fuel stabilizer to your tank, in order to preserve the gasoline’s composition over extended periods of time.
5. Replace all fluids
Engine oil and coolant should be replaced prior to extended storage, as well as the oil filter. Switching out the old fluid guarantees that when you finally start driving your vehicle again, the fluids are not laden with engine deposits.
6. Keep the load on your tires to a minimum
Be sure to remove all unnecessary weight from your vehicle, then elevate your vehicle on jack-stands –this will reduce the amount of stress placed on the suspension. Do not leave the parking brake on, as it may fuse to the brake pads. Inflate tires to the maximum recommended PSI in order to reduce the likelihood of flat spots.
7. Remove the battery
Extended periods of inactivity are very bad for car batteries. If your vehicle’s storage environment will be especially cold, remove the battery entirely and place it in a more suitable climate. Using a battery-maintainer will keep your battery from discharging without overcharging it. For storage under 2-3 weeks, disconnecting the negative terminal of the battery should suffice.
Enjoy your vacation!