Cars end up sitting for long periods of time for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re going on an extended vacation, or maybe you travel a lot for work, or perhaps you simply have a car that you only take out for occasional joy rides. Whatever the case, there are a few things you can do to make sure that the time your car spends in storage doesn’t reduce its value, functionality, and that it’s ready when you are.
Your vehicle needs to be protected from the elements, whether that means sun, wind, or rain. By keeping it in a garage, storage facility, or at least protected by a car cover, you ensure that it’s paint, interior, tires, and windows don’t succumb to rust, sun damage, or any other weather-related issues.
If you store your vehicle, it is a good idea to find someone who will clean, wax, and treat it with something to protect the exterior paint on a regular basis.
Once again, this is about protecting your car’s appearance. Bird droppings, condensation, and other issues, if left unattended, can damage your car’s paint over time.
If your car will only be in storage for a week or two, changing the oil isn’t necessary. But if you’ll be letting it sit for more than a month, you should make sure that it has fresh oil and a new oil filter. Old oil is highly corrosive, and will cause damage over time.
Top Off the Tank
A lot of people make the mistake of letting their car sit for an extended period on an empty tank of gas. This results in the buildup of moisture and rust.
In addition to filling up the tank, you’re also going to want to add a fuel stabilizer that will keep the gas from breaking down and damaging the fuel line and engine.
Keep Up a Charge
Over time, an unused car battery loses its charge. This can be avoided by having someone start it up and driving it around for a few minutes every couple of weeks.
The occasional driving also helps keep the engine and other parts properly lubricated. Think of it as allowing the car to stretch its legs.
Prevent Flat Spots
Having someone drive the car every once in a while also changes the position of the tires and raises their temperature, which helps to prevent them from developing flat spots that will reduce your gas mileage and ride quality.
Keep Out the Animals
A dormant car can quickly become an apartment for mice, squirrels, rats, and other small animals. There’s really not much you can do to prevent it from happening. Instead, your best bet is to ask someone to check over the car occasionally to clean out any infestations.
Once it’s time to drive again, be sure to check things like tire pressure, the brakes (which may have accumulated rust), windshield wipers (for cracks in the rubber), and fluids. If you’ve had someone looking in on your car over the course of its storage, you shouldn’t find too many issues.
But if you’ve let it sit for a really long time, it’s not a bad idea to have it checked over by a professional who can spot any of the many easy to miss problems that might have arisen.