With winter and snow coming, some of us are getting ready to take a car off the road to prevent it from getting eaten away by the salt and snow. But, cars are meant to be driven, and leaving them sitting for even a few months can be bad for them if done improperly. So, we figured we would share some do’s and don’ts when it comes to winter storage.
Like anything in the world, location matters. When finding a place to park the car for the winter, finding a dry and safe spot can be harder than it looks. I often see people storing cars in the side yard under a car cover and tarp. This is not the route I would choose as parking a car on dirt can cause moisture to get under the car and start to rust the vehicle. Also, most car covers are not meant for outside use, trapping in moisture and constantly rubbing against the paint every time the wind blows. My advice is to find a dry garage space to store the vehicle away from the elements.
Preparation Is Key
The next step is the preparation, which mostly means going over the entire vehicle. It is always a good idea to change the oil before storing it as used oil can separate or sludge up the engine. If you don’t want to spend crazy money, a cheap oil will work as you will want to change the oil in the spring before driving the vehicle. The next step is to go through and top off all the fluids, and if you are not running antifreeze in your coolant system, you NEED to. Also, make sure to fill the tank to at least half a tank and add some fuel stabilizer to prevent the fuel from breaking down over the winter.
Tires are the next thing to pay attention to. On modern radial tires, all you have to do is pump them up to the maximum PSI rating. This will help prevent flat spots on the tires which will ruin them in the spring. If you have access to the vehicle over the winter, it is a good idea to check the pressure every month or so in case they have leaked air. If the car is not equipped with modern radial tires, it is suggested to remove the wheels and store the car safely on jack stands.
Cover It Up
Storing the car clean is the best way to prevent damage to the paint. If you are putting a car cover on, any debris or contamination on the paint can eventually grind into the paint causing damage. Likewise with contaminants on the paint, leaving them on the paint can cause them to etching into the causing major damage to the finish. Cleaning the inside is also a good idea as any food or trash can go bad or attract rodents over the winter which can cause a massive headache.
It’s Important to Vent
Once the car is in the final space, it is time to roll down the windows slightly to allow for ventilation, disconnect the battery and put on a battery tender for the winter, and thoroughly pest proof the vehicle. One way I pest proof my vehicle is by placing dryer sheets through the car. The rodents hate the smell and will avoid it. I also like to place tin foil over my air intake, and put a small ball of tin foil inside the exhaust tip. If you are extremely cautious, leaving mouse traps around the vehicle will act as a first line of defense towards the prevention of chewed wires.
A few other tips it to park the vehicle on a moisture barrier, such as a tarp, to prevent moisture from coming through the floor and damaging the undercarriage of the car. Another big tip is to let the car sit. Once all these steps are taken, leaving the car alone till spring is the best idea. Is it a myth that starting the car every few weeks is a good for it, except as the fluids settle to the bottom of the motor, starting it causes the motor to run dry for a few revolutions potentially damaging the internals.