Tucking your car away is always a big occasion, it’s like saying goodbye to a friend, one that’s going on a long holiday. It feels a bit like a breakup, but one you can prepare for. You see it’s not as easy as taking your car to a big warehouse, handing over the keys and waving bye.
Make sure you brim your tank, whether it’s petrol or diesel. Filling the tank will stop any moisture from accumulating inside during storage, it will also help keep any seals lubricated, as well as being a nice bonus when you roll your car out into the world again.
You can also add a fuel stabilising agent to help stop fuel breaking down when not in use, we’ve never personally done this, and there’s been no adverse effect, but others rate it as worthwhile.
When a car is stood in the same position, the tyres can develop a flat spot, as the name implies a section of the tyre loses its curve and ends up flat. Lots of factors can play into this happening, cheap tyres won’t help, and low pressures certainly don’t under any circumstances.
Make sure you up your pressures from the normal figure, 5 psi should be enough, it just gives them extra plump and takes into account the reduction in pressure that could occur while the car is sat.
Some go as far as saying that you should put your car on axle stands and remove the wheels if you’re storing your car for more than a month. Personally, we’ve stored cars for roughly six months on their tyres and have never had any problems. Also, bear in mind that taking the pressure off the dampers could cause them to fail as they’ve been fully extended for a prolonged period, this can especially happen with serviceable performance orientated dampers or old shocks.
Don’t use it when stored. Your handbrake clamps the rear callipers to the disk via a cable, leaving it on not only puts a strain on the cable but it can lead to your brakes seizing and sticking on, especially if there’s moisture.
Instead, leave it in gear, or if you’re really worried, purchase a set of wheel chocks.
Leaving your battery connected means your car is sapping small amounts of power continuously, this can be for the alarm, the central locking and various other systems that all need a trickle of juice to run. Disconnecting the battery is the easiest thing you can do to stop this, make sure you take off the negative first, then the positive.
If you don’t want the bother of setting the time, radio stations etc when you next start your car, it’s worth thinking about a trickle charger. Not only will this keep the battery topped up, but it will also condition it to make it last longer.
If you’re planning on storing your vehicle for a long time, then get the oil changed as a precaution. Old oil can harbour contaminants, which could damage the engine. Equally, used oil gets thicker with age, meaning it’s more likely to sludge up, which is never a good thing.
Probably an obvious one, but it’s imperative that you wash your car before storing it. Any bird mess, watermarks on insect behinds left on your vehicle can permanently damage the paintwork.
Give it a thorough going over, that means up under the arches, sills, bumpers, all the hard to reach places should be cleaned to remove road grime, tar and grease.
It’s also worth giving your car a once over with some wax, this will act as a protective shield between the paintwork and car cover. You can leave it on thick rather than buffing it off for extra protection.
Ideally, you want to regularly start your car when it’s in storage, once a month should do the trick. If you’re paranoid about flat spots, it’s also worth taking it out for a few hundred yards to get the wheels moving while you’re at it.
Naturally, most car storage companies can do this for you as part of the monthly cost, not only does it save you the time and hassle but it will mean your car is looked after as it should be, ready for its next adventure.
So there you go, six key things you should do before you place your pride and joy into storage, no matter if it’s a second car, a classic or a newly imported car they’re all easy, and the whole process shouldn’t take longer than a few hours.