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How to prepare your automobile for long term storage.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

How to prepare your automobile for long term storage.

Jason Miller
September 26, 2005

If you are leaving town for an extended period of time or are storing a vehicle for seasonal use, there are several things you can do to protect your automobile and insure it will be ready for use when you retrieve it. Taking the time to prepare your car right will save you a lot of grief and money later on.

The first step is to find a suitable location for long term storage. This is critical. The location should be secure, dry and clean. Putting it in a dusty barn is probably one of the worst places for you car. Make sure the storage place is dry and free of moisture. Moisture, humidity and condensation are the biggest hazards to exterior, interior and engine. Rust and corrosion can form on exposed metal and mold and mildew can grow in the interior as well. The best place is a climate controlled storage facility. Just look under storage in the yellow pages and there should be some options for you.

Also, you will need to rodent proof your storage as well. Rats can destroy the wiring system. They can also get into the interior and build nests there. One option is to place rat poison or some other pest control device around the car. Ma If the storage unit has power to it, I would recommend getting a noise box that repels rats and mice. You can buy them at your local hardware store. These are very safe and will not hurt pets or children.

Once you have picked a suitable location, it is time to prepare your car.

Step one is to change the oil and replace it with a synthetic. Changing the oil before storage will reduce moisture in the system and help prevent corrosion in the engine. The reason for synthetic oil is because of the coating properties and it will not break down as quickly as conventional oil.

Now you will need to fill the gas tank completely full. Most people siphon out the gas and leave the tank empty. This is not correct and the moisture left in the empty tank will encourage rust. Fill the tank as high as you can and leave it. This will prevent moisture from forming and prevent rust accumulation. It is also prudent to add in a gas stabilizer as well.

The next step is the battery. If the vehicle is in for short term storage, you may want to hook up battery charger to the battery. This will insure all electrical equipment like stereo will have power and any saved settings will be there when you return. For longer periods of time, remove the battery. Batteries can crack and leak acid everywhere. In this case it is best to just remove it and replace it when you return.

The next area to prepare is the external weather stripping and tires. The best product to use for this is a lithium grease. Stay away from petroleum based products. They will eventually dry out and crack the rubber. To apply the grease, spray it on a rag first and then wipe it on the tires and weather stripping. Be sure to cover the gaskets in the doors, sunroof and trunk.

For the interior, use a leather or vinyl conditioner. This will safeguard these surfaces from cracking and drying.

The last step is to thoroughly clean the exterior. After you have washed it, apply a coat of wax and buff it out. If you have an air buffer, this process will be a lot easier and will be more effective. Then cover the car with a good quality car cover. If you follow these basic steps, your expensive automobile should be in the same shape you left it before your journey.

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