Winter brings with it quite a few difficulties- lower temperatures, icy streets, snow days, and more- and unfortunately, many of these irritations make it harder than usual to drive a car. Instead of waking up thirty minutes early every day to shovel the snow around your car, warm it up, and scrape the ice off your windshields, why not consider putting your car in indoor self storage unit for the winter?
Storing your car indoors for the winter will save you the time and hassle of trying to care for and drive a car in dangerous winter conditions. However, don’t think you can just park your car in the garage for the winter and toss your keys in the junk drawer- that could lead to damage to your car’s engine, exterior, and interior. You need to prepare your car for winter storage so that when the temperatures rise and your windows go down, your car is in tip-top shape and ready to drive. Here’s how to do it.
First, make sure your engine is ready to hunker down for the winter. Your spark plugs, when left unattended for a long time, can rust and seize, so you (or a mechanic) should spray the cylinders with fogging oil. The gas in your tank can oxidize when not used, which will clog up your gas lines, so fill your tank with premium, non-alcohol fuel and add fuel stabilizer to stop oxidation.
Similarly, you want to change and fill up all of your fluid levels to reduce condensation; this includes your coolant, clutch, brake, and windshield fluids. The condensation can rise after forming beneath your car, causing fluid leaks that stain your garage or storage unit, so park your car on a plastic drop sheet. Change your car’s oil and filters, since old oil can become acidic and cause engine damage. Finally, in older vehicles, disconnect your battery. If you have a newer vehicle, your onboard computers need constant power, so keep the battery connected and use a trickle charger.
Your car’s body and interior also needs a little prep work before hibernation. Store your car indoors, if possible, since sun damage can crack vinyl and cause leather to fade, and drying of paper can cause speakers to blow. If that’s not possible, cover your entire vehicle with a cloth. Close your vents and roll up the windows (cracking one window slightly if stored indoors), and stuff a rag in your exhaust and cover it with a metal screen; this will deter small animals from making your car their warm winter home.
Your windshield wiper blades can stick to the windshield, especially if left outside, so store them in the “out” position or wrap the blades in plastic. Wash and wax your car thoroughly before storing it, paying special attention to the dirt in wheel wells- corrosion and paint damage are a major concern in coastal areas and during winter.
Exposure and changes in temperature can break down your tires, so inflate your tires to the proper pressure level and check to see if over-inflation is recommended for your car. Instead of leaving your parking brake on (which can cause your brake pads to stick to the rotors), disengage the parking brake and use wheel chocks. Finally, unless you use bias ply tires, don’t store your car on blocks; leaving shock absorbers extended and exposed to the elements can cause them to rust.
Your car is one of your most valuable possessions, but if you store it improperly for the winter, you’ll end up spending extra money to fix the damage that’s been caused. Instead, take these few basic steps that can be seen in the infographic below to store your car safely for winter, and until then, daydream of warmer times when you get to crank the AC instead of the heat.