There are multiple reasons you might have to put your car into storage for a period of time, from studying abroad to military deployment overseas. You might think that you can just park your car in storage and leave it there like any garage, but the truth is, if you want to come back to a fully-functional motor vehicle, you’re going to have to take a few precautions first. Here’s how to prepare your car for storage:
Wash and clean your car, inside and out. After washing the outside, thoroughly cover the car with high-quality wax. This will protect the paint job. Cleaning out the inside will help make sure you don’t come back to a musty smell. Make sure the windows are cracked—but not enough to let large bugs or vermin in—as air circulation will keep the humidity down and reduce condensation, which can lead to mold and mildew. Placing an open packet of baking soda inside the car will also help with his, as baking soda absorbs moisture. Finally, polish any and all leather.
Perform basic maintenance operations. This includes, particularly, changing your oil and other fluids and replacing your filter. Fill any and all fluid tanks to the top, as this prevents condensation from forming inside. This goes for your gas tank too, which should be filled (preferably with premium, as it does not contain alcohol) and then topped off with a fuel stabilizer to prevent the gasoline from separating and becoming sticky in your tank.
Take care of your battery. For older cars, you can simply detach your battery. Newer cars contain computers that will need a constant energy supply, so use a battery maintainer. Battery maintainers will supply the car computer with enough energy while saving your battery from deterioration. You’ll want to contact a mechanic or look through your car’s manual to find the proper way to handle your car’s computer system.
Protect against dust, particulates, and bugs condensation. You’ll want to do this if you’re storing in a very dusty or humid place. Cover the bottom of the car with a sheet of vapor barrier plastic. Cover the tailpipe with a garbage bag. Open up your hood, remove the top of the air box, then cover the filter with a garbage bag.
Make sure your tires and suspension will be kept in proper formation. Fill your tires up with air. Once your vehicle is in the storage unit, prop it up on blocks so that the tires are not touching the ground. Axle stands (properly placed under the axles to keep the vehicle’s weight properly balanced on the suspension) are the best for this. If your car’s weight is on top of your tires for too long, your tires will develop flat spots.
Disengage your parking brake. An engaged parking brake will expose your brakes to the elements, which can cause them to rust and wear. Disengaging your parking brake will leave them better-connected.
By following the above steps, you should be able to safely store your car. In some cases, however, it’s still advisable to enlist a mechanic’s help, particularly if you aren’t confident in handling the more technical aspects of preparation.