10 Long Term Car Storage Tips and Checklist


Every October, I like to park my Corvette in a garage for the winter. Okay, I don’t own a Corvette, but if I did, I’d take care of it! Truth is, there is more than one reason to find long term car storage aside from owning an expensive car.

You might have a vintage car that you only take out a few times in the summer for the car shows and cruise nights. Maybe you’re going on an extended vacation or work project abroad. Military deployment is another cause to look for long term car storage. Regardless of the reason, if you’re looking for long term storage, you want your car to be protected and run well once you take it out. Here are a few long term car storage tips to help you out.

Long Term Car Storage

  1. Fill up the tank
  2. Change the oil
  3. Put the car on jacks
  4. Wash and wax
  5. Plug the tailpipe
  6. Don’t use the parking brake
  7. Park your car on a plastic sheet
  8. Clean and dust the interior
  9. Cover your car
  10. Park your vehicle in the right spot

Fill up the tank

Before you park our ride in long term car storage, make sure you’ve filled up the tank. Whatever you leave empty has the chance to rust and will cause you a headache later on.

Fuel pumps

Another tip is to add something like corrosion inhibitor fuel stabilizer. Doing so only will help you avoid any internal tank damage. If you do add these extra liquids to your tank, drive around for a bit to make sure the mixed fuel can spread into the rest of the engine.

Be aware that if you’re storing for longer than a year or two, the fuel will be useless, anyway. The gas you’re putting is a preventative measure. You shouldn’t plan to drive on it after several years and will need to empty your fuel tank and refill it.

Change the Oil

Like fuel, you also want to replace the oil. Used engine oil contains material that could damage the engine if it’s left in the car too long. An oil change will make it so you have less to worry about when you pull the car out a few months or years down the line. You can also apply lubricant to the other parts of your engine to keep them greased and clean.

Put the car on jacks

If you’ll be storing longer than a few months, you may consider putting your car on jacks. Long term car storage means your tires will have consistent weight on the same part of the tire. If you can access the car regularly, you can take it out for a spin every couple of weeks to keep the tires fresh. Otherwise, if left in the same spot, it could cost you a new pair of tires once you take the car out of long term storage.

Do be aware of what type of car body you have. Some will not do well on jacks and could end up warping the structure. Check your car manual first to see if you find any information. You can also check online forums.

Wash and wax

While you should always keep your car washed, it’s especially important to wash the car, and even wax it, before you put it into long term storage. Dirt, grease, and other sorts of debris and dust on the car will wreak havoc long term. The wax adds another level of protection between the metal and the elements.

Wash car before long term storage

Plug the tailpipe

The logic behind plugging your tailpipe for long term car storage is to keep the critters and moist air out. Any hole into the car is a way for undesirables to climb inside. You can plug the tailpipe with aluminum foil or a rag… just be sure to take it out before you drive again.

You may want to do a quick scan of the car to see if there are other entry points. Some include the air intake and loose windows. Another way to keep animals and bugs away from the car is to layout mothballs or cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil around the perimeter of the car. Mouse traps work great for the bigger animals.

Don’t use the parking brake

Here’s a quick and easy long term car storage tip: don’t use the parking brake. If the parking brake connects for too long, it can fuse with the interior of the wheel. Instead, use a wheel chock, or, if you’re feeling cheap, a piece of wood to stop the tires.

Park your car on a plastic sheet

There are two benefits to parking on a sheet during long term car storage. First, it will keep any drips off the floor. Cars leak. There’s no way around it sometimes. A sheet will help keep the concrete or other types of floors fresh. Second, a sheet will prevent oils from the ground to creep up onto the wheels.

Clean and dust the interior

Cleaning the inside of your vehicle for long term car storage is a whole other topic that could deserve its own article. You should vacuum and dust, as well as wash the interior windows. If you’ve got leather in the car, consider prepping and cleaning it with water and soap or saddle soap. Be aware of what you’re storing in the car. Check the glove compartments and trunk and remove anything that smells or might deteriorate over time.

Cover your car

Covering your car is the last step in prepping the entire car for long term storage. Don’t use a sheet, duvet, or tarp. Not only do these fail to cover the car tightly enough, but they also don’t provide the right kind of breathability. If moisture sneaks between the cover and the car, it can damage the paint and metal. A real car cover is made from fibers that are soft and breathable while still wrapping tightly around the car.

Park your vehicle in the right spot

Lehi Car storage pad
A key aspect of long term car storage is finding the right storage location. While traditional self storage facilities are a popular option, there are other options that are more affordable and safe.

At Neighbor storage, you can store your car in the garage or facility of someone in your community. For example, one neighbor renter stores their sports car in someone’s garage just down the road from his house. You could also park it outside on someone’s RV pad.  It’s close enough so he can check on it often, and he doesn’t have to risk storing it in a cinderblock box in an industrial area of town.

Neighbor is also considerably more affordable than storage units. A typical 10×20 storage unit costs close to $125-160. On Neighbor, the same size of spaces goes from $60-100.

If you’re looking to for long term car storage, start with Neighbor.

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Unused Space

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