You finally booked that year-long world tour as a dishwasher on a cargo ship, but as you toss mosquito netting and a voltage converter into your backpack, you suddenly realize, “What am I gonna do with my sweet ride for that whole year?!” No way are your parents going to let you park it in their garage after that science experiment mishap in high school. And as much as you love your best friend, she got her license revoked for a reason. So now what do you do?
Your wheels need to go into self storage, and storing it properly will save you possibly thousands of dollars in repairs when you finally get back to civilization. Here are some common questions about how to store your vehicle:
Where can I store my rad ‘77 Pinto while I’m away for several months or a year?
That’s a good question, because not all self storage facilities allow vehicle storage and not all places that do are created equal. If you love your baby, take the time to locate one of these facilities that specialize in storing vehicles. They will give you advice on how to prep your car, truck, boat, etc. for hibernation.
Another good question is: how the heck do you still have a Pinto? Don’t you know they explode when rear-ended?
Cars were made to be driven, so leaving them to sit around for extended periods makes them pretty sad. For an extra fee, some storage places will actually drive your car periodically (except for Pintos, if they’re smart) to make sure it doesn’t die from a broken heart before you return.
Can all vehicles be stored?
You can store cars, trucks, boats, RVs (Recreational Vehicles), motorcycles, golf carts, jet skis, bicycles, unicycles, scooters, roller skates…. You get the picture. There are no restrictions on what type of transportation method you can put in a vehicle-approved storage unit, as long as it is in running condition or on a trailer, insured, and registered (not the roller skates, of course). Just double-check with the facility manager.
Is indoor or outdoor storage best for my vehicle?
DMV.org advises storing your car indoors if at all possible. Not only is this safer because it makes it less tempting for thieves, vandals or stray cats, but a climate-controlled indoor atmosphere will prevent the sun from baking your vehicle’s dashboard or genuine pleather seats. Alternatively, if you live in Alaska, indoor storage will protect it from rain, wind, snow, and ice–not to mention prevent frisky polar bears from turning it into a shaggin’ wagon.
Do I store my vehicle with an empty or full gas tank?
The prevailing wisdom amongst the guys at Ferrari Chat (and the DMV, so not to worry) is to store the vehicle with a full tank. They also suggest adding a fuel stabilizer, such as STA-BIL, before you store it to thwart moisture and condensation from seeping into any empty spaces and rusting your gas tank. Keep in mind that different storage facilities and different states have varying laws about whether or not you can store your vehicle with a full tank.
What else should I do to prepare my car for long-term storage?
You sure you don’t want to get rid of that Pinto…? Ok then, right before you put it in storage, you should change the oil and oil filter and top up all the fluids. Wash, wax and clean your hotrod like you were entering it in a vehicle beauty pageant and make sure the antifreeze is fresh. Take out the battery and clean up all the connections, remove the spark plugs, and coat the cylinder housings with some oil. And finally: take the windshield wipers off so they won’t go all Zen on you and become one with the windshield while you’re gone.
What about the tires?
If you leave your car just sitting there, the tires are going to deteriorate and develop flat spots, and then you’ll have to get new ones. This will especially suck if you just bought new tires prior to storing your car. The best thing to do is put your vehicle up on a jack stand to take the pressure off the tires–unless, of course, you choose a storage unit where they periodically take the vehicle out for a spin. That would just be mean. If you do plan to put it up on jacks, though, fill the tires with about 10 lbs of extra pressure.
But what if I don’t know how to do any of that stuff?
You can either take it to your mechanic or choose a self storage unit where they specialize in helping you prepare your car for long-term storage. They’ll charge a bit more for these services, but it’ll cost you less in car repairs and damages when you come back to pick it up, tanned, rested, and treated for malaria.
Do you really think rats, cats, bugs and other vermin will get into my car while I’m gone?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time someone came home to find rat pellets on their cloth seats. This is why your vehicle must be devoid of errant Skittles and cookie crumbs before you say bon voyage. If your vehicle sits for the entire time, cover the tailpipe and scatter a few mothballs around to make sure your car is less attractive to rodent squatters.
If you take all these precautions, you should be ready to roll once your seafaring dishwasher days are done!
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