How to Winterize your Car for Storage
Winter can be brutal on any vehicle, whether it’s a brand new car, used car, or vintage hot rod. Freezing temperatures, snow buildup, animal infestation, and salt damage from the roads can all deteriorate your vehicle. If you plan on keeping your car in storage through the winter season, it’s best to winterize it before locking it up.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE VEHICLE STORAGE
Select Location: The ideal storage location for your vehicle is a dry, dark location with limited access and blocked from the elements. Concrete floors are best to keep away any moisture.
Set the Flooring: If you must store your vehicle on a dirt or grass floor, place a plastic barrier under the car and carpet or plywood under the tires.
Wash/Wax the Car: Before storing, it’s a good idea to give it a good wash and wax. Putting on and removing the vehicle cover could scratch the paint if the car is dirty.
Fill the Tank: Be sure to fill the gas tank with fuel (preferably premium gasoline) prior to storing the vehicle. The more gas in the tank, the less room there will be for air. Air in the tank for an extended period of time can lead to fuel contamination and possibly rust within the tank.
Change the Oil/Filter: Before storage, change the oil and oil filter in your car. Clean oil will reduce the risk of harmful contaminants working through your engine components.
Check and Refill the Antifreeze: This seems obvious to do during the winter months, but some people forget. Check to make sure the antifreeze is not watery and add however much it needs to be full.
Air the Tires: Make sure the tires are full with air as sitting for long periods of time on low or flat tires can damage the rubber and rim.
Check with your Insurance Company: Some insurance companies require you to report if your vehicle is stored outside of your property in case of vehicle theft or damage.
STORING YOUR VEHICLE FOR WINTER
Baking Soda: Place freshly opened boxes of baking soda in your car’s interior and trunk areas.
Cover Openings: Use aluminum foil or plastic bags to cover all openings of your car to prevent bugs and insects from getting in. Openings include exhaust pipes, air cleaner/air inlet, etc. Place mothballs or steel wool in your tail pipes and mothballs around the outside of your vehicle.
Place Vehicle on Jacks: Putting your vehicle up on four jack stands will prevent your tires from forming flat spots over the storage period.
Unhook the Battery: Starting with the negative cable first, unhook both battery terminals. It’s a good idea to store the battery separately and never on a concrete floor.
Close all Windows: Make sure all windows and door shut securely. If they don’t, tape up the openings.
Cover the Vehicle: Securely cover the vehicle with a weatherproof cover or tarp.
Starting a Vehicle in Storage: There are varying theories on when and how often you should start your vehicle when it’s in storage through the winter season. Some argue that it’s not a good idea to start it during freezing temperatures unless you run the engine for over 10 minutes. Starting the vehicle in cold temps can potentially leave water in the combustion chamber and exhaust components.
TAKING THE VEHICLE OUT OF WINTER STORAGE
Uncover the Vehicle: Take off the vehicle cover and inspect the car for damage or vermin infestation. Check for fluid leaks.
Charge the Battery: Give the car battery a good 24-hour charge. Clean all battery connections and attach the battery with the positive cable first.
Clean out the Winter Storage Items: Remove the baking soda, aluminum foil, steel wool, plastic bags, tape, moth balls, and any other winter storage products.
Check the Brakes: Apply the brakes to ensure they work properly. Brake lines can rust out, especially in the winter. Also, vermin can chew through lines and hoses during storage.
Take it off Jacks: Lower the vehicle of off the jack stands and make sure to add air to the tires before driving.
Start the Vehicle: Once it’s started, check again for fluid leaks or anything out of the ordinary.
Move it Slowly: Some vehicle components, such as the transmission and rear-ends require movement for full and proper lubrication. Slowly drive it a mile or so and stop to check it out.
Refill Fluids: Check all fluid levels and fill them to their proper mark. Transmission fluid requires that the engine is warmed up, so run it for 20 minutes before checking to see if it’s full.
You are now clear to hit the open road! Take care of you cars and they will take care of you.