How to Store a Car Outside Long Term: Essential Protection Tips

Storing a car outside for an extended period requires careful planning to ensure the vehicle remains in optimal condition, despite the challenges posed by the elements.

We understand the importance of protecting your investment. With the right precautionary measures, it is entirely feasible to maintain your car’s health even when it’s not nestled comfortably in a garage.

Factors such as weather protection, safety, and ongoing maintenance come into play. It’s crucial to address each one comprehensively.

A car covered with a fitted car cover, parked on a level surface, with the tires properly inflated and a full tank of gas

Weather can be particularly unforgiving, with everything from scorching sun to freezing snow potentially damaging your car. Therefore, choosing the appropriate car cover is vital.

A high-quality cover that’s designed specifically for outdoor use can shield your vehicle from harmful UV rays, moisture, and debris.

In addition, we look at measures like topping off liquids, including the coolant, to prevent engine parts from freezing or overheating.

Safety and security considerations are equally significant when storing a car outside. Beyond the natural elements, there are risks of theft and vandalism. Consequently, we take steps like parking in a well-lit area and using wheel locks.

For maintenance, even when stationary, cars need care. Fluids should be checked and topped up, the battery should be kept charged, and the tires ought to be properly inflated or removed if it will be stored for a particularly long time.

Selecting the Right Storage Location

When storing a car long-term outdoors, selecting an appropriate location is crucial for protection against environmental threats and ensuring the vehicle’s safety. Here, we’ll guide you through the benefits of different storage options and the critical factors in choosing the best outdoor storage facility.

Benefits of Indoor Versus Outdoor Car Storage

Indoor Car Storage:

  • Provides superior protection from environmental elements such as rain, snow, and UV rays.
  • Ensures better security measures to protect against theft or vandalism.

Outdoor Car Storage:

  • May be more cost-effective and accessible for some.
  • With the right precautions, it can be a viable option, especially if using specialized covers or structures like carports.

Important Factors in Choosing a Storage Facility

Location: Choose a spot away from large trees to prevent sap and debris damage. Proximity to buildings can offer some wind shielding.
Accessibility:

Ensure the facility is easily accessible for when you need to use your car or perform maintenance.

Environmental Protection Security Level
Look for a well-drained area to prevent standing water that can accelerate rusting. Opt for a facility with good lighting, security cameras, or on-site personnel.
Ensure adequate ventilation to prevent moisture buildup that can lead to mold. Pick a facility with controlled access, such as fencing or a gated entrance.

Preparing Your Car for Storage

Storing a car outside for an extended period requires careful preparation to protect it from weather, pests, and mechanical issues. We’ll go through essential steps to ensure the car remains in top condition while it’s not in use.

Cleaning and Protecting the Exterior

Firstly, it’s critical to wash and wax the car thoroughly. A comprehensive exterior wash will remove any dirt or grime that could cause paint damage or rust over time. Afterward, a layer of wax adds an extra protective barrier.

Action Purpose
Wash thoroughly Remove contaminants
Apply wax Provide a protective layer

Selecting a high-quality car cover is essential to shield the vehicle from the elements. The cover should be breathable to prevent moisture accumulation and designed for outdoor use.

Ensuring Interior Preservation

For the interior, a good interior cleaning is vital to removing any food particles or residue that may attract pests. We recommend:

  • Vacuuming the entire cabin.
  • Applying a protectant on surfaces to shield against UV rays.

Ensure that the car is completely dry inside to prevent mold and mildew. Check for any openings where animals might enter and seal them accordingly.

Technical and Mechanical Preparations

Within the engine bay, replace the engine oil and consider changing other fluids like brake fluid and coolant to avoid any corrosion or damage that could occur from sitting fluids. Here’s what else we should take care of:

  • Inflate tires to the correct tire pressure to prevent flat spots.
  • Lubricate moving components to prevent them from seizing up.
  • A full tank with a fuel stabilizer will protect the fuel injection system and prevent moisture.

For the battery, attaching a battery maintainer keeps it charged and ready for use. This device is also crucial for maintaining the health of the car’s electrical system. Ensure proper drainage around the vehicle to avoid water pooling underneath.

Maintaining Your Vehicle While in Storage

Proper maintenance is crucial for keeping your stored vehicle in good condition. We’ll discuss the necessary inspections and tasks to ensure that your car remains healthy during its period of storage.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance Tasks

Regular checking and upkeep are key to preventing issues with your vehicle while it’s stored outside. Below is a systematic approach to maintaining your vehicle:

Fluid Levels:

  • Check engine oil and replace if needed to ensure proper lubrication.
  • Ensure the coolant level is sufficient to avoid engine corrosion.
  • Brake fluid should be at the recommended level to avoid any issues with the brake system.

Tire Care:

  • Keep tires inflated to the recommended pressure to prevent flat spots.
  • Regularly inspect tire condition for any signs of deterioration.

Fuel Tank:

  • Maintain a full tank to minimize moisture buildup and prevent rust inside the tank.

Protective Measures Against Environmental Damage and Pests

We must take proactive steps to safeguard our cars when storing them outside for an extended period. Ensuring protection from harsh weather conditions and persistent pests is critical to maintaining our vehicle’s integrity.

Preventing Damage from Sun and Weather

Excessive exposure to direct sunlight and UV rays can severely damage a car’s paint and interior. Preventing this requires a multifaceted approach:

  • Use of Car Covers: Select a car cover made from high-density polyethylene or poly-cotton blend for UV protection and breathability. Make sure it’s a snug fit to minimize damage from wind-blown debris.
  • Waxing: Apply a high-quality wax to create a protective barrier against sun, rain, and dust.
  • Location: Park in a shaded area or under a structure to minimize exposure to sunlight.
  • Moisture Prevention: Ensure proper drainage around the parking space to avoid standing water that could lead to corrosion and mold.

Deterring Rodents and Other Pests

Rodents and other pests can cause significant damage to wiring and interior components. Here are specific measures we can employ:

  • Pest Control: Use natural repellents or ultrasonic devices to keep pests away from your vehicle’s vicinity.
  • Seal Entry Points: Inspect your car for gaps and cracks, sealing them to prevent pests from making a home in your vehicle.
  • Cleanliness: Avoid leaving food items or trash in or near the vehicle as they attract pests.
  • Chocks: Place chocks around the tires to prevent movement, which can also discourage nesting.

Clean and inspect your car regularly for signs of pests.

Do this especially if it’s parked in a rural area prone to rodent infestation.

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