Can You Park a Car in a Storage Unit?: How to Store a Car in Self Storage

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As a storage unit renter, you’ve stored holiday decorations, pictures from the glory days, and grandma’s old loveseat—but did you know there are indoor storage units big enough to store your car?

Whether you’re booking a long-term vacation, preparing for a short-term job relocation, or shopping for classic cars to add to your collection (that can’t fit on or in your existing driveway or garage), finding a place to store your car is likely a “to-do” on your list.

Sure, you could leave your car unattended in your driveway for weeks (even months), but with carjackings surging in major U.S cities across the nation, you may not want to run that risk. Imagine deplaning post-vacation and arriving back home, only to find that your car was broken into or worse: stolen.

Even if you don’t have any vacations or moving dates penned into your agenda, concerns of car theft may still drive you to check out your self-storage options. If you’re sporting a new-to-you 1966 Ford Mustang, nothing screams “worst-case scenario” like vandalized original paint—a risk you run when parking your class car in your driveway full-time.

No matter the need, be it a decluttered driveway or a place for safekeeping, a storage unit in a car-friendly size could be the solution.

Objectives

  • Understand your car storage options: indoor vs. outdoor vs. climate-controlled
  • Measure vehicle dimensions for the right fit in a unit, factor in additional storage space, and check facility permissions prior to booking.
  • Prepare your car for long-term storage by cleaning + covering it.
  • Always evaluate storage facilities by their prices and amenities offered

Understanding Car Storage Options

There’s more to car storage than meets the eye. Not all car-friendly storage units are created alike. From standard drive-up units to climate-controlled units, renters have the pick of the lot when it comes to indoor storage options.

While most vehicles are designed to withstand temperature fluctuations, there are climate-controlled storage units available for car owners who want to safeguard their vehicles against storage-related hazards (deflated tires, battery complications, etc.)

For those car owners who aren’t able to splurge on indoor storage (climatized or not), there are also outdoor storage options available, including covered storage and uncovered storage.

Ready to step behind the wheel of your storage decisions? Weigh the pros and cons of indoor vs. outdoor storage spaces and the options nestled under each category. After all, your car deserves the best care possible, whether it’s a daily driver or a prized luxury vehicle.

Indoor Storage Units

If keeping your car safe from harsh weather conditions is a priority, indoor storage is worth the investment. From added security to insulation from the elements, indoor vehicle storage is recommended for those risk-averse vehicle owners. But what size storage unit do you need for a car?

The Right Size Storage Unit for Your Car

When you store a car, you’ll need to rent a unit in one of the following sizes:

  • 10’ x 15’ : This size storage unit is suitable for subcompact and compact cars
  • 10’ x 20’ : This size storage unit is most similar to the size of a one-car garage
  • 10’x30′: This size storage unit can comfortably fit compact cars, large cargo vans, and even trucks

***Do note that indoor storage units may be more expensive than other options due to the added protection they provide.

Climate-Controlled Units

For those perusing indoor storage options, you may be asking yourself, “Do I need climate-controlled storage for my vehicle?”

If you aren’t willing to skimp on protection when storing luxury vehicles (or storing daily drivers for long periods of time), climate-controlled units are the way to go. These units maintain a consistent temperature and humidity level, providing the highest degree of protection for your car.

Which begs the question, What exactly do you risk when you opt for a traditional storage unit over a climatized unit?Should you choose to store your car in an outdoor space, expect to be at-risk for the following:

  • Battery issues (Common during summer and winter storage)
  • Oil thickening (Common during winter storage)
  • Deteriorated wiper blades (Common during winter storage)
  • Peeling paint (Common during summer storage)

Climate-controlled storage may prevent external and internal damage—but at a price. Because this level of protection comes at a higher cost, you’ll want to carefully weigh the benefits against the expense to determine if climate-controlled storage is the right choice for your vehicle.

Outdoor Vehicle Storage Spaces

If you go the outdoor storage route, you can either rent a covered or uncovered storage space for your car. Generally speaking, outdoor car storage spaces (in “covered” and “uncovered” varieties) are a more affordable option for outdoor car storage—but they aren’t without their drawbacks.

While suitable for short-term storage, outdoor storage spaces (even if they’re covered spaces) expose your car to the elements, which can lead to wear and tear.

If you’re set on outdoor storage, set your car up for success by working your way through this long-term car storage checklist (which includes to-dos like waxing the exterior and checking the tire pressure, etc). That way, you can jet off to your long-term vacation destination, confident that your car is equipped to withstand the conditions it will face.

First, Determine the Right Size Storage Unit for Your Car

Selecting the right size storage unit for your car is essential, as an ill-fitting unit can lead to difficulties accessing your vehicle or even exterior damage.

To determine whether a 10’x15′, 10’x20′, or 10’x30′ unit is the right fit for you, follow the steps below:

Measure Your Car

Start by accurately measuring your car’s length, width, and height to ensure it will fit comfortably in the space. Pro tip: When measuring your vehicle’s width, be sure to include the mirrors.

Knowing your vehicle’s dimensions will help you choose a storage unit that meets your needs. That way, you don’t corner yourself into a year-long contract on a storage unit that doesn’t fit your car.

Factor in Additional Storage Space

If you plan to store other items alongside your vehicle, account for the space needed to store said items comfortably. While it may be tempting to jam boxes in the trunk or the back seat of the stored vehicle or even wedge furniture in the nooks and crannies between the storage unit wall and your car’s doors, resist the urge.

When selecting a self storage unit, consider adding 20% more space than your car’s dimensions for easy access and additional storage. This extra room allows you to move around your vehicle easily, making maintenance and retrieval a breeze.

Next, Find a Self Storage Company That Permits Vehicles

Once you’ve landed on the right storage unit size, it’s time to choose a car storage company.

Unfortunately, not all storage facilities allow parked cars in their units—even if the storage space is, technically, large enough to accommodate a standard-sized vehicle. Typically, these zero-tolerance, no-car policies are enforced for safety reasons.

Before committing to a self storage facility, always review the company’s policies regarding car storage and confirm that your storage facility of choice permits car storage in indoor units. (Note: Even if a storage facility permits indoor vehicle storage, they may have specific rules in place regarding the types of vehicles you can park in an indoor unit and/or the time of day drive-up access is allowed). These restrictions should, ultimately, inform your final decision.

If your facility of choice doesn’t allow indoor vehicle storage, ask if they have uncovered or covered parking spaces available for rent.

Look for Units with Drive-Up Accessibility

When shopping for vehicle storage, drive-up access should be a non-negotiable.

With drive-up accessibility, you can easily park and retrieve your vehicle, as well as load and unload items from the unit. Drive-up accessibility eliminates the need to carry heavy items across a parking lot, making the storage experience more convenient and hassle-free.

Preparing Your Car for Self Storage

Properly preparing your car for storage is crucial to maintaining its condition and preventing any damage during the storage period, whether you plan to store for the short or long term.

Taking the proper precautions (as seen below) is a small sacrifice that can have a large payout. By dedicating an hour to pre-storage preparations, you can sidestep a several-hour wait at the repair shop when your oil curdles or your battery dies.

First, Complete Any Routine Maintenance Tasks

Always, change your oil, top off the tank, and check all fluid levels before storing your vehicle.

When storing your vehicle for the long term, pay your battery special attention. If you’re able to, start and drive your car every couple of months to avoid battery failure and other issues. If you consider disconnecting the battery and storing it in a cool, dry environment to prevent draining.

These steps will help prevent any potential issues when it’s time to retrieve your vehicle.

Next, Work on Pest Prevention

Pests can wreak havoc on your car if they finagle their way inside. To prevent pests from nesting in your vehicle, use pest deterrents and keep your car clean. Sealing any cracks or openings in the car can also help deter pests from making your car their home.

Regularly inspecting your car for signs of pests and taking preventive measures can help you avoid costly repairs.

Finally, Clean and Cover Your Car

Before storing your car, give it a thorough cleaning, both inside and out. Removing dirt and debris will help prevent scratches and damage to the paint.

Once dry, use a breathable cover designed for car storage to protect your vehicle from dust and debris that can tarnish the exterior.

Before You Go

If finding self storage spaces in the following sizes 10’x15′, 10’x20′, or 10’x30′ proves difficult, consider Neighbor, a leading storage marketplace chalked with private garages for rent. Compared to a traditional storage unit, a private garage yields superior convenience, better accessibility, and more space to work with.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I put my car on blocks for storage?

Cars with radial tires don’t require blocks, even when stored for 1-3 years. However, blocking may still be necessary depending on the specific circumstances.

Should you start a car in storage?

Starting your car every 3-4 weeks while in storage is recommended to keep cylinders lubricated.

What does it mean when a car is in storage?

When a car is in storage, it means that it is not being used for regular driving purposes.

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