There’s more to storing a car then just placing it in an empty garage. Car storage is super important especially when you are moving or going through any other dramatic change in life. Here are ten helpful steps to take to make sure your car stays in top condition while in a storage unit:
10 Steps to Protect your Car in Storage:
1. Change the oil and filter.
If you plan to keep a car in storage for a certain amount of time (years) then change the oil and filters. The best advice is to use premium fuel. Regular oil carries ethanol, which can release water into the tank of the car, making things rust and corrode away over a long period of time due to condensation. Premium oil does not contain ethanol, making it safe to use for car storage.
2. Check coolant levels, and inflate your tires.
Make sure the fluids in your car are properly filled to the levels they should be at, and don’t leave any tires low on air pressure. When storing a car, cold air can bring tire pressure down so it’s best to over inflate your tires a bit so there won’t be any flat spots.
3. Clean it.
Take it through a car wash, (or simply wash it yourself) and detail the inside. Don’t leave any kind of food in the car because Sully the squirrel will find it. Remove all carpets because they can become musty inside. Nobody wants to come back to a smelly, infested vehicle.
4. Roll down windows slightly.
This is only recommended if the car is being stored inside a garage. Don’t roll them down too much, but leaving them slightly open will allow air flow inside the vehicle so bad smells don’t accumulate. It’s also recommended to stuff a rag inside the exhaust pipe so little critters don’t nest inside it (Sully’s babies, for example). Again, NOBODY wants to come back to a nasty, verminous automobile.
5. Use a battery maintainer.
A battery maintainer is just a battery charger that will turn itself on periodically throughout the time you plan to store your car. This way the battery doesn’t die while it’s in storage.
6. Remove the wiper blades.
Doing this prevents the blades from sticking to the windshield. Another option is to place some plastic wrap between the wipers and windshield, and wrap some around the blades. Or better yet, if you have wiper blades that can be moved forward and away from the windshield, then do that.
7. Release the handbrake.
This is a good thing to do just to make sure the car doesn’t roll away. You can even use chocks to put underneath the tires, or blocks behind the tires to prevent rolling. (This option is actually preferable to using the handbrake.)
8. Leave a note for yourself.
Always place some kind of note in your car to outline the steps you have taken when storing the car. This will help when retrieving the car from storage, so you don’t forget anything important, such as removing the rag from the exhaust pipe, or putting the wipers back on, etc.
9. Lock your doors!
You don’t want anyone stealing your car while in storage.
10. Put a cover on it.
You only need to do this if you plan to store the car outside. That way dust, animals, moisture, and smells don’t get stuck in there. (You may have noticed how animals and smells have been a recurring motif in these steps.)
What Size of Storage Unit is Best?
When it comes to car storage, what size of storage unit fits a car best? For one thing, know the size of your car, and make sure you don’t place it in a storage unit too big for it, otherwise you’re paying for more than what you need. Brian Shreckengast, from SpareFoot Blog: a blog about car storage size, has come up with the best method of finding the perfect unit size for your car. By taking the model with its year, length, width, and height, he shows a recommended unit size to store your automobile. This way you can pay the right amount of storage without breaking the bank, or having to squeeze your vehicle into a space that’s not made for it. Down below are a few examples based off one type of model.
Visit Neighbor to find an indoor vehicle storage unit near you!
Now let’s say you’ve found the perfect storage unit size for your vehicle; don’t dive in and agree to anything just yet. When it comes to car storage you need to be aware of the fine print of storing your car in a storage unit. Here are some details you need to think about:
Are there deposits and fees?
Don’t get scammed into anything that makes you pay extra without your knowledge. Make sure you know what you are getting into, and if the deposit and fees are worth the storage cost.
Is there a manager on site?
Having a manager always there at the site is a great thing to consider because it usually translates into fast and personal customer service.
Is there a month-to-month rental?
Find a storage unit that has you pay monthly instead of signing a contract that makes you lease a unit for a year or more. It might be a better deal to do a longer contract if you plan to store your car for that long, but if you only plan to store it for a few months, then go with the monthly payment plan.
Does the unit provide 24/7 access?
This is something to consider because this feature allows you to get to your car whenever you think you need it even if it’s 2 AM and you randomly need your car for a Taco Bell run.
Is it gated?
Like a gated community, a gated storage facility provides a sense of security. Security is a major thing to think about when finding the right storage unit. With a gated facility you can be sure that your car will be secured.
Are there alarms?
Alarms are another way to prevent theft (obviously).
Is the facility illuminated at night?
Would you want to walk alone in the dark in a large facility to grab your car at 2 AM?
Is there a 24-hour hotline?
This is always a good thing because if you need the car for any kind of emergency then you know you can call at any time for customer service.
How much will an indoor vehicle storage unit cost?
With so much to consider in finding car storage, one last thing to figure out is the cost of the storage unit. The website HomeAdvisor mentions that car storage on average can cost between $45-$450 per month, but the cost varies due to many factors such as the ones mentioned above, as well as the location of the facility, the size of the unit, and the availability of climate control. The question is what are you willing to pay? There are generally two different types of storage units you can choose from: self-storage or portable storage. With self-storage you are renting a unit that you can access at any time on a storage facility. Portable storage is where you store your belonging in something like a pod that’s placed on your property. Self-storage can cost between $20-$450 a month, whereas portable can range between $90-$250 a month.
If you’re thinking of doing a climate controlled unit, be aware that you’re adding $25 to $30 to your monthly price. It’s also important to note that the size of the unit will also add costs to the monthly price, like we mentioned before. So, for example, a climate-controlled 10 x 20 unit can cost up to $50 more per month compared to a standard unit. Despite the extra costs, doing climate control can be really beneficial. As HomeAdvisor puts it, “A climate-controlled storage unit controls the inside temperature to stay below 90 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, and above 40 degrees in winter. In addition, it controls the humidity to stay below 65 percent.” With this kind of control you’re able to safely keep your car in storage without having to worry about possible rust, or any kind of damage due to extreme temperatures or environmental conditions.
What about vehicle storage insurance?
Also, let’s talk about getting car insurance when placing your vehicle in storage. Some storage facilities do provide insurance on the vehicle, but it’s vital to talk to your insurance agency and let them know what you plan to do because putting insurance on your stored car can actually save you money. When getting insurance for the stored vehicle, you’re getting what is called comprehensive coverage. This kind of insurance protects your car from fire, theft, vandalism, building collapse, and any other kind of harm that could befall your car while in storage. Here’s the thing though, the basic rule about comprehensive coverage is that most insurance agencies won’t place it on your car if you only own one car. It can only be used if the owner owns more than one automobile. Slightly inconvenient, but that’s the rule. This means, however, that comprehensive coverage is great to use for your classic car, or sports car, that you know you don’t drive during specific seasons, or that you inherited from your great uncle and want to keep protected.
One last detail to mention: if for any reason you decide to take the car out of storage and drive it for the day, you must call your insurance provider and let them know so they can place normal coverage back onto the vehicle. This way if for any reason you get into an accident, your beautiful, coveted 1969 Boss 429 Mustang is saved (Look it up. It’s a pretty sweet ride.)
Car storage doesn’t have to be stressful as long as you know the important facts, the size of your car, and what unit you can afford. The rest is simple once you’ve made your decision and are ready to take the steps to place your car in storage. Just don’t forget to get that insurance to keep your baby safe!