There are many reasons for putting a car into long-term storage – usually it is only worthwhile for a vintage or prestige car that will not be used for many months. It may be a vintage car that is only used occasionally in warm weather or one that has been bought as an investment. Maybe you are going to live abroad for a year or so and don’t want to ship the car overseas. Whether you are a car enthusiast because cars are your passion or you run a vintage or classic car business you might need secure storage that will also protect your investment.
One of the problems most likely to damage a car in long-term storage is moisture in the air so the best storage environment is one that has industrial strength dehumidifiers and is well-insulated from the elements. But there are also a number of checks and changes you can make to your vehicle to give it the best possible chance of coming out of storage unscathed.
Typically the battery should be disconnected before putting the car into storage but if the car is a modern car with a computer then you should check the handbook before disconnecting the battery because the computer may be adversely affected if the battery is disconnected for a long time. There are battery chargers available that can be left connected and will only charge up the battery if it actually needs it.
Here’s a general checklist of what else to do when you leave your car in a secure storage unit for any length of time:
· Have the engine oil replaced
· Add anti-freeze to the required concentration
· Take the handbrake off
· Leave windows fractionally open to allow air to circulate
· Use WD40 (or similar) to protect metal parts liable to corrosion
· Lift windscreen wiper blades away from the windows
· Oil the locks with a suitable lubricant
· Jack the car up off all four wheels to reduce the stress to the tyres
When a car has been left in storage for a long time it is important to carry out some safety checks before attempting to start it and certainly before driving it. A car that has been well prepared for storage is far more likely to be in good condition at the end of the storage period and will be easier to start.
Here’s a list of the basic checks you should carry out:
· Reconnect the battery if it was disconnected
· Check the oil level
· Check brake fluid level
· Check other fluid levels such as washer, air conditioning, etc.
· Check tyre pressures
· Remove the spark plugs before attempting to start the engine for the first time to allow the oil to be redistributed without too much stress on the engine
· Test the handbrake
· Check the main brakes work
Once you have performed these checks start the car and drive it gently to check everything is functioning normally. Placing a car in a storage facility requires preparation beforehand and a number of checks and tests when it is being used again, but for prestige cars, classic cars or investment cars storage is often the best and most cost effective way to protect a car for a long period of time when it is not being driven.