How to Store a Car Long-Term

Prepare your car for long-term storage by fueling up, unplugging the battery, changing the fluids, and keeping it clean. Read this article on long-term car storage to learn more.
Written by Rochelle Miller-Hernandez
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
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If you're putting your car in storage, there are a few things you need to do to make sure your car is in good condition and stays safe during storage.
There are many reasons you might need to put your car in storage: you might live in a big city with plenty of public transportation options and only use a car to travel, or maybe you're traveling overseas for a long time and will have no use for it for a while.
Whatever the reason, following these tips by
Jerry
will help you protect and prepare your car for storage.
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How to prepare your car for storage

Fill up your gas tank

If you plan on storing your call longer than a month, you should fill your tank with
gas
. It prevents the tank from rusting by keeping moisture out.
You should also add a fuel stabilizer to protect your engine from harmful elements while extending the life of your fuel. To get it through the entire system, run your car for five to 10 minutes after adding the stabilizer to the tank.

Wash your car, inside and outside

Give your car a good washing, making sure to
clean the interior and exterior
. Vacuum and wipe the inside, making sure all the trash has been removed and stains cleaned up.
Wash the exterior, including the windows, underside and wheels. Bird droppings, water stains, or tree sap can damage and ruin your paint job if left too long.

Unplug your car battery or use trickle charge

Your car is full of electronics that can slowly drain your battery. When you don’t start your car on a regular basis, your battery can become dead pretty quick.
Batteries allowed to die have a significantly reduced working life. To prepare your battery, either disconnect the negative cable only or connect the battery to a trickle charger.
If you are not familiar with a trickle charger, it is a device that plugs into a wall outlet and the car battery, supplying your battery with enough electricity for a small charge to keep it from dying.
MORE: 8 ways to prepare your car for winter driving or storage

Avoid using the parking brake

You might think it is a good idea to use your parking brake when storing your car, but don’t. Your brake pads might fuse to the rotors if left in contact for too long. Instead, use a tire chock, a type of wedge, to keep your car from moving.
Place the chocks next to your tires to keep them from moving. They used to be made of wood, but now more often than not, they are made of sturdy plastic or rubber.

Change your oil and top off fluids

You want fresh oil in your engine to prevent rust. Old oil can break down and allow contaminants to enter and damage the engine.
When you have your oil changed, make sure all your fluids are topped off at the same time. If you are storing your car during the winter, check your anti-freeze levels. You also want to make sure the right type of mix is in your car so that your hoses or radiator don’t crack or freeze and make a mess.

Check your insurance requirements

You usually don't need insurance while your car is in storage, since there's no risk of having an accident. However, you should check with your insurance company and let them know that you want to cancel your policy and why. If you don't, they might assume you have a
lapse in coverage
.
You might need insurance while your car is in storage if you're still making payments on your car. Lenders often require
car insurance
for your vehicle until you fully pay them back, since they have a vested interest in the car and want to make sure it's insured.
Preparing your car for storage is easy if you know what to do. By topping off fluids and your gas tank, changing your oil, preparing your battery, washing your car and using tire chocks to secure your tires, you can go a long way towards getting it ready. You can even purchase a car cover if you want added protection and cannot store your car in a garage.
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