How to Store Your Vehicle Outdoors

Published on 4/26/2021

How to Store Your Vehicle Outdoors

If indoor storage for your vehicle is not an option, there are some steps you can take to make sure your vehicle survives outdoor car storage.

Thoroughly Clean Your Car Before Storing Outside:

Thoroughly wash your vehicle, taking special care to clean the wheel wells and fenders. Waxing after a wash is a great way to add an additional layer of protection to your vehicle’s paint job and will help safeguard against harsh weather.

Pay special attention when cleaning the interior. Any leftover food crumbs or beverage spills that are not properly cleaned will attract all kinds of unwanted guests. Also, make sure to leave some kind of drying agent or dessicant in the vehicle when storing outside. This will help absorb any excess moisture or humidity accumulated in the vehicle during the season.

Fresh Oil:

Make sure to get an oil change as close as possible to when you’re going to store the car away. Contaminants in used oil could potentially cause damage to the engine if sitting for an extended period of time.

Fill Up Your Car’s Gas Tank:

Completely fill up the gas tank. If the tank is low or empty, the air can potentially lead to internal rust forming due to condensation and moisture building up within the tank. Maybe think about a fuel stabilizer and be sure to drive your car around after putting it in so it can evenly distribute to the appropriate engine parts.

Battery Care for Long Term Storage:

An unattended battery will eventually lose its charge. Starting the car every two weeks and driving it for about 15 minutes has several benefits. It will maintain the battery's charge, help the car "stretch its legs," and keep the engine and other components adequately lubricated. It is also a good idea to run the air conditioner to keep the parts in working order and the air quality fresh.

If you can't get to your car every couple of weeks, you can purchase a battery box to protect it from weather damage and prolong the life of the charging system.

Top Off Coolant:

Make sure your coolant levels are filled to the recommended point. Not enough can cause important components to freeze during winter months, causing damage to the engine.

Protect the Wheels:

If a vehicle is left stationary for too long, the tires could develop flat spots as the weight of the vehicle presses down on the tires' footprints. This process occurs at a faster rate in colder temperatures and in vehicles equipped with performance tires or low-profile tires.. If it’s not possible to remove wheels completely, at the very least over inflate the tires and place a chock in front of the wheels to keep the vehicle stationary. Do not engage the parking brake.

If your car will be in storage for more than 30 days, consider taking the wheels off and placing the car on jack stands at all four corners. This step requires more work, but it can save you from needing a new set of tires. Your tires will be in much better shape when you return if they haven't been bearing the weight of the vehicle for a month or more.

Lubricate Flexible and Moving Parts:

Storing your car outside for the long term can cause components designed to flex and move to become brittle. Parts such as steering fittings, suspension fittings and the front and back wheel bearings should receive some fresh grease or lubrication before going into storage.

Protect Your Engine from Animals:

Use steel screen and tape or a clamp to secure the vehicle’s intake and exhaust. These are prime locations for rodents and other small creatures to hide out during the harsh winter weather. In a pinch, you can use tape or aluminum foil to cover them up as well. Just remember to remove them before driving it!

You also may want to consider using mothballs or another type of rodent repellent to keep critters from chewing up your upholstery and engine wires.

A Quality Cover is Important:

Avoid using tarps or other covers that are not specifically shaped for your vehicle. These generic solutions can sometimes do just as much harm as good by damaging the paint, keeping moisture locked in and allowing easy access for unwanted vehicle guests. Sunbrella Outdoor Car Covers are custom sewn and made to order specifically for your vehicle. So you can be sure it will fit perfectly.