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22/04/2020 News

How to store a car for 1-3 months

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If you don’t plan on driving your car in the near future, it’s always a good idea to make sure it’s stored correctly. Doing so will ensure the components, oils and other fluids don’t degrade unnecessarily, either due to exposure to the elements or being held in situ for a long period of time. In this DIY car service guide, learn how to store your car – for one month or three months – how to store classic cars, and how to safely and correctly store car batteries for extended periods of time. 

Make sure to note down all the steps you take when storing your car. That way, you will know what you need to reverse when you take your car out of storage. 

How to store a car for one month

 

Use the following checklist if you are going to store your car for one month or more: 

  • Location – If you can store your car within a garage, do so if the garage is well-ventilated – brick and wooden garages are better choices than concrete. If not, invest in a waterproof, breathable car sheet, or run a fan or dehumidifier in the garage for a few hours every week. 

  • Fuel – Top up the car with fuel to reduce the risk of it being affected by water build-up caused by condensation.  

  • Brakes – To reduce the risk of your car’s brakes seizing up while it’s stored, every week, start the car and release the parking brake, rolling the car back and forth several times.  

  • Battery – Every two weeks, roll the car out onto your driveway (if it’s stored in a garage) and run the engine for five minutes to allow the battery to charge. Do not do this inside a garage due to the risk of toxic fume build-up. 

  • Tyres – Check the pressure of every tyre and inflate if required. The correct tyre pressures should be noted in your owner’s manual. 

How to store a car for three months 

 

If you plan on storing your car for three months or more, follow the steps below in addition to the one-month storage instructions above. 

  • Add fuel stabiliser – To prevent ethanol build-up in your fuel system and the subsequent accumulation of varnish, gum and rust, add a fuel stabiliser to your fuel tank. This should keep the fuel safe for up to 12 months. 

  • Change the oil, filter and coolant – By changing your oil and coolant you can ensure there are no water or contaminants within either system that might cause corrosion or deposit formation. Learn how to change your motor oil and how to top up your coolant

  • Clean, polish and dry the car – This will make sure your vehicle looks its best once you resume driving and will be protected from corrosion. Cleaning your car’s interior will also stop mould or pests from ruining your seats and trim. Learn how to clean your car, inside and out. 

  • Statutory Off Road Notification – By notifying the DVLA that your car is not being driven, you can save money on car tax.  

  • Contact your insurer – Given your car won’t be on the road, you can save money by reducing your car insurance plan to cover only fire and theft.  

  • Jack up the car – If tyres are left stationary for too long under the weight of the car, they can develop flat spots which might not disappear once the car is driven again. To stop this from happening, raise your car off the ground on jack stands. 

  • Disconnect or correctly store the battery – Doing so will ensure the battery doesn’t leak and corrode your engine or run out of power and affect the function of the engine control unit. Scroll down to find out how to store your car battery safely. 

  • Lift the windscreen wipers – This will make sure the wipers are kept dry; extended exposure to moisture can damage wiper blades. 

  • Use wheel chocks instead of the handbrake – Handbrakes can seize up if left activated for a long period of time. Instead, use wheel chocks to keep your vehicle stationary. 

How to store a classic car 

 

When storing (laying up) a classic car at home, follow the above steps, plus the following: 

  • Spray exposed components with moisture inhibiting oil – This will prevent rust. Pay attention to beneath the bonnet, the battery box, boot, suspension and beneath the wings. 

  • Clean, dry and polish the bodywork – By doing this, you can be extra sure the vehicle is be protected from rust. 

  • Get a professional service – Classic cars require more upkeep than newer vehicles, so it’s a good idea to have it serviced by an expert before you store it. 

  • Open the windows an inch – This will improve ventilation within your vehicle. 

  • Use artificial ventilation – If the space you are storing your classic car is poorly ventilated, run a fan or dehumidifier within the space for a few hours each week. 

  • Drive your classic car – The best way to keep your classic car from suffering from deposit formation, standing wear and poor ventilation is to drive it for a few hours in dry weather, once a month. Just remember to clean it before you put it back into storage. 

How to store a car battery long term or for winter 

 

If you’re storing your car for longer than a month or over winter, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to how you store your battery. 

  1. Clean the battery terminals and coat them with petroleum jelly. Learn how to clean a car battery in our car servicing guide. 
  2. Connect the battery to a maintenance trickle charger or smart charger. 
  3. Store the battery in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space. 
  • If you can’t disconnect the battery from a petrol or diesel car, run the engine once a week for 15 minutes to allow the battery to recharge 

  • If you own an electric or hybrid car, press the Start button to show the ‘ready’ notification for ten minutes every week. This will allow the battery to charge itself. Alternatively, your vehicle may stay charged if connected to mains power. 

Learn more about DIY car servicing by visiting our advice hub, check out Total Lub Advisor for the right oils, lubricants and fluids, or get in touch with our team for more information.