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Vehicle Storage Tips

Storing a car is not just a matter of park, lock and leave. Nasty problems can develop deep in the innards of a beloved vehicle if you ignore preventive measures. Careful prestorage preparation will keep any car happy during its hiatus.

1.    Change the oil and filter. If the car is being stored for an extended period of time, measured in years, talk to a mechanic about using oils without additives, which may include slightly caustic detergents.

2.    Fill the fuel tank with fresh, premium fuel. Condensation in the tank is a problem in stored vehicles, and it is widely suggested that you fill the tank completely with Premium non-alcohol fuel in order to avoid any empty space where water can accumulate. However, the gasoline can become "gummy" over time, so it is useful to add a gasoline stabilizer, which is available for lawn mowers and other seasonal yard equipment. In some areas, premium gas does not contain ethanol which is corrosive and can release water when stored for long periods. Check with gasoline company distributor.

3.    Make sure coolant levels are proper.

4.    Inflate the tires to proper pressure. If you are storing for the winter in a cold climate, check the manual for proper pressures.Over inflation while in storage may help to prevent flat spots. After storeage expect some thumping tires until they are driven 10 miles or so.

5.    Clean and wax the car. Be sure to wash under the car to remove any dirt, especially from the the wheel wells. Clean the interior extensively, being especially vigilant about all food scraps and particles; these can attract small animals. Removing the carpets for heated indoor storage will prevent them from becoming musty. Do not use Armor All® or similar products; these contain water, which may become trapped inside the car.fact

6.    Consider placing a sheet of vapor barrier plastic under the car on the floor if being stored indoors. This will prevent water vapor buildup in an unheated garage, and also makes it very easy to spot fluid leaks when the car is removed from storage.

7.    Open a window slightly if stored indoors, but not enough to allow small animals inside. Put the top up if it's a convertible. Stuff a rag into the air intake and exhaust to prevent animals from nesting, covering this with a metal screen (1/4 inch square screen is useful here). Some suggest using strong-smelling chemicals like soap or mothballs to keep animals away, but these can leave a smell in the car.

8.    Use a battery maintainer if the car will be stored for more than a month. These are basically "smart" battery chargers that only turn on periodically. For short times, a few months, the maintainer can be attached to the battery while still in the car. For extended periods, if you are comfortable with basic mechanics, removing the battery and attaching the maintainer to it outside the car is a advisable. If you choose to do this, be sure to contact the car's manufacturer to ensure that this will not confuse the on-board computers, and that you have written down any needed access codes for devices such as the stereo or alarm.

9.    Place a piece of plastic wrap on the windshield under the wiper blades, to prevent the rubber from sticking to the glass. Better yet, remove the blades completely and store them in a warm place (perhaps beside the battery and carpets). If you remove the blades, be sure to pad the ends of the wiper arms, which can scratch the glass if inadvertently turned on. You can also leave the wipers in place and just wrap them with plain plastic wrap. This can be gently scrubbed from the window if it sticks. Alternatively, if your car has the windshield wiper arms that pop out and away from the windshield, you can store them in the "out" position

10.    If you are comfortable with basic mechanics, remove the spark plugs and spray a small amount of oil into the cylinders to prevent rusting, then insert the plugs again. Special "fogging oil" is available for storing boats, and will work well here. Use of a spark plug anti-seize lubricant on the threads is always advisable, as to prevent the threads from sticking. It will make disassembly easier, when it's time to change the spark plugs. If you wish to pass on this proceedure, there are fuel additives (non alcoholic) that can be added and then driven to coat upper engine parts.

11.    If the car will be stored for extended periods of time, it is advisable to jack it up on axle stands to avoid flat spots in the tires. "Extended" in this case depends on the type of tires; bias-ply tires need to be jacked up sooner than radials, and high-profile sooner than low-profile. A "classic" car with fat bias-ply tires should be jacked up if stored for more than a month, a modern sports car with low-profile radials should be fine for a winter.

12.    Release the parking brake. If the brake is left on, the brake pads can stick to the rotors. Place chocks under the tires to prevent movement, which is even more effective than the brake, anyway.

13.    Place a note to yourself on the steering wheel outlining which optional steps above you carried out (rag in exhaust, rag in intake, carpets removed, battery removed, etc). When returning to the car in the spring, ensure all of these steps are reversed, checking them off as you go down the list. The list should contain every item separately; "rags in openings" may lead to one being left behind.

14.    Lock the doors. It will help in case someone tries to steal something from your car.

15.    Use a car cover only for outdoor storage, or in very dusty locations. Leaving the car "open" indoors allows water vapor to leave the car after humid weather.

If you must use a cover, typically only for outdoor storage or very dusty locations, use a cover that is ventilated and allows water vapor to escape. Wicking materials, similar to those used on sporting "technical wear", is widely used in high-end covers.

It is not uncommon for the brake rotors to develop surface rust during storage. This is most often just a cosmetic problem and can be eliminated during a few driving stops. Heavier surface rust can be burnished off the rotors by performing 15 moderate stops from 35-40 MPH with cooling time in between.

If the car has been sitting for more than 3 months, change the oil and filter again before driving. Oil breaks down over time, even when the car is stored.

Before removing the spark plugs, be sure to use compressed air to blow any foreign matter away from the spark plug holes to prevent dirt and other abrasives from entering the combustion chamber.

When applying anti-seize lubricant on the spark plugs, try to get the Lubricant only on the threads, and not anything else. Also, a little dab of anti-seize lubricant goes a long way; be sure not to apply too much.

If you have access to the car during the storage period, exercise the brakes and clutch once a month to help prevent sticking of the seals inside the hydraulic components.

Placing a battery on concrete will not cause it to discharge any faster than any other surface. A battery will self-discharge slowly over time regardless of the surface. An unused battery should never be allowed to sit over 6 months without a recharge.

Lead acid batteries should not be stored inside homes. Under certain conditions they may discharge toxic or explosive gases.

Be sure to add stabilizer to the gas. If you don't, you will be seeing engine problems and possibly car stalls. This can be minimized by leaving only a small amount of gasoline in the tank, adding stabilizer to it, and upon returning to your car — adding fresh gas to mix with the older gas. But this course of action needs to be weighed against the possibility of condensation in the gas tank.

Be aware of rodents and other pests that may choose to make a home in your vehicle. Consider placing baits around the car, and if possible have someone check the vehicle (and the baits) periodically. Rubber belts and hoses are particularly susceptible to chewing damage. Inside seats and within ventilation ducting make great homes for vermin.

Be mindful of leaving wiper arms extended. If they snap back on the glass, the arms can break the windshield, especially in colder conditions. Instead, Wrap the arms in a washcloth and bind with a piece of duct tape, then lay the arm back on the windshield. This will protect the arm from rusting to the windshield.

Oil and Filter
Gas Stabilizer
Battery Maintainer
Battery Knife Switch
Air freshener
Car Cover

There are numerous methods of storing a boat for the winter, all of them involving some amount of work and misery. A proper storage plan will result in a small amount of misery now rather than a huge amount next spring when you find the boat in ruins. If you don't have basic engine and maintenance skills, you should probably pay a boatyard to winterize the craft for you.
1.  Begin with the engine, since this is the messiest and potentially most expensive item. Change the oil and filter. You don't want old, dirty oil sitting in the engine all winter.
2.  Drain the engine's cooling system. If it's a closed system (like a car's), refill it with the manufacturer's recommended antifreeze and water solution. If it's an open system (one that draws water from outside the boat), flush it with clean water by inserting a garden hose into the intake opening. Drain the system completely by opening the coolant drain(s), located at the lowest point(s) of the system, usually near where a hose attaches to the engine block.
3.  Drain the gas out of the tank (if your boat has a carburetor), using the drain screw at the bottom of the bowl. Replace the screw and fill the tank with a fuel stabilizer as directed.
4.  Pump the holding tank for bathroom waste as dry as possible. Unless you can easily remove the tank from the boat, you should have a boatyard do this. Treat the tank with a deodorizing solution, available from a boatyard or from marine supply stores such as WestMarine.com. If it's permitted, you may empty the tank in open water if you are far enough out to sea.
5.  Remove as much gear as possible from the boat. You don't want life jackets, sails, cushions or anything else left in areas that might collect moisture.
6.  Open all hatches and storage lockers if you'll be keeping the boat in a garage. Close all hatches and lockers if you'll be storing the boat outdoors. It's a good idea to spray the bilge, head and lockers lightly with an antimildew product. Put in a dehumidifier if you're storing your boat outdoors.
7.  If you are opting for outdoor storage, construct a tarp support system for outside storage. Don't expect your canvas boat cover to keep out heavy rain or snow. An inexpensive tarp, supported above the boat in a steep A-frame to shed snow and rain, works great. A long two-by-four running along the centerline of the boat and supported at each end makes a perfect tarp support.

1.  Drain the water system of your RV and sanitize it. Fill the water system with RV antifreeze if you are storing the RV in a cold climate. Leave the water system fully drained if storing the RV in a warmer climate.
2.  Purchase tire covers. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause tires to crack and deteriorate if they are not covered. Install tire covers on your RV tires any time you are not using the RV.
3.  Close the propane valve or remove the propane tank from your RV. Light a stovetop burner inside the RV and allow it to burn until all of the propane has been removed from the gas system.
4.  Disconnect the battery. Remove it from the RV and store it in a cool, dry area. If storing the RV in a warm climate, don't leave the battery anywhere in the RV.
5.  Defrost the refrigerator and remove all perishable items from the fridge and pantry. Leave the refrigerator door and all other interior doors open for ventilation purposes.
6.  Purchase an RV cover. Keep the RV covered any time you are not using it.