5 Tips for Storing Your Car for Winter
Becoming a snowbird is increasingly popular these days. People often leave their northern, cold, wintery dwellings for the warmth of the south. Instead of enduring cold and wet stormy weather that traps people in their homes, people head to the warmth, sun and fun of Florida, Arizona and other sunny destinations, until old man winter relents and spring returns the color and vibrancy of home. The seduction of a sunny destination can cause us to forget to take care of important details before we go.
Before you head off to sunny beaches and poolside lounge chairs, there are some things you want to button up. Some things seem more obvious, like forwarding your mail, shutting off your utilities, and suspending your newspaper delivery.
Something you might not think of is your car: you should store your car in a manner that will allow you to return to a car that’s ready to drive. Sitting in extreme weather is harder on a car than most people would think. The liquids settle and congeal and corrode. Tires deflate. Batteries die. Smells linger. Here are five tips for storing your car for the winter.
Clean Your Car
This might seem silly and superfluous, but it can be important. Why? When dirt and grime are caked to your car and it sits for an extended time, it can cause corrosion. Simply cleaning your car avoids this damage. Not only that, but it’s emotionally uplifting when you return to a clean car!
Cleaning your car includes the interior. If you leave food and other items that can generate smells, you might return to a stink bomb. Also, roll the windows down. This keeps moisture from accumulating as well as ventilating the car. This can also prevent mildew from forming in your absence. Some people like to put baking soda in the trunk and various areas to absorb moisture and prevent smells from permeating the interior.
Air Up Tires
Your car will be sitting. This is pressure on your tires. Your tires will normally leak a little due to the simple fact that pressure will force some air out. If your tires are low when you store your car, you might return to a flat.
Even if the tires aren’t flat, this neglect can create flat spots which will require tire replacement. Also, don’t engage your parking brake. This can cause your brake to seize.
Remove The Battery
Not everyone agrees on this, but when you remove your battery you increase the probability that your battery will start your car when you return. Leaving your battery connected can drain the battery and you could return to a car that won’t start.
When you do this, hook it up to a trickle charger, so your battery stays charged and ready for you. Put the battery on a piece of wood. This protects the battery and the floor.
Returning from vacation with oil that needed to be changed before you left is not usually a disaster, but topping up your fluids and changing your oil will ensure you return to a car that is ready to drive and that will better withstand the potential extreme changes in the weather. Low fluids are more vulnerable to damage, just like it’s easier to freeze a small amount of water than it is to freeze the ocean.
It is particularly important that your antifreeze is full, especially if you are leaving in cold weather. Also, add a fuel stabilizer. The shelf-life of your fluids is usually three months before they begin to break down. Stabilizer doubles that. Fluids include gas: having a full tank of gas prevents moisture from accumulating. Also, it’s nice to return to a car with a full tank.
Use a quality storage facility. This doesn’t need to be a luxury suite, but it should have a concrete floor and protection from the elements. A garage can be fine as long as it doesn’t allow excessive exposure to elements and moisture. Dirt floors and open windows should be avoided. Putting a cover on your car is an added precaution, but not a necessity. If you baby your car while you’re home, baby it while you’re gone as well.
When you head south for the winter, the last thing you want on your mind is the car you left behind. If you do these five things, when you return north, your car will be waiting to drive you around as you reacquaint yourself with your home. Take the time to make sure you store your car well for the winter, then enjoy the sun while your neighbors freeze.