Car Care: Preparing you car for long-term storage
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There are times when people need to store a vehicle for an extended period of time. Perhaps it's a summer cruiser, or maybe you're leaving the country for work or that much-needed holiday. Here are some important tips you should consider to ensure your vehicle remains in tip-top condition to save money and prevent hassles later on.
Storing cars long term is best undercover and out of sight.
This protects it from less scrupulous folk, and the paintwork will be sheltered from the elements, leaves, dust and corrosive droppings. A garage is best but other options include a storage facility, car port or cover.
A vehicle battery in good condition should be able to sit for a few months without going flat.
This means you can keep the terminals connected, and if the vehicle won't start upon arrival, just call road service for a jumpstart. This way there is a good chance all the vehicle system memories are retained.
There are also maintenance chargers available that are designed to be plugged in and left. They switch on and off as required to keep the battery topped up.
For longer periods, it is best to disconnect the battery to reduce the current drain and increase the chance of the vehicle starting later.
Giving your vehicle a wash and wax will do wonders for the paint surface and keep the dust off.
Remember to leave a window down just enough to keep the air inside fresh but stop any unwanted pests climbing in. Maybe spread a few mothballs or cotton wool soaked in peppermint oil around the vehicle to help ward them off.
This is more important for long-term storage, but new oil and good coolant will ensure vital components remain lubricated and reduce the likelihood of corrosion and leaks.
Now for the matter of fuel. In the past it was recommended tanks were kept full to minimise condensation. This is still possible if the vehicle is being stored outside, as it is the temperature difference between liquid and steel that can cause condensation.
We recommend keeping the fuel amount fairly low so you can top-up with fresh fuel, or easily drain, when the time comes to get it back on the road. A small trick to keep the wiper blades usable, is to lift them off the screen or wrap them in cling film to stop them deforming or sticking to the glass.
Correct pressure is important in order for tyres to maintain their shape and prevent flat spots. If the vehicle is being stored long term, it is best to inflate them a bit more than usual. This will ensure adequate pressure remains, even if a small amount leaks out over time.
Back in the day, car tyres were particularly prone to flat spots and vehicles were raised on blocks to prevent this from happening.
If possible, leave the handbrake off to stop the brake material sticking to the steel drums and causing binding or noises later on. The transmission can be kept in park or wheels chocked to stop the car rolling away.
Another handy tip is to leave a reminder note in the car to jog your memory about any changes you made before laying the car up.
Check the tyre pressure, fluids, wipers, brakes, and of course make sure you disconnect that battery.
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