Let’s face it, Canadian winters are tough on vehicles! Harsh weather and road salt are unkind to cars and especially problematic for vintage cars and sports cars. If you do not have a garage, or if your garage is occupied by the next big project, self-storage is a great option.
For most vehicles, unheated storage is adequate. If you prefer to avoid large temperature variations, however, heated storage can be obtained for a very small premium. As with anything being placed into storage, proper preparation is important. This is especially true in the case of storing a car or truck, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for any model-specific information about storing your vehicle.
Here are a few general tips and tricks, however, for safely storing a vehicle in the short or long term, be it at a storage facility or in your own garage:
Before storing a vehicle, wash the exterior to prevent corrosion and allow time to dry.
Either remove the wiper blades entirely or pull them away from the windshield so they do not bond to the glass.
Fill the fuel tank, add a fuel stabilizer, and run your car or truck for 10 - 15 minutes to work the stabilizer through the fuel injection system or carburetor. Filling the fuel tank minimizes the amount of condensation that will develop within the tank while the vehicle is in storage. A full tank also reduces the amount of fumes in the tank, so it's a safer way to store the vehicle.
If the vehicle is only going to be stored for three or four months, it can simply be parked in the storage unit.
To prevent the development of flat spots on the tires, however, the tires should be inflated to their maximum recommended pressure.
If the vehicle is going to be stored for longer than three to four months, the weight of the vehicle should be supported on stands and the tires should be inflated to about 25 psi.
Very Long-Term Storage:
For storage in excess of twelve months, consider removing the spark plugs and spraying a top cylinder lubricant in the cylinders to prevent corrosion and to prevent the rings from seizing against the cylinder walls.
As will all batteries, the battery in a vehicle will discharge slowly over time if it is not recharged. In an unheated storage unit, a fully discharged battery will freeze and become unusable.
If power is available in the storage unit, the battery can be kept charged using a battery maintainer.
If power is not available, it is best to remove the battery and to keep it charged off-premise.
For older model vehicles, disconnecting and/or removing the battery is not a problem.
For newer vehicles, however, this may cause some issues with the engine computer, so check with the manufacturer.
As a precaution, it is advisable to park the vehicle in the unit or stall such that the engine can be easily accessed for boosting purposes if required.
Vehicles with engines in the front should be backed in, whereas vehicles with engines in the back should be pulled straight in, for example.
As a precaution against rodents taking up residence in the exhaust system or the intake tract, the exhaust pipe should be stuffed with steel wool and the air intake plugged.
Ribbons or pieces of surveyors tape should be attached to these plugs as a visual reminder to remove them prior to starting the engine.
The interior of the car or truck should be thoroughly vacuumed to remove any crumbs of food.
If the battery is not being removed from the vehicle, it is advisable to disconnect the battery at a minimum, as the wiring harness can be attractive to rodents.
Disconnecting the battery greatly reduces the risk of fire and/or combustion.
Lastly, despite the best efforts and intentions of your storage facility, incidents and losses can still occur. As such, be sure to maintain comprehensive insurance coverage for your vehicle at all times, as you (and not your storage facility) are responsible for any losses that might occur, however unlikely.
Bluebird Self Storage offers self-storage solutions for individuals and businesses in Edmonton, Red Deer, Cochrane, Sherwood Park, Canmore, and many more locations.