How to Store Your Car the Right Way:
Long-term Vehicle Storage Tips and Tricks

If you’re looking to store your car for a while, it’s important that you do so the right way. Doing so in an unsafe location could lead to irreparable damage to your vehicle, and even if you choose the right location, with the wrong storage methods it won’t take long before things start going south.

man driving classic car


In this blog post, we will explore some helpful tips on how best to store your car if you plan on keeping it parked for a while. Car storage can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing, which is why we have put together this helpful guide that will assist you in making sure that your car remains in mint condition throughout its period of storage.


Check the condition of your car before you decide to store it

Before you even think about storing your car, you’ll want to make sure that it is in good condition. While you might not have a major repair bill on your hands if your car is already in good condition, even the slightest bit of neglect on your part could lead to your car developing problems faster while in storage, which will only cost you more money in the long run.

If you’re not mechanically inclined, get your vehicle inspected by an auto repair service. Depending on the mileage of your car, the mechanic will typically inspect the fuel system, HVAC system, brakes, suspension, filters, and fluids. They may lubricate various items as well as replace the power steering fluid and brake fluid flush among other things. Your vehicle may also require a transmission fluid change.


Maintenance prior to long-term storage

Once your car has been serviced, it’s time to take care of some things yourself prior to putting the car into long-term storage. Here are the main things to take care of.

Gas Tank – It’s a good idea to fill up your gas tank before long-term storage. The reason for this is to protect against rust that can form on the walls of the tank if there is any space left where water can condensate and corrode the tank wall. You should consider adding a fuel stabilizer to further prevent corrosion.

Tires – Make sure the pressure in your tires is at the recommended PSI. If you are going to be leaving your car in storage for over a month, you may want to consider putting the car on jack stands and removing the tires. This will prevent flat spots from developing due to prolonged storage in one position. You could also consider asking a friend to drive your car periodically while you’re away to prevent these flat spots.

Battery – Make sure that you keep your battery charged while in storage. You can use a trickle charger to do so, but be careful not to overcharge it as this could cause damage to your battery. You might consider using a battery maintainer instead, which automatically shuts off after the battery is fully charged. You don’t need to disconnect your battery to do this. If you need to top up the water level in your battery, it is best to wait for the charging process to end before adding water.

OilChange your oil before putting your car in storage. Doing so will help reduce the risk of your car developing an oil-related problem while in storage, which would cost you even more money to fix if you don’t know how to repair the problem yourself. It’s also a good idea to change the oil again after you’ve taken your car out of storage.

Engine – If your mechanic hasn’t done this already, you should take the spark plugs out and spray oil into the cylinders. This will help prevent the engine block from rusting. After you’ve done this, replace the spark plugs. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable doing, you should ask your mechanic to do this.


Protect your paint job

Your paint job is important, and it is something that you’ll want to protect while in storage. Be sure to thoroughly wash and wax the car prior to storage. This will prevent things like bird stains or tree sap from lingering and causing damage. Don’t forget to wash the wheels and fenders to remove tar, grease, or mud.


Cover your Car

Consider putting a tarp over the car. This will protect the vehicle from dust. You may want to go a step further and purchase a custom car cover. The best car covers have a fleece lining that protects the car surface while still allowing moisture to escape so that it doesn’t ruin the finish.


Finding the right location for long-term vehicle storage

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make is where to keep your car. Factors such as ease of access, security, storage conditions, and cost all come into play when determining where to keep the vehicle.

Driveway – As you can imagine, this is the least protective choice you can make. Your car will be exposed to the elements, as well as would-be vandals or thieves.

Carport – This provides slightly more protection from the weather, but the vehicle will still be vulnerable.

Garage – If you have a garage space, this may work well. But many garages are uninsulated, which means the car could be damaged by temperature and humidity swings. Also, if this is a classic car you’re storing, you most likely have a day-to-day car that you may want to use your garage for.

Storage Facility – A storage unit can be a great solution for car storage. Typically, these units are well-insulated, which helps to protect the vehicle from heat, cold, and moisture. You can also find units that are climate-controlled for further protection. Storage facilities often have long access hours so that you can get your vehicle out from very early in the morning to late at night. They also offer month-to-month terms so you can rent the unit for only as long as you need it. If you’re interested in running a battery maintainer or trickle charger, you’ll want to look for facilities that offer electrical hookups.



Storing your car for an extended period of time is not only doable, but, when done the right way, can protect the car exceedingly well. By performing the preventative maintenance tips above and choosing the appropriate storage option, you’ll be happy to see that your cherished vehicle will stay in great shape for as long as you own it.

About the Author: Derek Hines

About the Author: Derek Hines

Digital Marketing Specialist

Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Digital Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.