There are times when you need to go somewhere and leave your car behind for months, not just weeks. What should you do to keep your car in good condition while you are away?
The best way to ensure that your car will still run when you return is by keeping it in good storage. By just letting it sit out in the open, or even in the security of your own garage, its battery will run out, or worse, you may have a rat’s nest under the hood, or ruined tires that are very costly to replace.
To avoid these risks, here are some steps you can take that can protect your car, and ensure that its engine will readily start upon your return.
1. Store your car in a garage.
The best place to keep your car for long storage is a garage. If you don’t have one, arrange for a commercial garage space where you can safely lock your car. The elements will not be able to affect your car if it is kept indoors, and the crooks won’t be able to touch it either.
2. Keep it tightly covered.
If you are forced to leave your car outdoors, then cover it with a car cover made of weatherproof materials. And keep the covers tight to prevent moisture or dirt from creeping in. Ask somebody to keep watch on your car while you’re away.
3. Wash it clean.
Even if you’re putting away your car for several months, it will be good to keep it clean before storing it. Don’t leave any dirt or stain on its surface, or in its interiors. If these things are not washed off, they can damage the paint or the car’s upholstery.
Take special attention to the wheels and the under chassis for these are the places where dirt usually lodge in. You can also put a coat of wax to the car’s body for added protection.
4. Give it an oil change.
If you are storing your car for months, you need to change its oil. A major car manufacturer recommends this step to prolong the life of the car’s engine. The old or used oil inside your car’s engine can cause engine damage because of the contaminants that have are already penetrated the engine.
5. Top off the car’s fuel tank.
Filling the tank with fuel will prevent moisture from seeping in. You need to do this if you are storing your car for more than 30 days. This will also keep the protective seals from drying out.
It will also be good for the fuel tank if you will add a fuel stabilizer. This will prevent the deterioration of gas and the build-up of ethanol and also protect the car’s engine from rust, varnish and gum.
6. Have someone charge the battery regularly.
When a car is not used for extended periods of time, its battery will lose its charge. Therefore, you need to ask someone to start the engine once every two weeks, and drive it around the block for about 15 minutes. Perhaps you can ask and pay a mechanic from Express or Pep Boys to do it.
This will not only keep the battery sufficiently charged, but will also allow your car to be “exercised” regularly, and all its electrical components, including its air conditioner to get to work and its moving parts to be lubricated.
If you can’t find anybody to do this, you can disconnect the negative cable from the battery. This option will result in losing your time and other settings, plus your stereo presets.
Another option is to buy a battery tender, otherwise known as a trickle charger. It hooks up your car battery on one end and plugs its other end into a wall socket. In that way, enough electricity will be supplied to the battery and it won’t get discharged.
7. Don’t put the car on park brake.
Since you are leaving your car for more than 30 days, leaving it on park brake will cause the brake pads to be in constant contact with the rotors for a long time. The chances of them fusing together are very great. The better option is to buy a tire stopper. This will prevent your car from moving.
8. Inflate your tires with the right pressure.
A car that is left stationary for extended periods are likely to develop flat spots since its weight is pressing down on the tires’ foot prints. It will be wiser to take all the wheels off, and use four jacks on all four corners of the car. Your tires will still be the same when you return.
9. Keep rats and other pests out.
You need to cover all the openings and gaps in your car that can be used by pests like rats, mice and cockroaches as entrance. There are many nooks and corners on your cars that these small critters can use to hide or nest. When you return, you might be surprised on a pest colony that has already established itself inside your car.