14 Tips For Storing Your Beloved Car In The Winter

Winter is quickly approaching which means it’s time to start thinking about parking your pride and joy for the season. Before giving your vehicle a well-deserved break from the elements, road salt and other contaminants can do some serious damage if left uncleaned or ignored.

As you get ready to store away your car this year, follow these 14 tips to ensure your vehicle stays happy and healthy all winter long

1. Check Your tire Pressure and Inflate/Deflate as Necessary

Proper tire inflation is essential to ensure a smooth ride, better gas mileage, and safe vehicle handling on the road. Before heading off into storage for the season, it’s essential to check that each tire has an appropriate amount of air pressure. Most vehicles’ recommended tire pressure levels can be found in the owner’s manual, on a placard on the driver’s door jamb, or a sticker inside of the fuel flap.

Don’t let an under-inflated, over-inflated, or leaking tire go into storage without being adequately taken care of beforehand. A properly inflated tire will have two lines around the middle of the tire instead of just one without enough pressure.

2. Wash and Dry Your Car Thoroughly

Once you’ve checked the tire pressure, it’s time to wash and dry your vehicle! Get rid of all those autumn leaves, salt stains, and nasty bugs to ensure a smooth-sailing vehicle when spring rolls around. What you do before winter storage will directly affect what your paint looks like once spring comes around. 

If you’re looking for an easy way to maintain the exterior of your vehicle during the winter, consider using a monthly car wash service or detailing package that takes care of all of these steps (and more) for you!

3. Wax Your Car One Last Time

Waxing your vehicle helps protect it from harmful road salt, environmental contaminants, and other effects of winterization. It also helps to keep the paint looking fresh all season long. Pull out that old can or bottle of wax you’ve been saving in your garage for this special occasion to give your car a shiny look before hibernating for the winter.

Also, be sure to bring your car to a reputable car detailer before storing it away for the season. They can help you get rid of any fine scratches or swirl marks, leaving your vehicle fresh and new for the spring thaw!

4. Fill Up With Good-Quality Gas

It’s important to fill up with premium gasoline when storing your vehicle for an extended period. Running your car on low octane fuel for ample time may cause damage to the engine or fuel system. When gasoline is burned, it leaves behind gum and varnish deposits that clog the fuel system over time.

Using octane booster additives like STA-BIL or PRI-G will help keep your engine clean for the long haul. Some vehicles may require more than one tank of premium fuel before heading into storage. To ensure the health of your car’s engine, be sure to consult your owner’s manual or speak with a professional technician.

5. Change or Top Off All Fluids

Before putting your car away for the winter, check every one of your vehicle’s fluids to ensure they are clean and topped off. Not only does this help keep the engine running smoothly, but it also ensures that you won’t find any unpleasant surprises when opening up the hood in spring! The most important fluid to check is antifreeze since it typically becomes depleted during storage time.

If there is no visible freeze protection, then the fluid should be clean and devoid of any sediment that may have built up over time. A professional can help you perform this inspection, or it can be done yourself with essential tools and know-how.

6. Unplug Your Car

Don’t forget to unplug all electronics inside of your car before storing it away for winter. This includes items like GPS devices, radar detectors, satellite radios, and power inverters. Just like your cell phone, these items can be drained of their battery life if left plugged in, even when the vehicle is turned off.

In fact, it’s a good idea to take out the car’s key as well since you don’t want this fob activating any electronics that may accidentally drain your battery.

7. Remove Seasonal Accessories

Remove vehicle stickers, decals, or anything that is not factory standard from the car before putting it into storage. Also, check all the lights to ensure they are clean and clear of condensation or dirt buildup. Be sure to wipe away any fluid residue in the headlight and turn signal casings that could cause corrosion over time.

8. Drain Your Washer Fluid

It’s incredible how much water can accumulate in a car’s washer fluid reservoir when it’s not used for even a month! To prevent this from happening, drain the old fluid out by cracking open the cap and letting any pressure inside escape into a container.

9. Disconnect The Battery

Ideally, you won’t start your car for at least six weeks while it is in storage. It’s important to disconnect the battery cables before throwing them on the front seat or tucking them under the carpeting. They can cause corrosion or even short circuit other components (i.e. the electrical system).

A quick way to disconnect the battery is to have a ratchet strap or strong zip tie nearby and use it as a makeshift bolt. Loosen the nut on one side of the cable by turning counterclockwise, then pull out any slack underneath your car before tightening it back up.

Suppose you intend on starting your car up once or twice during the winter. In that case, it’s best to install a trickle charger that discourages electrolysis while providing enough power to turn over the engine.

10. Cover Your Vehicle

It’s important to cover your car with either a soft blanket or thick tarp when putting it into storage to protect it from exposure to sun, rain, and snow. It’s best not to cover the car while keeping its tires on the ground, though, since this can lead to flat spots developing on them over time.

If you use a tarp, make sure it doesn’t come in direct contact with any of your vehicle’s exterior surfaces or roll on the ground, which can cause scratches or abrasions. Also, if you live in a humid environment, it’s best to leave the windows down about an inch or so at the bottom to allow for air circulation. This prevents moisture from building up inside your vehicle, which can lead to mold.

11. Use a Storage Facility

If you have access to a garage or other enclosed area, that’s great! If it’s more convenient for you, there are plenty of off-site storage facilities that can be used as well. The benefit of this is that your vehicle is protected from the elements and will likely see minor wear and tear rather than if it was kept on your property. That said, be sure to check the security and insurance of any facility you plan on using.

12. Add Fuel Stabilizer

If you plan on storing your vehicle for longer than three months, then it’s best to add a can of fuel stabilizer to the gas tank before putting it away. It will prevent the gas from deteriorating over time and also make sure that any sediment does not get pumped through to the engine when starting up again.

Don’t forget to check the oil level in your car before storing it away to ensure that it is at or near the manufacturer’s minimum recommended mark. After filling up, replace the oil filler cap tightly and wipe away any excess lubricant that may have spilt onto exterior surfaces.

Just remember, lots of preparation goes into storing a car for the winter, but it can all be worth it when you get to enjoy that new vehicle smell again next spring!

13. Get An Alignment Check

Research everything you plan on doing before doing it! Knowledge is power, especially with car repairs. Always make sure you understand the task before you do it. As always, if something doesn’t seem right or sounds too complicated, take your car to a professional and don’t risk doing damage by guessing what’s wrong.

14. Test Drive Your Car

Before leaving your car for the long term, make sure everything is in proper working order and test drive it to get a feel for how it operates and make sure nothing needs immediate attention. Keep this in mind when winterizing your vehicle as well! If something feels off or doesn’t work appropriately throughout winter, it’s best to take your car in for a checkup before the spring thaw.

The most important thing you can do with your vehicle is to keep it in proper running order so that no damage occurs when not being used. If anything seems particularly suspect, have a professional check it out before storing it away, so you don’t have any mechanical issues when it comes time to bring your car out of storage!

Final Verdict

If you follow these 14 simple steps before stowing away your vehicle for the winter, then it is likely to be in good running condition once you hit the road again next season. You never know what surprises you might encounter on the road, and it’s always best to be prepared for anything!

Our Recommendation

As a car owner, only you know what is best for your car. If you can afford to get a car detailing, we highly recommend you do. It will make your car look amazing inside and out. Not only that, your car’s surface will continue to be protected from UV rays, dirt and debris over the next few months. If you’re on a budget or just need a quick clean then a car wash is the obvious choice. Just be aware that scratches can potentially occur even with an automatic car wash. We hope this article was helpful for you to make a decision towards how to clean your car. At PAD we offer top of the line car detailing service. If you’re interested in getting your car detailed you can view our services HERE. Check out our other blog articles to get updates and learn more about car detailing.