For various reasons people find themselves in situations where they need to go away, leaving their vehicle behind. Whether for an extended vacation, or a job in a new location, the need for storing the car rises and with this need comes certain important factors that need to be kept in mind.
The most important thing to know is that you cannot leave your car parked at the side of the street for that entire period as this kind of outright neglect can result in a damaged battery, messed- up engine, spoilt tires, or rats taking possession of your hood. Thus, certain steps need to be taken to ensure that the car doesn’t fall apart in your absence, but most importantly care needs to be taken to maintain the life of the engine so that the car is still usable when you return to it.
Here is what you need to do:
- Leave it covered – Instead of the street, store your car in the garage as this will protect it from outside factors and at the same time, provide it with a stable temperature to remain in. If you lack a garage, public storage facilities are there to provide accommodation at reasonable rates but under no condition should you leave it out on the street for an extended period of time. However, if you have no option at all, at least cover it with a waterproof sheet to keep it clean and dry.
- Ensure that the oil is changed – This is very important if the car is left unattended for long periods. Used engine oil contains certain contaminants that can be harmful to the engine so make sure you change the oil if the vehicle has been stored for more than 30 days.
- Keep critters away – A vehicle has plenty of places for rodents to chew and get into. Therefore cover gaps and spread mothballs along the perimeter of the vehicle to keep the critters away.
- Keep your tank full – This tip may not make sense to an inexperienced person, however, if you are leaving your car in long term storage this is a prudent move. Doing this will help prevent the inside of the fuel tank from accumulating moisture and prevent the seals from drying up. Making use of a fuel stabilizer is also very useful in order to counteract the buildup of ethanol thereby keeping the engine free from varnish and rust. Most fuel stabilizers like Sta-bil will help keep the tank free from deterioration for at least a period of one year
- Avoid keeping the car on the parking brake – Never do this when leaving the car in storage since too much contact of the brake pads with the rotors can cause them to fuse. Instead, get a tire stopper, also known as a choke, to keep the car stationary. If you are on flat ground though, this may not be necessary.
- Prevent flat spots – When your vehicle is left stationary, the tires are likely to develop flat spots as the vehicle pushes down on the tire footprints. Thus, you need to ensure that the tires are inflated to the right tire pressure. This situation is likely to be more common in colder temperatures or with vehicles having a low – profile or performance tires. Though having someone drive the car occasionally can help remove these flat spots, in some cases the tires may need to be replaced. Instead, you could consider taking off the wheels and leaving the vehicle on jack stands as the tires will remain in better shape without the weight of the car.
- Leave your battery charged – If your battery is left unattended, it is likely to get spoilt. Thus, it is important to ensure that someone gets the engine running at least every two weeks and keeps it running for about 15 minutes. Driving it from time to time will keep the battery in working condition and keep the engine and other parts properly lubricated. Also, putting on the air conditioner occasionally will help ensure that it is still in working order while keeping the air quality fresh. However, in the situation that you don’t find someone to regularly start your car, one option is to disconnect the negative battery cable. The only other option available that will guarantee that your vehicle is still working on your return is to get a trickle charger. This device will provide the vehicle with just enough electrical power for the battery not to discharge, by plugging it into a wall outlet.
- Maintain insurance – Cancelling your insurance can cause the company to increase the rate later on. So it is best to maintain your insurance or contact your provider to see what are the options available to you
By following these tips, there is very little possibility of your car giving you any problems when you return. So prepare your vehicle for storage and come back to find it in fine condition.