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How to preparing your car for winter storage


If you live in the north or Midwest, you understand the sad reality of long winters and salt-covered roads that force us to winterize and store our hobby cars, sportscars and everything other than daily drivers and trucks that can fit a snowplow. Further south, winterizing might not be a concern but long term storage is something most car drivers will be faced with at one time or another. So, before you drive your ’72 El Camino into the shed for the next four months, browse over our step-by-step guide of how to properly prepare your car for storage:

Prepare Your Storage Location

If you store your vehicle in an unheated storage unit with concrete floors, lay down a large tarp to reduce the chances of moisture creeping up from the floors. For personal garages, consider covering up the windows or applying a UV tint to keep out damaging sunlight. No matter what the location, look for signs of vermin, and lay down traps if necessary. Plug any small holes in the walls or floor that might encourage critters to escape the elements and find a comfortable place to nest. Ideally, it’s best to store vehicles in a dry, climate-controlled environment to prevent moisture build-up, however cars can be forgiving! A regular garage is fine too.

Replace Your Engine Oil
Keep your engine oil fresh

Replace Your Engine Oil

Between oil changes, small sediment can build up in your engine. While it sits in storage, that sediment can settle in the lower parts of your engine, so it’s important to flush it out with fresh engine oil before that happens. After storage, getting an oil change should be near the top of your list so that you aren’t driving with old oil.

Stabilize Your Fuel

Before storing your vehicle, make sure you have a full tank of gas. The more air in your fuel tank, the more opportunities for moisture to get in and cause corrosion problems. By keeping the tank full you’re making sure air can’t get in, and the tank stays properly lubricated. Reputable stabilizer additive will prevent the gas from oxidizing, or going bad, and bonds with the gasoline to prevent it from evaporating. Once the stabilizer is added, run your car for about 10 minutes to make sure the stabilizer fully circulates throughout the entire fuel system.

close up Flatstoppers
Protect your Tires: Use Flatstoppers for ultimate protection

Protect Your Tires

Your storage location should always have some kind of floor protection by now; either a tarp that you’ve added, or perhaps your garage already has rubber floor pads. Both will prevent that awful moisture creep and reduce the chances of corrosion in your brakes, undercarriage and other susceptible areas. If your tires will be sitting unmoved for 30 days or more, they run a high risk of developing flat spots, which will affect how smooth your ride is after you pull your car out of storage.

To avoid that issue before it even begins, we recommend using our premium quality FlatStoppers tire cradles. One key differentiator between FlatStoppers and similar products is their patented 100% high density foam design which allows the cradle to adapt to the shape of the tire for a natural fit. Also, their high-traction coating has been proven time and time again to stay in place on some of the smoothest surfaces – plastic modular flooring, epoxy flooring and others. Lastly, FlatStoppers are engineered to not conduct heat or cold up into your tires.

As an alternate tire storage method, you can remove the tires completely or set your car up on a lift or jack stands. Regardless of the option you choose, make sure you wash your tires thoroughly before storage and take special care to dig out any small pebbles that could deform the tread if left over time.

Remove the battery
A man disconnecting his car battery

Remove the battery

Once the car is in its storage location and the tires have been attended to, it’s time to remove the battery. Store it separately in a temperature-controlled environment, and ideally leave it on a trickle charge so that it doesn’t go flat after months of inactivity. If you haven’t changed your battery in several years, now is also a good time to test it – it might be on its last legs, in which case simply replace it with a fresh one when it’s time to take your car out of storage.

Deter Mice and Other Critters
They're cute, but can find their way into exhaust.

Deter Mice and Other Critters

In the cold winter months, an exhaust or engine bay can look like a really comfortable place to hole up. Discourage that behavior and keep rodents at bay by blocking off the exhaust. Use a dryer sheet and a rubber band to create a tight cap that is breathable, or plug the hole with steel wool. Just make sure you’ll be able to get it out when spring rolls around! Dryer sheets are full of chemicals that animals despise, and let’s be honest, they’re not that great for humans either, so liberally place dryer sheets under your hood, in your trunk, under your driver and passenger seat, in your glove box, and any other nooks and crannies that might otherwise be appealing to small animals. An added bonus is that your car shouldn’t smell musty when you pull it out in a few months!

By taking the time and care to prepare your vehicle for proper winter storage, you can mitigate a lot of the problems that arise from moisture build-up, UV damage, small animals and more. For more information about our drive-on tire cradle FlatStoppers, please click here.

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