Do you have a vehicle that you need to store for the winter? Do you have a motorcycle, convertible, or recreational vehicle that you’d like to store long-term? Are you heading off to school or leaving on military deployment?
All of these situations warrant long-term storage of the vehicle — seemingly, a simple situation that necessitates simply putting your vehicle in a garage for however long you want.
But beware — long-term vehicle storage involves more than just parking your vehicle somewhere. Especially in Wisconsin, winters can be harsh on vehicles parked outdoors, and even if you manage to park your vehicle indoors, there can be problems that occur over time if you don’t do some maintenance ahead of time.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent problems from arising during long-term storage of your vehicle. In this article, we’ll give you some tips for proper pre-storage vehicle maintenance, and we’ll also help you understand how to handle your insurance during long-term car storage.
Let’s begin with insurance.
Understanding Insurance During Long-Term Car Storage
When you’re not driving a vehicle for a long period of time, you may assume that you don’t need insurance at all. In fact, this isn’t true. Some types of insurance may not be necessary, but others are.
Take comprehensive vehicle insurance, for example. Comprehensive insurance takes care of things like theft, vandalism, building collapse, fire, and other unexpected events — whether you’re driving your car on a consistent basis or it’s parked for several months at a time. This is a type of insurance that you’ll never want to remove, and if you don’t have it on your vehicle yet, get it before storage.
Next, collision insurance may not seem like something you need, and this is partially true. Collision insurance can be taken off your vehicle if you don’t have a loan (if you do have a loan, your lender won’t allow you to remove collision insurance). Just keep in mind that if you remove collision insurance, not only will you have a lapse in coverage (not good in the eyes of insurance agencies), but you may not actually save very much if you’re only storing your vehicle for several months.
Proper Pre-Storage Vehicle Maintenance
Here’s how to go about pre-storage maintenance for your vehicle:
- Start by finding a safe location for your vehicle during storage — in a storage facility, garage, barn, or another outbuilding (ideally with the concrete floors) is best.
- Fill up all of the tires to their maximum capacity, which will prevent flat spots from occurring.
- Fill up the gas tank. We also recommend adding something called a fuel stabilizer, which keeps the fuel fresh even after long-term storage. STA-BIL works well.
- Fill other fluids as well, making sure to top off antifreeze especially.
- Change the oil or have it changed at your local mechanic’s shop. Also, replace the air filter.
- Make sure that mice are deterred from entering your vehicle during storage by putting mothballs and fabric softener sheets inside and outside.
- Don’t forget to get your car washed and waxed before storage. Even small spots from sand and dirt can end up becoming worse over time if they’re not washed off.
- Last and probably most importantly, take the battery out of the engine bay if you can. If you can’t, that’s okay, but either way, you’ll need to hook the battery up to a battery tender to keep it charged.
If you don’t want to use a battery tender, you can also return to your vehicle every few weeks to drive it around for several minutes. This will keep the battery adequately charged.