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Protecting Your Vehicle When It’s Going to Sit Idle for Weeks or Months

If you have a vehicle that you know you’re not going to drive much, you can’t just leave it parked at the curb and expect it to be ready to roll when you need it.

When a vehicle won’t be driven for an extended period, there are several steps you should take to make sure it will still be road-ready when you want to fire it up again. The longer you will be away, the more steps you’ll need to take.

Drive Your Car at Least Once a Week, If You Can

Most of these measures won’t be necessary if someone is available to drive your car every week for at least several miles to get all the fluids flowing at their normal operating temperatures and to give the engine, transmission, brakes, and other components some exercise.

Car Storage Basics

If the vehicle is going to be parked for weeks at a time, here’s what you need to do:

Short-Term Car Storage (Up to a Month or So)

If your car is going to sit just for a few weeks:

·        Wash the car to remove dirt, salt, bird droppings, and other crud that can damage paint and cause rust.

·        Thoroughly vacuum the interior; you don’t want any food scraps that will attract small animals looking for an indoor dining experience.

·        Fill the gas tank to prevent moisture and rust in the fuel system.


Medium-Term Car Storage (Up to 3 Months)

Do all of the above, plus:

·        Wax the car to remove oxidation and provide a protective coating on the paint.

·        If temperatures are going to dip below freezing while you’re gone, check the engine coolant to make sure there’s enough

·        Release the parking brake. Corrosion could lock it in place if you leave it engaged for several weeks.

·        Put the vehicle on jack stands to remove the weight from the tires. It’s worth the effort. Leaving the tires stationary for several weeks while bearing the full weight of the vehicle can result in permanent flat spots, and you will need to buy new tires.


Long-Term Car Storage (More Than 3 Months)

Do all the above, plus:

·        Add stabilizer to the gas tank to absorb moisture and prevent gum and varnish from forming and degrading the gas. Then fill the tank with gas and drive the vehicle several miles to mix in the stabilizer.

·        Try to keep squirrels, mice and other creatures from setting up housekeeping inside the vehicle, the engine bay, or even the exhaust system. These critters like to munch on wires that have organic coverings, and that damage can be costly to repair. Spread moth balls or anti-static dryer sheets around and under the vehicle.

·        Pull the windshield wiper arms away from the glass so they don’t stick or leave marks.

·        Treat leather and vinyl upholstery with conditioner to prevent drying and cracking.


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