STORING A CAR: How should I prepare my car for long term storage?


Firstly, from June 2011, a car has to be continuously insured unless it is stored off the road and a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) made. Link to how to SORN a car.

ALWAYS switch off the radio and all electrical components such as the interior light BEFORE switching off the ignition whenever leaving a car standing for a week or more. Most battery draindowns are through the radio. Switch the interior light off entirely as the 'see you home' delay can fail and cause a draindown. Also, check that the trunk light and the glovebox light go out when they are closed. You do that by switching a mobile phont to record movie mode and shtting it in the boot and the glovebox. If it records darkness all is well. If it records light, you need to remove the bulb,

Have the oil and filter changed. Make sure the coolant corrosion inhibitors have not degraded (they usually have after 3 - 4 years, so have the coolant changed). If the car has ABS, make sure the brake fluid has been changed within the past two years or the ABS pump could suffer internal corrosion from moisture absorbed by the fluid. Clean and polish the car. Take it for a reasonable length dry run to thorougly heat through all systems and evaporate off any condensation. Overpressure the tyres to 40+psi help prevent them flatspotting, then put it in the garage still hot from the run. Connect up to a trickle charger which monitors the battery and keeps it to a constant 13.5 volts without damaging the electronics. Leave one window open a crack to keep the interior ventilated, but not open enough to allow mice to get in. Cover with a cotton sheet.

Do not start the car and run it up to temperature. That causes more condensationm problems than it solves.

If storing outside, Dupont Tyvek car covers from Halfords allow some breathing, but condensation will also occur under them. They need to be tied down with a washing line wrapped under the car to stay on in a high wind.

Pushing it in one direction will help prevent flat-spotting of tyres.

Pushing it backwards and forwards will help keep brakes freed off.

Nothing you can do about the a/c unless you take the car for a run. You might preserve the a/c seals by starting the engine, but will create a lot of condensation and lube oil dilution.

Regarding fuel in the tank, over one winter, if the tank is full you won't get much condensation over the top of the fuel in the tank.

How critical that is depends on in whether the tank is plastic composite, alloy, stainless steel or plain mild steel. (With a mild steel tank condensation can bring a rust problem.)

The disadvantage is the weight of the fuel on the springs and on the tyres.

If leaving for years, then fuel with high moisture bio content may partially emulsify, so empty the tank and insert some dessicant strips via the sender pump access panel to absorb the condenstation.

A couple of other tips: If its an automatic make sure you can get access to the battery because if it's flat when you return you can't put it into neutral, push it back and get the engine cover up. I know this from experience. Also leave the handbrake off to stop the rear brakes corroding and locking on.

Don't ever put a car away wet, especially in winter when road salt has been laid.


www.amazon.com does the Oxford Oximiser 600 battery conditioning trickle charger for £28.49.

More trickle chargers from

www.international-tool.co.uk; www.hamiltonclassic.co.uk; www.ctek.com www.toolconnection.co.uk; www.airflow-uk.com


Car storage specialists www.carbank.co.uk; www.classicarstorage.co.uk; www.classic-reserve.co.uk; www.northerncarstorage.co.uk; www.premiervehiclestorage.co.uk


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