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Preparing your vehicle for winter storage

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February 13, 2023

Performance sports cars, classic cars, and luxury vehicles are the types of vehicles that make heads turn and mouths drop. Some of the cars that have turned our heads this year include the Aston Martin DB11 V8, the BMW M5, the Toyota Supra (finally!), the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the Audi R8 V10 Plus, the McLaren 570S Coupe, and the Subaru BRZ. So much power and beauty on that list, it's incredible.

They're also, obviously, the types of vehicles that you should not be driving in the harsh winter months, or their performance and look will start deteriorating quickly. In anticipation of the winter months, every owner of these sorts of vehicles must look into their self-storage options for their vehicle. At CubeIt, we store vehicles of all sorts, and love seeing the newest in performance vehicles roll in alongside the classics when October arrives.

Of course, before you put your vehicle away in self-storage, you need to prepare it properly for the "still life" they will live throughout winter. Read on to hear the best tips for how to maintain and prepare your vehicle for self-storage.

Choosing a storage location

Wherever you decide to store your vehicle for the winter, the most important things are that the location is both dry and secure. A home garage or a self-storage unit will work as long as the floor is concrete: any extra moisture from the ground, say if you tried storing your vehicle in a barn with an earth floor, can lead to rust or mold growth. You also want to be sure no one and no thing can get at the vehicle while it is in storage, so be certain the location is secure.

In terms of storing it at a self-storage facility, you have a few options that can work, depending on your vehicle and budget.

Outdoor storage

Outdoor storage is of course the most economical. If you are going to go this route, then make sure the parking area is well-lit and is well-secured. Also look for any potential hazards in the vicinity, such as large trees hanging above or lowlands that could flood. Be sure that all the doors are locked, windows and sunroof shut, the vehicle has been washed and waxed, and then cover the vehicle with a high-quality, tight-fitting cover before leaving it.

Covered storage

Covered storage options include carports, with protection from above, and warehouses, with enclosed protection. These options though are similar to outdoor storage, as they are in shared spaces, which means you must secure your vehicle properly before leaving them.

Portable storage

Other options include portable storage containers and proper storage units. These give you the advantage of your own space, allowing you to leave windows ajar for airflow, for example, and providing additional storage space for things like spare tires.

Clean and ready

As we mentioned above, it is important to clean and wax your vehicle before putting it into storage. Any contaminants that are left on your car can be detrimental to the finish if they are allowed to sit for extended periods. Cleaning the vehicle properly before storing it will prevent anything like this from happening.

We suggest taking the vehicle for one last drive after the wash to ensure the water has dried everywhere on the car.

Checking the fluids

Dealing with the fluids in your car is a very important part of the storage process. Contaminants in the fluids will breed the longer they sit still, making it difficult to start after being settled for so long (in the best case), or will damage your engine by clogging lines (in the worst case).

For the most part, this really just means topping up your fluids, such as brake and transmission fluids, as well as the coolant. Do the same with your gas, but pour in some fuel stabilizer as well, and then allow the car to run idle for 5-10 minutes so that the stabilizer circulates through the engine properly.

Finally, and perhaps most important, is your oil. Take a look at it, and be sure the oil has not reached its mileage limit. If it's dirty, then drain it, and top it up with fresh oil. Otherwise, if the oil is reasonably clean, we suggest leaving it in the tank and waiting until the spring to top it off; starting the season with fresh oil is always best.

Maintaining the battery

While there are some newer cars that insist the battery remain connected, if you do not own one of these, then you should disconnect the battery. The electronics in cars continue to work even after the vehicle is off, so leaving it for a long period of time will see the battery die.

Take the battery out and connect it to a battery tender (or "maintainer"). (For newer cars where the battery cannot be taken out, you should still connect one of these to the battery while it is in the engine.) A trickle charger is another option, but a tender is the best bet for the life of your battery. Trickle chargers never stop emitting a charge to the battery, and this can damage it over long periods of time (which is the position you are in when storing your vehicle for the winter, of course). A battery tender, on the other hand, will top off the battery and then stop emitting a charge; it will pick back up again when the battery loses power.

Finally, store the battery in a cool and dry place

Putting it in park

When you do leave your car in park, you should leave the vehicle in neutral and disengage the parking brake. Use blocks to prevent the car from movement, but do not remove the tires and put your car up on blocks: doing this for a long duration will be damaging to the vehicle's suspension.

Instead of removing the tires, you should actually inflate them to their maximum PSI, which you can locate on the sidewall of the tire. With the vehicle sitting for a long period, it is at risk of developing flat spots on the tires: inflating them to their fullest will work to prevent this from occurring.

Once it's parked, leave it that way. It is inadvisable to take your vehicle on a quick trip to "get the fluids flowing": what you end up doing is creating condensation within the vehicle's system without burning them off properly. Rather, when your car goes into hibernation, it's best to let it sleep.

Protecting your vehicle properly, especially if it's a performance sports car, classic car, or luxury vehicle, during the winter months is tantamount to you being able to enjoy it fully in the summer (and for us to enjoy it when you whiz by!).

If you have a vehicle that requires storage for the winter, speak with your CubeIt self-storage agent today about what we can do to keep your car ready for the dry summer roads