How do I prepare my car for long-term storage?

Planning on putting your car into storage? Here's our guide on how to prepare your car...

How do I prepare my car for long-term storage?
Author Avatar
Darren Moss
23 May 2016 08:44

If you’re going away for a long period of time (more than a month), or if you're not using your car over winter and want to protect it from harsh weather, then storing your car is a good idea. We’ve outlined what you need to do to protect your car while it’s in storage, and what you need to do to get it back on the road again afterwards.

How can I prepare my car for storage?

Keep the car away from the elements - leaving an unused car out in the open is not a good idea, as the rain, wind, prolonged sun exposure and winter snow will damage its bodywork. Try to store the car in a garage or, at the very least, cover it with a weatherproof car cover. These can be bought from retailers for as little as £30. If you are leaving your car in a garage, leave the windows open a little to allow the air to circulate.

Don’t leave the handbrake on - this may sound counter-intuitive, but leaving your handbrake on for an extended period of time may cause the brakes to fuse, particularly in cold or wet weather. Instead, use a piece of wood, or ideally a wheel chock, to prevent the car from rolling away. If you’re storing the car for more than three months, then consider raising the car off the ground by using blocks or stands. This will reduce the weight on the car’s tyres.

Keep it clean - any grime or mud left on the car before it goes into storage can cause damage to the paintwork and bodywork over time. Clean the car thoroughly before putting it into storage - this also means the car will (hopefully) look as good as new when you come to use it again.

Change the oil - if you’re leaving the car for an extended period of time, usually three months or more, carry out an oil and filter service, which you can either do yourself or ask your local garage to do for you. You can also buy and use oil and fuel additives that will stabilise the substances and prevent internal damage to the engine. It’s best to top up your fuel tank, too, leaving as little space as possible for condensation to contaminate the fuel.

Protect the battery - if you’re leaving your car unused for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to invest in a battery trickle charger and leave it plugged in. This will keep your car’s battery topped up, and will maintain its condition until you start the car again.

Start the engine - this is optional, but if you don’t want to put additives in your fuel system then consider starting the car every few weeks. This will circulate fuel and oil, and keep the engine lubricated.

Leave yourself a note - when you’re finished with your preparations, write yourself a note detailing the steps you’ve taken to ready your car for storage, and what you need to do to get it roadworthy again.

How do I prepare my car for long-term storage?

Does the car still need to be taxed an insured?

Under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement Act of 2011, your car must remain insured while not being used. However, that does not apply if you make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

You can apply to make a SORN notice here

How do I prepare my car for long-term storage?

How do I get my car ready to return to the road?

When it comes to getting your car back on the road, you should carry out a number of checks to make sure everything is in working order. These include:

  • Check your tyre pressures and fluid levels
  • Carry out an inspection under the bonnet and under the car to ensure nothing is nesting there or any wires have been chewed through
  • Check the handbrake and brake operation
  • If the battery has been disconnected or has been on a trickle charger, reconnect it
  • Once the car is back up and running, book it in for a service at your local garage
  • Remember to insure and tax the vehicle, and make sure it has a valid MOT before taking it on public roads

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals from What Car?, sign up to our weekly newsletter here