How To Properly Prepare Your Car For Long Term Storage: The Full Guide.

If you’re putting your car into long term storage, it's important to do a few things before covering the car and heading out. By going through this checklist and properly preparing your car for storage, you can ensure that you won’t have gunk in your engine, moisture in your tank, or a dead battery when you’re ready to hit the road again. Let’s jump into the list...

Why Prep Your Car For Long Term Storage?

Prepping your car for long term storage can prevent serious issues that could cost thousands of dollars when you start using your car again. For one, engine buildup is common when your cars left sitting for weeks or months at a time. That’s where the myth of “starting your car once a week” comes from.

In fact, starting your car and idling the engine doesn’t actually warm up the hoses and the rest of the parts that need to be circulated. If you plan on having someone start your car, it's better to have them drive it for a few minutes to properly lubricate everything.

If you live in Tracy California, there’s plenty of places to store your car long term. Here’s a few options:

  1. Extra Space Storage: Offers a free month. Located at 787 E 11th Street in Tracy, CA.

  2. Public Storage Units: Offer a $1 first month. Located at 300 E Larch Rd. Tracy, CA.

  3. StoreQuest Express Storage: Tracy, CA. They don’t specify any special for the first month.

More links to long term car storage in Tracy CA:

  1. USSelfStorage

  2. SpareFoot

Of course, if there are any issues with your car when you start it or if you have any auto repair needs, California Auto Body Tracy services all makes and models. We do auto repair, have a full car paint shop and we can handle everything you need to restore your car to its former glory.

Change Your Oil Before Storing Your Car

Changing the oil in your car, even if you’re not due for an oil change is a great move since used oil may have solids and other gunk elements that can build up in your engine if it's left sitting. However, if you’re only leaving your car for a week or two then you don’t need to change your oil or do any preparations other than covering your car if it's not garage kept.

Clean Your Car

Cleaning your car before leaving it may seem a little strange. After all, you won’t be driving it so why wash it right? In reality, leaving dirt, dead bugs or bird droppings on your car for weeks and months at a time can damage your paint. You’ll also want to clean the underside of your carriage, wheel wells and wheels to make sure you’re not leaving mud or grease on there either. And, if you have it in you, put a fresh coat of wax on the car just to be extra protected.

Fill The Tank

Another seemingly counterintuitive point is to fill your tank before taking off for 30 days or more. Keeping the tank full prevents water and moisture from accumulating in your tank as well as keeping the gas tank seals lubricated. It's also a good idea to purchase a stabilizer for your fuel which helps prevent ethanol buildup and gunk from forming in your engine. Fuel stabilizers also prevent your gas from degenerating while it's in storage.

Charge The Battery Or Disconnect It Before Storing

There’s nothing worse than uncovering your spotless car after a long holiday and finding out the batteries dead. While the battery will die if you leave it for several months, you can prevent this issue if you have a friend or family member take your car for a spin 2-3 times a month for 15 minutes or longer. This gives the alternator time to charge your battery and if they’re doing it often, your battery will stay charged without any issues.

However, if you don’t have someone to run your car, you can disconnect the battery cables. You’ll lose your settings for time and radio but it's worth it if you don’t want to jump your battery when you get home.

Don't Use Your Parking Break

Keeping your parking brake on for extended periods can cause the pads and rotors to fuse together. With that said, it's best to keep the parking brake off and use tire stoppers if you think your car is at risk for rolling while you’re away.

Inflate Your Tires

Inflating your tires to their recommended pressure before leaving your car helps to prevent flat spots from forming. This is especially important if you’re leaving your car in a cold climate or you have low-profile tires on your car. If you have someone driving your car though you have less to worry about since the weight of your car won’t be pressing down on the same spot the whole time you’re gone.

However, if you’re leaving your car for more than a month, and you don’t have someone driving it, you may want to consider taking your tires off and putting the car on jacks until you get back. Leaving your car for several months unattended can destroy your tires and require you to get a whole new set when you get home.

Don't Let Your Insurance LapseThis is a precaution that should be taken by anyone leaving their car. It may seem pointless since you won’t be driving the vehicle but, if something unexpected does happen you’re still covered. Additionally, cancelling your insurance will put a gap in your coverage that could cause your rates to spike when you get back.

Cover Your Vehicle

If you’re storing your car outside or anywhere other than a garage, then it's a good idea to cover your car. And if you’re storing your car outside, consider buying a waterproof car cover.

Before Taking Your Car Out Of Long Term Storage & Driving It Again

When you get back to your vehicle after an extended storage time, it's a good idea to run through a few checks before driving to ensure it's safe.

  • Check the tire pressure. If it's low, you can often fill it at your local gas station.

  • Check oil levels.

  • Reconnect the battery if you disconnected the wires.

  • Check under the hood to make sure there’s no critters or hose leaks.

  • Check all fluids to make sure they’re full.

  • Check your brakes to make sure there’s no rust on your rotors. If it's minimal, the brake pads will often remove the rust spots when driving. If you’re unsure, have a mechanic check it out to certify that it's safe for driving.


Preparing your car for long term storage doesn’t have to be scary or daunting. Following the simple tips listed above will help to ensure your car is preserved and safe for driving when you get back home. It should only take an hour or two to get everything ready and if you do it all, you should have a fully functional, engine grime free car that purrs like a kitten the first time you start it.

And if you find yourself needing a body shop in Tracy, Lyoth, Banta, Carbona, Mountain House or any of our surrounding areas, give us a call. We have a full auto repair and paint shop and we can fix everything from bumper damage to suspension and everything in between.