How to Properly Store Your Car For the Winter

Everything you need to do to prepare your prized possession for long-term storage.


There are actually a ton of steps that need doing to make sure your car is in top shape come spring. Some of these may seem like a hassle, but trust us, they're all worth it.

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Add Fuel Stabilizer
fuel stabilizer
Alex Kierstein

We wrote an in-depth step-by-step guide on how to keep your gas from going bad this winter, but here's a reminder. Fuel only lasts around 30 days before it goes bad, so it's essential to use fuel stabilizer if you're thinking about long-term storage.

Do an Oil Change
<p>This one's easy, but no doubt one of the most important things you can do to ensure a long life for your truck (or any vehicle for that matter). Ford recommends you do this every 7,500 miles or six months (whichever comes first) for 2008 model year trucks and newer. For older, higher mileage trucks, always change your oil filter when you change your oil. Be sure to pick up the best oil for your needs. There are dozens of varieties of oil and a wide range of high mileage options tailored to increasing the life of older engines, so be sure to consult your owner's manual to ensure you pick the right viscosity-index for your truck. And then double check before you buy—having to visit the same auto shop twice in the one day for a single item is both embarrassing and waste of time.</p><p><img src="//" width="0" height="0" style="display: none !important; visibility: hidden !important; opacity: 0 !important; background-position: 0px 0px;"></p><p><img src="[TIMESTAMP]&"></p>
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It can't hurt to have fresh oil in your engine just before you store it away. This way, once you fire up your car for the first time come spring, it's using clean, untouched lubrication.

Lubricate Important Chassis Points

If you stop using a car for an extended period of time, parts that are supposed to flex and move will become brittle and start to crumble or crack, especially in the cold. It's important to keep these pieces fresh until the next time you hit the road.

Check your Coolant Protection Level
anti-freeze cap
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If you don't store your car in a climate-controlled garage, be mindful of how much coolant-to-water mixture is currently in your car. Without the right amount, the water can freeze and expand, causing catastrophic damage to your engine.

Prepare Your Battery
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You have three choices when it comes to battery preservation in the winter. Leave it connected, disconnect it, or install battery tenders. Read our in-depth guide here to learn how to care for your battery properly during long-term storage.

Block off your Exhaust and Intake

Small, cozy places like exhausts and intake boxes are prime real estate for rodents and other sorts of small creatures to thrive during the winter. Save yourself the headache and make sure there's nowhere for the little critters to enter your car.

Wash, Buff, and Wax Your Car
<p>For goodness' sake, don't use dish detergent. It'll hurt your paint. Some people say to steer clear of the wash pad because it's easy to drop, running the risk that you'll get damaging dirt and yard flakes in it. Some people say not to use the wash mitt, either, because the fabric cuff can scratch. My advice: Buy the mitt and flip the cuff inside the cavity. No scratches, no drops.</p><p><br></p><p>You may dread drying the car because it involves either using Chamois, which are so annoying, or buying a bunch of towels. Instead, use a silicone water blade to pull water off like a squeegee. A single towel will soak up what's left.</p><p><br></p><p>You might have used clay bars in the past to get the sap, tar, and bug guts that washing glides right over. Those are old news too, and now there's something better: Nanoskin AutoScrub. Once the car's dry, spray a detailing lubricant over a section of the car, and then run the AutoScrub Mitt in circles over it. Wipe dry with another towel, and move to the next section. You only need to use the AutoScrub when the paint's surface feels rough after a wash, so figure on a whole-car scrub only twice a year.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Materials</strong>: <a href="">S.M. Arnold Spun Gold Wash Mitt</a>, <a href="">Meguiar's Gold Glass Car Wash</a>, <a href="">Meguiar's foam pad applicator</a>, <a href="">Nanoskin AutoScrub Fine-Grade Wash Mitt</a>, <a href="">Nanoskin Glide Instant Detail Spray Lubricant</a>, <a href="">One Pass Silicone Water Blade</a>, <a href="">Chemical Guys microfiber towels</a>, bucket. (Pro tip: Use one towel per chemical product, and that goes for all steps. And one foam pad applicator per sealant or wax.)</p>

It's never good to leave a car dirty for an extended period of time. Acidic material could be eating away at your paint, while any car covers could rub dirt around the clearcoat and make scratches.

Park Your Car on a Tarp
Brian Silvestro

No one likes seeing an oil stain on their garage floor or driveway after a car's been sitting. Putting something under the engine (or any other leaky component) will save you the stress of having to scrub out some dark spots once spring comes around.

Use Desiccant Inside Your Car

Nothing sucks more than getting hit with a musty, moldy smell every time you open your car door. Fix it this winter with a dehumidifier product that sucks moisture out of the air.

Place Your Car On Jack Stands or Chock the Wheels
<p>Painted brake calipers originated back in the late 1980s. Back then, the top exotic cars with the most potent brakes often received Brembo calipers painted red. Because these cars had large-diameter wheels, those brakes were easy to see. The trend spread and now performance cars of all types wear calipers painted in a variety of hues. Porsche's Cayenne Turbo S models come with huge calipers painted an outrageous lime green.</p><p><br></p><p>What goes for phony badges is also true for brakes—people want their cars to have the features of supercars they can't afford, so some people simply paint their stock brakes. Of course, they usually don't use the high-temperature caliper-specific paint a carmaker has at its disposal (even though brake painting kits are readily available on Amazon for around $40) so the paint job isn't going to look great. Plus, many people do this to cars with ordinary tiny brakes, not the giant Bembros of a supercar. So by painting those calipers, the owners are drawing attention to the fact that their vehicle has small brakes. Probably not what they intended.<span class="redactor-invisible-space"><br></span></p>
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Parking brakes are known to give out at any time given enough wear, so it's smart to keep your car secure to it doesn't roll away. The simplest way to do that is jack it up in the air, or place a chock in front of the wheel so it can't move.

Use a Car Cover
Car tarp
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This one should be obvious, but we're going to mention it anyway. A car cover prevents dust and all sorts of other material from accumulating on your car. If you really want to make sure a car's exterior is protected, use a cover.

Use Rodent repellant Outside of Your Car
car wiring, car wire
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If you have a newer car, chances are it uses at least some soy-based wiring, which is something rodents love to munch on. Keep your car from becoming food this winter by using repellent near the exterior.

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