I am wondering how a vehicle (be it a motorcycle or a car) should be stored when it won't be driven at all for a long time. What steps should be taken to maintain the vehicle's health as much as possible and to revive it more easily once it will be driven again?

Please note that I am not asking how to revive a vehicle after it has been sitting for a while, but rather about the steps that can be taken beforehand to prevent damage and wear. This question is also not about a vehicle that is only used sporadically; it is about a vehicle that won't be driven at all for a prolonged period of time.

  • Is a "prolonged period of time" 4 months or 4 years? Just so everybody is operating on the same assumptions
    – Zshoulders
    Apr 12 '17 at 20:06
  • @MooseLucifer it's not a duplicate. I'm not asking about whether it's okay, I'm asking what has to be done when it has to happen anyway. That's a different question.
    – Ben
    Apr 12 '17 at 23:23
  • @Zshoulders in my case, more like 4 months rather than 4 years, but I wanted to ask the question in the broader sense so it could be useful to others.
    – Ben
    Apr 12 '17 at 23:23
  • @Ben If you read those answers, they apply to your question. Apr 13 '17 at 19:30
  1. FLUIDS -- Remove all fluids. I suppose you could keep the windshield washer fluid, but everything else is going to go bad. Gas and hydraulic fluid will absorb water, oil detergents will break down, rust inhibitors in the coolant will wear out, etc. Also keep in mind that these are all, esentially, dangerous chemicals and some care must be taken in storing them. Easier to get rid of it all. (transmission fluid might be okay but I'm not 100% positive. Hopefully somebody else could clarify)
  2. LOCATION -- Store it some place dry, temperature controlled, and inside, if possible. Obviously that is not going to be accessible in many situations, so get as many of those as you can. DRY is by far the most important of these 3. Sitting out in the sun is going to be bad for the paint and interior. Rain, hail, and wind are going to affect it as well. At least cover it with a tarp, it will help to keep some of UV away. Don't park it on a slope, in case it rolls away.
  3. EXTERIOR PREP -- Clean and thoroughly dry the vehicle. Applying a coat of wax would help to protect the paint. If there is any bare metal present, at least spray over it with some clear coat (a couple bucks at an auto parts store). Sanding off some clearcoat is way easier than having to repair rusted out body panels, in my opinion. Consider POR-15 or some other rust treatment on the frame if you are in a particularily wet environment (and have the time/$$$)
  4. TIRES -- The tires are going to be toasted by the time you come back. If you have an old set, put those on and sell the current ones. Once they go flat (and they will) the wheels may get flat spots from sitting for so long. This will ruin the wheels. If its in the budget, get a set of cheap steel wheels for it to sit on while you are gone. Chock the wheels. On the other hand, you could avoid this by storing the car on a set of jackstands. While this is theoretically safe for the car, you need to consider where you will be storing it. If there is going to be kids around, not worth the risk. In some jurisdictions, you may be liable if some hooligans drop the car on themselves. A vehicle lifted off the ground is fundamentally more dangerous for people near or around it than one that is sitting firmly on the ground.
  5. ELECTRIC -- Take the battery out.
  6. INTERIOR -- Thoroughly clean the interior of the car. The less crumbs and under seat french fries you have, the less attractive your car will be to varmints. If you don't want to have to deal with a thick layer of dust on your return, you can put some old sheets or some kind of cover over the seats, dash, etc.
  7. VARMINTS/IDIOTS -- Depending on the local pest population, you may need to worry about insects nesting in the car, rats eating your car, or a copper thief stealing your wires. Invest in pest control/cats/theft deterrent as appropriate for your geographic situation. Keep in mind tort law and the issues that could arrise from somebody injuring themselves near or around the car. Probably bears another question on the law stack.

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