Enhancing Skills

15 Tips To Store Your Car For The Winter Season

From preventing corrosion to preventing rodents living in your engine bay, if you plan to store your vehicle during the winter season, make sure you do it like a pro.

First, Why It’s Important To Store Your Car For Winter The Right Way

Mechanical devices such as automobiles aren’t made to be stored. Engineers don’t spend countless hours dreaming up ways to improve reliability of vehicles only to have you park them for six months. To stay fresh, seals need frequent lubrication, often from oil splashing around the engine.

To prevent corrosion, coolant and oil should be flowing through engines and related components on a regular basis. Tires develop flat spots when stored for six months, but suspension components can also develop issues if you try to elevate the wheels and take weight off the springs and shocks.

Transmission fluid can’t protect transmission components by sitting in the bottom of the transmission’s oil pan all winter. It is for all these reasons storing a car is never as easy as it seems. That said, there are some cars you just absolutely don’t want slopping around in the slush, the snow and the salt. Particularly if it’s from a vintage when rust wasn’t the enemy but, rather, a profit centre in a scheme of planned obsolescence.

1. So fresh, so clean

Get it absolutely as clean as you can get it. Give it a wash like you’ve never washed it before: Get on your knees and jet away crud underneath. Clean the wheel wells. Clean all the nooks and crannies you can. Find a stall at the wand wash you like, because you’re going to be there a while.

Dirt that’s not on your car can’t hold moisture against your car and lead to rust. Then give it a right proper waxing, with lots of arm-tiring, cliché-inspiring “wax on, wax off” moments. Make Miyagi-san proud. Wax any chrome pieces. Don’t use chrome polish, which has abrasive qualities.

Keep the interior dry and odour-free.

2 Keep the interior dry and odour-free.

Consider placing silica gel packs or another desiccant (dryness-promoting) product inside your car to prevent dampness from settling in. You can also place a container of baking soda on the floor inside your car to absorb odours and prevent the air from going stale.

3. Pass on the grass

Few things can turn a car from road-ready to crusher-ready faster than parking on grass. Park your car on a solid surface such as a garage floor or asphalt driveway. As level as possible, too.

This will help reduce moisture retention around suspension components, leading to rust, and it will also help highlight any fluid leaks. Miss the wrong leak and you could lunch your motor the first time you try to start it.

4. Warm isn’t necessarily better

Inside is the only way to go, but a warm place to park your car will only make it easier to start in spring. Cold has its advantages, too, namely, that water in solid form (ice) doesn’t cause rust at the same rate as liquid water.

When you take your car out of winter storage and hit the road, you’ll displace water that will only have been there in liquid form since the thaw rather than all winter long. Besides, a car only needs a day or two of warm weather to be just as easy to start. If you have garage that you heat for other purposes, fine, but we wouldn’t use energy just to keep a car warm.

5. Ditch the car cover (yes, really)

Not everyone is a big fan of car covers, despite what many may think. Even the good ones can trap moisture and dirt right against your paint. Give your car a good pre-winter waxing instead. But if you insist on wrapping up your ride during the cold months (hey, it’s your car), then check out our car cover review here.

6. Protect your wiper blades.

Prop up your wiper blades or wrap them with cloth to keep them in tip-top shape and avoid leaving marks and/or sticking on your windshield.

7. Charged up

There are two ways to safeguard your battery during winter: Take it out of the car and store it inside or leave it in the car with a trickle charger. If you take it inside, make sure to elevate it off a concrete floor either by not leaving it on a concrete floor or by putting some wood underneath it. Consider the in-car storage option. A fully charged battery won’t freeze, and it will make the next tip easier.

8. Start me up

Seals that aren’t getting a steady diet of oil will dry out and crack. Cylinder walls can develop some corrosion without the usual film of oil and coolant components similarly are use-them-or-lose-them propositions. So start your car regularly. We say at least once a week. Obviously, open the garage door or vent the exhaust outside.

And if you use a device to block the exhaust pipe and prevent critter intrusion, obviously take it out before you start the car. Let it run 20 minutes to get properly warmed up.

9. Plenty of fluids (Top up all the fluids)

It doesn’t just apply to the common cold. Give your car an end-of season oil and filter job, and run the motor for a bit afterwards to get the new oil distributed throughout. Brake fluids can also be problematic. Moisture intrusion into glycol-based brake fluids is inevitable, which can lead to corrosion.

Check it before you put your car away. Fill the fuel tank and use a stabilizer or (for diesels) anti-gel fluid. Your transmission fluid, whether standard or automatic, should be checked at the same time as the oil change.

Overall, there are essentially 6 vehicle fluids to know about according to Popular Mechanics, whether you’re checking them yourself or to keep in mind when chatting with your mechanic.

10. Don’t engage the brake

Normally, using the parking brake to keep your car or truck from rolling away is a good call. But this isn’t the case for extended periods of storage. There’s a slim chance that the brake pads could fuse with the rotors, rendering your brakes useless. A set of wheel chocks is your best bet if you don’t plan to lift your ride onto jack stands.

11. Preserve your tires to avoid flat spots, Change the tires (if you can)

Lifting a car off the wheels and letting the suspension components hang unnaturally in mid-air is a bad idea and so are flat spots on good tires. Our suggestions is to put on a set of the least-expensive used tires that fit and let them take all the flat spots you need them to. In spring, go back to your good tires and you’re set. Mount them on their own rims (used, of course) and you can change them yourself.

If you’re going to lift your car or truck on jack stands or blocks, the most attention you’ll need to give your tires is maintaining the recommended PSI. You might also want to put some wood planks under the jack stands to prevent indents on your floor.

If you’re planning to leave your car resting on its tires all winter, be aware that the tires could develop flat spots. Flat spots occur when your tires have been sitting under load for an extended period of time. The speed at which flat spots form varies from tire to tire, but performance tires are more prone to them. Drive your car for about 20 miles a week to help remove and prevent flat spots.

12. Get a Pad to Soak Up Leaks

Certain vehicles leak fluid while sitting, especially high performance cars or older cars. Buy an absorbent mat designed to go underneath a car during storage to keep leaks from staining the driveway, garage or storage space floor.

13. Vermin-proof the storage area

Your storage area should be clean and uncluttered. If you can see the wall-to-floor interface all around your garage, you’re golden. Clutter attracts mice and mice can, and will, find a way into your car. Check your walls and foundation for cracks and seal any you find. Leave out poisoned bait.

If you have pets, there are containers that will allow mice but not larger animals to get at the bait. Check with a local pest-control company for the best strategy for your situation. Mice can turn your prized ride into scrap metal in no time.

With manufacturers starting to use soy-based coatings for wiring insulation, rodents are becoming more of a problem in newer vehicles.¹ Here are a few ways to keep your pipes and wires from being turned into a nest.

Plug Up Entry Points

Plug the tailpipes and air intake ducts with steel wool or aluminum foil to prevent small animals (and insects) from getting into your car and making themselves at home. Make sure you also close the air inlets, since they can provide easy access for unwelcome guests.

Important: Don’t forget to remove the steel wool or foil from your ducts and pipes before you start your car.

Use Repellants

Rodent repellents are available in many forms. Poisons are effective, but not advised if you have pets or small children around. If you don’t want to use chemicals or poisons, peppermint, cayenne pepper, and clove essential oils are natural repellents. You can also buy devices that emit ultrasonic frequencies to drive rodents away.

Set Traps

Place a few traps outside your vehicle (never inside) or near known points of entry to catch critters before they can do any damage. If you go this route, make sure you check the traps often to avoid unpleasant smells. Catch-and-release traps are one of the most humane options available. They also won’t leave your storage area littered with dead rodents, or the problems they bring.


Just because you can’t drive your car for several months doesn’t mean you can’t work on it. Winter is the perfect time to tackle a big project or install some mods to get it ready for spring. If you’ve already modded your ride to perfection, make sure you check for leaks every now and then while you count the days until warm weather returns.

15. Contact your car insurance broker to ask about potential savings on insurance while your vehicle is in storage. 

You may be able to reduce the cost of your car insurance by making some changes to your coverage until you’re ready to drive your car again. If you do change any portion of your coverage while your vehicle is in storage, remember to get fully covered again before you pick it up in the spring.


All things being equal, storing a car is never as good as driving it. But if you have a car you absolutely don’t want to drive in winter, be sure to take the right steps when storing it.

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