Car maintenance: The essential guide to putting your car in long-term storage

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If you're putting your car in long-term storage, be sure you perform these simple car maintenance tasks...

If you're putting your car in long-term storage, be sure you perform these simple car maintenance tasks to make sure your car is in great shape when you decide to take it for a spin again.

Body (interior/exterior)

You want your car to be clean and protected. Leftover bird droppings, water stains, tree sap and other environmental contaminants will damage your paint if left on your car. Be sure to remove food residue from your car's interior to keep from attracting rodents, as well. And for best the results, wax your car and apply protective products to seals, rubber trim and tires.

Fluid levels

Before storing your car, change all of the fluids: antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluids and oil. And don't forget to replace your filters! Contaminants in used fluids can damage the engine, even while it's not in use.

Be sure you store your car with a full tank of gas to prevent moisture from accumulating in your gas tank and keep seals from drying out. Add a fuel stabilizer to combat ethanol buildup and gum and varnish accumulation in your engine.

Take your car to an Atlanta-area repair center to get your fluids checked and changed.

Battery options

The best option to ensure your battery is in good shape when you take your car out of storage is to connect it to a trickle charger. If you don't have access to an electrical outlet for the charger, simply disconnect the negative battery cable or remove the battery entirely. You'll lose your radio and clock presets, but that's a minor inconvenience compared to a dead battery.

Tire maintenance

Tires are another important aspect of car maintenance, so be sure to inflate your tires to the recommended pressure level, especially if you're in cold temperatures or have performance or low-profile tires. Park your car with a wheel chock instead of using the parking brake: prolonged contact between the brake pads and the rotors can also compromise the brakes' integrity.

Insurance

Believe it or not, you don't want to suspend your car insurance. A gap in coverage can lead to increased rates or refused coverage when your car comes out of storage. Instead, check with your insurance company to see if they offer storage rates. These rates are typically so small as to be practically nonexistent, and the peace of mind they offer is well worth the price.

Storage environment

It's obviously best to store your vehicle indoors. Climate control isn't essential, but access to electricity for a trickle charger is nice. Consider Atlanta-area professional storage facilities, which offer increased security and peace of mind. Most facilities will offer to pick up your car and may even prep it for storage, and they should also check on your vehicle periodically, at least once a month, visually inspecting your car and monitoring fluid levels and air pressure in your tires. And the security of a well-lit and regularly staffed facility will bring you welcome peace of mind.

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