By Lloyd L. Beverly, ASE Master Technician – Certified L1 & A9
Are you going on an extended trip for a month or longer and not taking your vehicle? If so, here are some tips that will keep your vehicle in great shape while you are gone.
If possible, keep your vehicle in a garage or other covered facility. Be sure to place traps or poison around your vehicle to keep rodents from nesting or chewing lines and hoses. If you have to leave it outside, the best option is to park on solid ground or gravel and use a weatherproof car cover.
The first step is to clean your vehicle. It may seem unnecessary to get it washed if you are not driving it, but water stains or bird droppings can damage the paint. A wax job is a good idea too.
Next, have the engine oil and filter changed to avoid having harmful containments from the used oil just sitting in the engine. Also, fill up the gas tank and use a fuel stabilizer to help prevent moisture and ethanol buildup. Remember, when filling your tank, stop at the first click and don’t try and “top off” the tank.
Today’s vehicles have sophisticated computers that require small amounts of battery power, even when the vehicle is not running. These computers can quickly drain a fully charged battery during extended storage.
The best solution is to purchase a smart battery charger that plugs into a wall outlet. This device will keep your battery from being depleted and allow the computers to retain memory. It can be expensive and time-consuming to have the computers in your vehicle reprogrammed if the battery is drained.
Extended storage can cause flat spots in your tires, more so with low-profile or performance-rated tires. Make sure the tires are inflated to the correct specifications. Another option is to store your vehicle on jacks so that the tires are not touching the ground. This option requires special care and equipment to properly set the vehicle. It is recommended to contact a professional for assistance.
When you are ready to start driving again, remove the smart battery charger and check under the hood for any evidence of rodents. Check your tire pressures and look under the vehicle for any leak evidence. Then check the fluid levels.
Next, test the brakes in your driveway and take a short test-drive around your neighborhood to make sure everything is working correctly. If something is amiss, get it evaluated and repaired as soon as possible.