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Preparing Your Car for Long-Term Parking in Eight Steps

BY: Liz Juranek | Jul 14, 2015
Preparing Your Car for Long-Term Parking in Eight Steps

Whether you're leaving the family car at the airport lot for a few days or putting your classic muscle car into storage during the winter, it's a good idea to follow these eight long-term parking steps to help keep your vehicle in top shape while you're away.

1. Clean it

Give your car a good scrub before you leave. Washing it will help prevent the paint job from deteriorating and bug splatter from melding with the windshield. It’s also a good idea to detail your car inside and out. Not only does that ensure a dust-free interior when you return, but a family of mice is less likely to move in if your vehicle isn't acting as a fast-food crumb buffet.

2. Remove valuables

Be sure to grab important paperwork that you may need while your car's at automotive sleepaway camp, such as the vehicle registration. Also, take along any mixtapes, MP3 players, and loose pennies that may attract thieves.

3. Roll up the windows

You don't want to go through all the fuss of protecting your car only to turn the interior into a swampy mess, thanks to a thunderstorm or six.

4. Fill up the gas tank

Topping off your tank before you leave your vehicle will save you a trip to the gas station should you return jet-lagged. And while gas doesn't freeze even in the most bitterly cold winter conditions, any water in the tank or gas lines might. If you'll be parking your car for more than 30 days, you can add a gas stabilizer, which can be purchased at an auto-repair shop. It’ll keep the gas fresh for up to 12 months.

5. Send your car for a checkup

It's better to take care of general maintenance beforehand so you don't return to a vehicle besieged by issues. Talk to your mechanic about what services, such as oil changes and tire-pressure checks, need to be done, and take care of smog checks before they're past due.

6. Store your car indoors

If you have a choice, go for a garage or covered parking structure rather than an open lot. Your car will be safer indoors, plus you won't have to worry about the weather and bird droppings messing up your freshly washed hood ornament.

7. Contact your insurance

Let your insurance company know that the car will be in storage, especially if you're traveling and won't have easy contact with your vehicle or the insurance company. Depending on your state and your insurance plan, you may be able to cancel your coverage or reduce the premium.

8. Keep car-rental info handy, just in case

If you return to your vehicle only to find the battery died or the parking garage disappeared into a black hole, you'll be glad that you planned ahead and researched a car-rental company. At the very least, it’s a good idea to have the number for a taxi in case you get stranded.