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How to Store a Car in a Storage Unit

Published On: October 15, 2019By

Guardian Storage will help you learn how to store a car in a storage unit.

Storage Unit For a Car

Your car is one of the most valuable items you own. Whether you are looking for a car storage unit to clear up space in your garage, protect your car during the winter, or you’re going away for an extended period of time, you want to keep your car safe. It’s important to know how to properly store your car to avoid causing damage. Following these important steps will help keep your car in working condition no matter how long you plan to store it.

Where should I store my car?

If you are storing your car for more than a month, you should look into an indoor car storage option. Many people prefer storage units, as they offer a dark, sealed space with 24/7 security measures.

What do I need to store my car in self storage?

To store your car in a storage unit, it needs to be in running condition. You’ll also need to bring in your registration and proof of ownership.

Can I work on my car in my storage unit?

No. If you need to work on your car, do so off-site before bringing your car to your storage unit.

What’s the difference between storing my car in a garage vs. a storage unit?

Storage units are completely sealed, which will protect your car from all outdoor elements. If you are using a reputable storage company, there should also be 24/7 security measures. In a garage, your car will likely be more exposed to the elements and pests from the opening and closing of your garage door. Your car will also be more at risk of being scratched or bumped in a garage as opposed to a storage unit.


Steps to Storing a Car in a Storage Unit:

Determine what storage unit size you will need

Start by measuring your car, making sure to include the side mirrors. You will typically need at least a 10×20’ unit but may need to go up to 10×30’ depending on the size of your car.

Fill your gas tank

An empty or slightly filled gas tank is more prone to condensation, which can cause rust in your fuel tank. A full tank of gas helps absorb moisture, prevents corrosion in the fuel lines and engine, and prevents the seals from drying out. Add a fuel stabilizer, as it will prevent your gas from deteriorating for up to a year.

Change oil and fluids

Before storing your car, you’ll want to do an oil change. The oil in your car contains contaminants, and when not changed frequently enough, they can damage your engine. If you live somewhere particularly cold, you’ll want to top off your antifreeze. It would be best if you also looked to replace the brake fluid and coolant. Not taking the time to replace fluids leaves parts of your car vulnerable to corrosion and oxidation. After replacing the necessary fluids, take your car out for a short drive to circulate them.

Disconnect your battery

There are a few options for taking care of your battery while your car is in storage. Your first option is to remove the battery altogether. This is the best option if you live somewhere that experiences extreme cold, as batteries are more prone to freeze and crack in these conditions. Once you remove the battery, store it somewhere warm to keep it safe from cracking and leaking.

If you don’t want to remove the battery from your car completely, you can disconnect it. This can be done by disconnecting the negative battery cable.

The last option is to connect your car battery to a trickle charger or a battery tender. This option is limited to units with access to electricity, so keep this in mind when looking for a storage unit. You should be able to run your cables up through the underside of the engine bay. This allows you to keep the hood of the car closed to use your car cover.

Clean and protect your car

Thoroughly clean your car inside and out, making sure to vacuum up all food crumbs. If you plan to steam the interior, do so a few days before storing your car to ensure no residual moisture in storage. When placed in your storage unit, any moisture in your car will leave it vulnerable to mold and mildew. Once you’ve cleaned the inside, apply a coat of wax to the exterior of your car to give it an extra coat of protection.

Repel pests

When choosing a storage company, make sure they use preventative pest control measures to keep your belongings safe. While your storage facility may take preventative measures, it is still important that you also take steps to keep your car safe from pests. Start by placing a sock or rag in your exhaust pipe, as mice and other small animals tend to nest there. Use dryer sheets and cedar chips inside your car to deter pests without the strong chemical smell of other pest deterrents like mothballs.

Prevent flat tires

Before putting your car in storage, fill your tires to their maximum air pressure. The change in temperature while in storage will cause the pressure of your tires to reduce over time.

Your tires are also susceptible to flat-spotting when placed in long-term storage. Flat-spotting is when your tires flatten over time due to contact with the ground. To avoid this, place blocks or jack stands under your car’s rear axle and front suspension.

Release your parking brake

If you do not plan on using jack stands, this step is crucial. If left too long, your parking brake pads can fuse with the rotor and will become difficult to disengage. Instead of using your parking brake, use wheel chocks or blocks of wood.

Invest in a high-quality car cover

Car covers are important, as they protect your car from dust, dirt, moisture, and scratches. Invest in a high-quality, breathable cover for your car. Never use a plastic tarp as a replacement for a car cover, as it can – and will – scratch the paint on your car. Before using your car cover, make sure convertible tops are up, windows and doors are closed, and all valuables are taken out. Remove the fixed antenna and windshield wipers from the car and place them in the trunk.

Guardian Storage has storage untis that will allow you to store a car in a storage unit.

Removing your car from self storage

When removing your car from its storage unit, do a full check on all assets of your car. Check tires for cracks or flat spots and make sure tire pressure looks okay. Look at the undercarriage and exhaust pipe to check for signs of pests. Make sure to remove any socks or rags from the exhaust pipe before starting your car. Replace any necessary fluids and reattach the car battery. Start the car and let it run for a few minutes, making sure the car cover is off, and the storage unit door is open. When you start driving your car out of the unit, gently test the brakes. Take things slowly for the first few minutes to make sure everything is in working order.


By following these tips for storing your car in a storage unit, you will ensure that your car stays in perfect working order no matter how long it’s stored. To find a drive-up storage unit near you, check out our list of storage locations. For more storage tips, sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Looking for more vehicle storage information? We also have a full blog on how to store a motorcycle in a storage unit.