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Vehicle storage tips?

May 12, 2002
What sort of maintance do you all perform on your vehicles before you put them into storage?

I've got an 82 CJ7 I'm putting away right now. The tank is about 3/4 full with a bottle of STP gas treatment in it. Can I or should I mix Stabil in with? She will be packed away probably until April.

What about the engine and carb? You guys ever put any treatment directly through to coat the cylindar walls?

How about oil, should I change it now or wait until the spring?
Until April? Three or four months?

No special concern is required. All gas sold in the US today is plenty stable for three or four months, even a year.

You might give it a regular oil change early before putting it aside.

Disconnect the battery so the clock doesn't kill it. Have a charger handy to top the battery up again before you reconnect it.

That's all.
Cool, thanks guys.

Though why would you change the oil before? Wouldn't it just age in the engine over 4 months anyway?

Too bad I bought the Stabil already... Oh well, sure I'll use it some time.
Hi MicMurry-

Acidic compounds and water vapor can form in used motor oil. Changing it before storage is cheap insurance. Go ahead and use the fuel stabilizer and top-off the tank so that rust doesn't even have an opportunity to form. The drive home from the gas station will get some of the Stabil to the carburetors, which will minimize the varnish that can form while it is put away. You can get another oil change when the vehicle is pulled out of mothballs in a couple of months. An inexpensive trickle-charger can keep your battery nice and healthy. Have a pleasant New Year's celebration.

~ Blue Jays ~
Thanks for the advice Blue. I'm kinda confused though. Are you saying I should leave the battery on a charger for the 4 months she's out? If so wouldn't that cause the battery to over heat?:confused:
Hi MicMurry-

A trickle-charger can be used either with the battery attached or detached from the car in one's basement. By design, it won't overcharge the battery and supplies it with just the correct amount of electricity to keep it at the optimal performance level. Most trickle-chargers also have a jumpstart setting in case the battery is very low and allows one to get the vehicle going with household electrical service rather than relying on another vehicle and jumper cables. You can get them in any auto parts store.

~ Blue Jays ~
Can you start the engine and run it about once a month or so? That would help.
Oil change and grease her. Beware Jiffy Lube- I hope you do your own oil changes/lube jobs. Fuel stabilizer wouldn't hurt, either.
Hey, this is great! I'm putting my truck into storage for 5-6 months. It's a '96 Ranger. So, just disconnect the battery, throw a little stabilizer in it and change oil before she goes to "sleep"? Anything else?
Another thing to do is make sure your tires are inflated properly. This will help prevent flat spots. (At least that's what the show on the Speed chanel said to do)

Ah I see, thanks Blue. I get it now. :foot: The resistance of the battery stops the power flow as it reaches charge.

Avenger I've been told to let an engine idle at least 15 minutes if I'm not going to drive it. Supposed to burn out any water and coat the engine with oil again. I'll believe it. :D
Good point about flat spots on the tires. Might be worth putting up on axle stands (or bricks :) ) Had that happen after an eight month store and it was very annoying (thumpity thump).
If you change your own oil, wouldn't it be advisable to use synthetic oil?
Also, there's an oil additive that help the oil stay where it's supposed to be and helps every time you start up your engine.
There's one really good brand, that I simply can't think of right now. Sorry.
...Also, there's an oil additive that help the oil stay where it's supposed to be and helps every time you start up your engine....


(The folks on my Mustang Forum have lots of info about storing a vehicle for the winter. I'll see if I can find a good thread and post it.)
Do your oil change, and lube job. Take the battery out of the vehicle and place it in a dry cool place in your house and trickle charge it once every two months, or use a regular charger for only half an hour or until it just begins bubbling, you do not want to boil your battery. A common mistake is to leave batterys on the charger over night, which is way too much in most cercumstances. Fill the tank with gas and stabilizer.

Taking off the tires or placing the car on blocks is up to you. I wouldn't bother for storage times of less that 5 months.

It also doesn't hurt to give the vehicle a good wash and wax prior to storage. Many of the dust inhibitors they apply to dirt roads contain corrosive compounds similar to road salt, and they are murder to your vehicle components such as brake lines wiring, tanks, not just the body but the whole entire vehicle. Since the vehicle will be sitting and not subjected to the drying effects of engine heat, rusting in storage can be a big issue.
Car Storage Checklist v1.0
by Rob Chong
Excerpt from article previously published in Hoofprints.

1. Get underbody of vehicle oiled and rust proofed. (Krown, Rust Check, Ziebart, Apple Auto Glass etc.)

2. Optional: Give vehicle a quick wash to get rid of dirt and contaminants on the paint surface. (The anti-rust overspray on the side of the vehicle doesn't harm the paint. If in doubt check with the sprayer.) (Dry thoroughly with terry cloths or chamois. You can also at this time polish and wax the vehicle for added paint protection.)

3. Change oil and filter. 5W30 or 10W30 oil is good enough for storing. (Quaker, Castrol etc.)

4. Add anti-rust treatment to Radiator. (Prestone etc.)

5. Add one bottle of upper cylinder lubricant. (Karbout by Rislone or Top Oil by Bardahl etc.)

6. Add one bottle of Fuel Injector/Carburetor cleaner to fuel tank. (STP, Wynn's etc.)

7. Add one bottle of moisture/water remover to fuel tank, that does not contain alcohol. (STP, Wynn's etc.)

8. Add one bottle of gas storage/stabilizer/conditioner to the fuel tank. (Stabil, STP etc.)

9. Fill gas tank with PREMIUM fuel. (Sunoco 94 Octane etc.)

10. Inflate 4-6 psi over correct recommended pressure in the owners manual- and check every two-three weeks or so after. (Install Tire Minders Pressure Gauges on the valve stems. These change color as the pressure drops and make visual checks easier.)

11. Lay down carpet and or plastic on garage floor to prevent moisture.

12. Go for your last drive, run engine to proper operating temp or go for a good 20-30 minute drive, get home,
park the car, shut it off.

13. Open hood, remove battery from car, clean battery cables, and battery tray. Put battery in safe place away from the cold. Clean and spray the terminals with Rust Check either red or green can. Check it every month to make sure it retains a charge, use an automatic trickle type battery charger that if required.

14. When engine is cool, do the normal checks, top up any fluids that needs it.

15. Pull off the rubber hose at the bottom of the windshield washer tank and drain.

16. Lift off the air cleaner, lube all the linkages with a drop or two of light oil.
(Do not spray any heavy lubricating oil down carb. throat. This will gum up the carb.)

17. Change the fuel filter, check hoses and clamps.
(Replace that bronze type fuel filter in the carburetor with a small inline see thru type filter.)

18. Grease all fittings on suspension and drive train with grease, top up transmission and differential fluids.
(Use proper rear axle gear fluid, limited slip versus a locking diff. requires different and specific gear lube.)

19. Use Rust Check Gel in Green can to spray and lube door hinges and all latches and lock mechanisms.

20. Spray all the chrome pieces with Rust Check in Red can. Bumpers, moldings, door handles etc.

21. Spray your wheels and rims with Rust Check in Red can. Dab a bit of Rust Check on any Paint Chips.

22. Open trunk, remove everything including spare tire etc. Clean out all the garbage from the interior.
(This is to get as much weight off of the suspension as possible.)

23. Vacuum the interior, clean vinyl, plastic, leather with proper cleaners and protectants.

24. Remove the wiper blades and put them inside the car- or you can stuff a clean rag under each arm so the
wiper blades themselves are raised a half inch or so and is not resting on the windshield.
(This will keep the blades from getting flat and useless next year.)

25. If Rodents are a problem then get some moth balls or strong smelling soap. Place inside car, trunk and under hood. (Be warned though that like most smells, the hardy rat and mice can and will get used to the strong scent eventually.)

26. To absorb moisture inside car: use silica gel packs, buy them from a store or recycle them from shipping containers, or place 6 to 12 pieces of new/unused barbecue charcoal briquettes in a pie tin or open top container and place container inside car. Also place another container of briquettes inside trunk. Roll up windows, close doors, hood and trunk.

27. Raise car up a bit to take about 1/2 weight off of suspension and put on four jackstands- but Do Not let the suspension hang. (Remember to keep checking the tire air pressure regularly, and inflate to normal air pressure plus 4-6 psi more just in case of a slow leak.)

28. Cover car with a good car cover- Not Plastic. One that is breathable and does not trap moisture underneath. (Don't be cheap, get a good new cover and throw away that oil soaked blanket.)
Do not start the car and leave it running after storage. This is a waste of time. It will not lubricate the engine or drive train properly and will attract moisture once the engine has cooled down and this will cause rust.

Spring/Summer Tips

1. Change Oil and Filter, as well as Fuel filter if needed. Use regular or Synthetic motor oil, your choice.
2. Repack front wheel bearings with grease.
3. Check tires for damage etc. reinstall and re-inflate tires to correct air pressure.
4. Grease all fittings, hinges and suspension with appropriate type grease.
5. Check for any oil or fluid leaks. Check oil, trans fluid, coolant level, brake fluid windshield washer fluid etc.
Also check for cracked or broken hoses.
6. Pull door panels and coat with Rust Check. Check if door skins need replacing.
Check door fuzzies or weather-stripping to see if they need to be replaced.
7. Replace/fix any worn, loose/vibrating parts. Such as wiring, cables, springs, shocks,
headlights, parking lights, weather-stripping, mirrors, brake pads, hose fittings etc.
8. Check for any rust. Fix immediately!!!
9. Touch up any paint chips then Wash, Polish and Wax.
10. Get a fire extinguisher and keep it handy then:
Start the car and listen to the engine, make sure it sounds healthy. If not give it a tune up, check fuel hoses etc.
Check color of exhaust gases coming from tailpipes to make sure it's not burning oil (black/blue smoke) or not burning the fuel enough (black speckled residue sometimes mixed with moisture.) Sometimes certain cars are just plain oil burners and the various symptoms that would raise alarm bells in modern cars can be ignored in older muscle cars. Have it checked by a proper mechanic if you suspect anything is wrong.

If everything checks out, make sure to phone your Insurance Agent/Broker and put Full Coverage back on your vehicle- then......
Go for a spin. Enjoy!

Warning: you follow Rob's advice at your own discretion; I myself park my Mustang in an underground garage and once a month, when the roads are dry, I drive it around the neighbourhood until the engine has reached normal operating temperature.
Cockroachfarm, although I agree with everything you said as far as storage of an antique or collectible car:thumbup: and short of storing it in a climate controlled garage, I don't think you left anything out but the reality is most people don't go through that much trouble for a few months of storage.:(

What do you think the cash outlay would be to do that 28 step storage routine for the first time?:eek:
Car Storage Checklist v1.0
by Rob Chong
Excerpt from article previously published in Hoofprints.
Warning: you follow Rob's advice at your own discretion; I myself park my Mustang in an underground garage and once a month, when the roads are dry, I drive it around the neighbourhood until the engine has reached normal operating temperature.

Actually...if you read this right to the end...that's sort of what I said, isn't it. T.E. ? ;)

Yes, some of our Mustang owners are fanatics about this kind of stuff (and to a point, so am I) but I would never do everything that Rob listed here. I just thought there were some good points thrown in that someone here could make use of. For example, if you cut up a bar of Irish Spring soap into 3 or 4 pieces, it does a great job of keeping out the meeces - and smells better than moth balls. That, and a cotton cover, is about all I do to 'store' my car. In fact, I pamper my Mustang much more than I ever did any of my Ferraris - I used to drive my 328GTS many times in the winter when the roads were dry, salt residue be damned! :)

Nice little 'Stang and a convertible at that.

I wasn't bustin', just I've been through the restoration and storage ordeal, storing antique Packards and old BMW & Indian MCs for my mothers boyfriend I've learned there's a big difference between short term storage (3-6 months) and long term (6 months- years), what you've passed on it the ultimate, it's what Jay Leno probably does to his car.

Probably the best thing you can do for the car is fire it up every so often while it's in storage, the more activity around a car the less likely varmits are to take up residence in your car.

Then again I stored a 1968 Chevy Fleetside C-10 pickup outside in the woods and tall grass for 15 years and the truck still ran, (with about a half an hours work) Black Walnut were shooting outta the tailpipe like cannon fire but it ran.

I also had an '87 Escort GT stored in my barn done right and the discs still siezed to the rotors and mice still made a home of the insulation under the hood.
You'd be surprised how many members of our Mustang Forum/Club follow that 'storage list' to the letter - for a hiatus of 3 months! One guy puts his Pony away for the winter on September 30 - regardless of the weather. :rolleyes: Not me! Some of the nicest 'rides' I've taken with my various convertibles have been through late Fall. Unlike my knives, every one of my cars (and I've had some SERIOUS rides) has been an EDD = Every Day Driver (unless there was actually snow ON the roads). I just wish I had some mechanical skills. :eek: