Traveling without your car this season? Make sure your car is ready for its hibernation with these tips on how to store a car for the winter!
Keep your battery fully charged
Prevailing wisdom once taught to disconnect the battery if you plan to store a car for the winter. However, the disadvantages of disconnecting the battery on a modern car outweigh any benefits. When there’s no power to the vehicle’s electrical system, it will erase computer data. This includes simple things like the clock and radio station settings, as well as more complex values such as powertrain calibration adjustments.
A simple solution? “You’ll want to make sure you have a battery tender to keep your voltage topped off so you aren’t stuck with a dead battery,” said Ray Conkle, manager at AAA Car Care Plus Gahanna. A battery tender or trickle charger is a small device, often available for less than $100, which provides a stream of power to prevent a battery from dying. Remember to unplug any devices, like chargers, that can deplete the battery as well.
Get all of your battery service needs with AAA here.
Next, top off your antifreeze. When the engine is cold, raise the hood and locate the reservoir for the coolant recovery system. The reservoir will have upper (hot) and lower (cold) level markings. If the fluid level is below the lower mark, add coolant up to that point.
You won’t be using it right away, but check your windshield washer fluid: “If you still have summer fluid and you go to use it in the winter, that could be a problem,” said Conkle. AAA advises using a bug-removing washer fluid in summer and a solution with antifreeze properties in winter.
Finally, Conkle says a full tank of new gas is no problem to leave over the winter. But if you don’t drive much and the fuel in your car is older, a gas stabilizer product like Sta-Bil can help keep it fresh for storage.
Tires, mice and more
Another useful tip on how to store a car for the winter is to inflate your tires properly before leaving, then place carpet remnants beneath them in the garage to help prevent flat spots. When you return, Conkle says, make sure to check the tire pressure again.
“If it’s not too far down — maybe 24 psi — you can still drive it to the repair shop and let them top it off for you,” said Conkle.
To keep windshield wipers in good shape, pull them up off the glass so they don’t become flattened or stiff.
Finally, to prevent uninvited guests like mice from moving into your vehicle, a few mothballs placed in the tailpipe and on the floor mats can be a good deterrent.
Wherever you’re heading as temperatures drop, taking these few steps on how to store a car for the winter can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Learn more about car care you can trust with AAA at AAA.com/carcare.