Florida is known for our wonderful neighbors up North spending the winter here to get away from the snow and cold weather. When it is time to go home some leave their vehicle’s to use the next time they visit. This brought to mind, cars that sit for any period of time also should be taken care of before hand to assure you have a good running vehicle upon your return.
Here are some tips to maintain your vehicle so it will be ready for you when you return.
Cars or Trucks need special care for the tires, battery and keeping critters from getting inside your engine and making a home. Yes, these squatters can be a hindrance.
Hopefully you will not have to leave your vehicle outside, but if you have no choice, give it a cover that will help it fight the weather, sun damage, bird droppings and for the most part to keep it dry. Parking it in the garage is the best bet and even a cover on it in the garage will keep it cleaner from dust settling.
Florida summers are very hot and a garage heats up to. Even so, rats, mice, and other critters could choose your garage and vehicle to get out of the outdoor heat. While that friend is taking out the car for a spin, have them check for any critters in the air intake, exhaust pipe, or up into the engine. You can also take steps to prevent critters from coming in by contacting your local pest control for advice.
Keeping a full tank of gas prevents air and moisture build up which could lead to rust. Make sure you top off the tank before storing. You could also add a fuel stabilizer that will ensure your gasoline is good for up to 12 months.
Changing the oil is a good idea when storing your vehicle. There are contaminates in used oil that over time can do damage to the engine.
Antifreeze is a must in the Florida to keep your vehicle form overheating. It has a lower boiling point then water and additives to prevent corrosion. Make sure all our fluids are up to date and full before storing.
Your tires will feel the impact of pressure from a vehicle sitting for a prolonged amount of time and could develop flat spots. Check the pressure before storing and if needed fill the tires to the recommended pressure. This information can be found on the sidewall of the tire near the rim or your owners manual. If you could have a family member or friend take the vehicle out for a short spin, it will help prevent the flat spots. To ensure vehicle stability place chocks (tire stoppers) behind the wheels. Just make sure you remember to remove them before taking the vehicle out again. Another option is took take the wheels off completely and put the vehicle up on jack stands at each wheel. This will prevent the flat spots and maintain the quality of your tires.
What do you do with the battery? A battery will lose its charge if let set long enough. If you have someone to take care of your vehicle (taking it out for a spin for the tires) have them drive it for about 20 minutes every two weeks to maintain the battery charge. If not then you could disconnect the negative lead on the battery and upon your return, reconnect and charge the battery before taking it out. This means you will be resetting the clock and radio.
Before storing give your vehicle a good cleaning and waxing. Just like you would cover it up from the outside elements if storing outside, you would not want to leave any of those elements on your vehicle before storing or this can cause damage to the paint.
Is Auto Insurance necessary even when storing your vehicle? Depending where you live some states may allow you to cancel your auto insurance policy and turn in your tag to show you are not driving the vehicle. This can be costly in the long run when you go to renew your insurance and tag costs. Comprehensive Coverage is an alternative if you do not want to keep up your full auto insurance while your vehicle is in storage. This coverage varies from state to state and is for fire, theft, damage from vandalism or weather and may be offered for up to 6 months. This coverage also makes it illegal to drive the vehicle, so if you have someone taking care of your vehicle while you are away, you will want to maintain your current insurance. Check with your local insurance company to find out the options best for you.