Storing your car for the winter isn’t just about throwing a cover over it and calling it a day. With the right approach to winter parking, you can sidestep mechanical issues and avoid any unnecessary violations of winter parking rules or restrictions. Here’s a step-by-step guide that’s easy to follow.
1. Choosing the Right Spot for Winter Parking
The location where you store your vehicle for the winter can have a significant impact on its well-being. Ideally, you should aim to park your vehicle indoors, like in a garage or storage unit, which will protect it from the elements. If that’s not an option and you must resort to outdoor parking, find a spot that’s sheltered from wind and is not prone to flooding. Be cautious of overnight parking regulations, as many local governments enforce winter parking restrictions to allow for snow removal and street cleaning.
2. Prep Your Car for Its Winter Nap
Before you park your car for an extended period, you need to get it ready for its hibernation.
Give It a Good Clean
Wash your car thoroughly to remove any salt or dirt that could damage the paint over time. Apply a fresh coat of wax for extra protection.
Top Up and Replace Fluids
Change the oil and fill up your car’s antifreeze, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid to the appropriate levels. This helps prevent any internal corrosion during the winter.
Fill Up the Gas Tank
A full tank will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out. Add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from degrading.
Protect Your Battery
Disconnect the battery to prevent it from draining. If you’re storing your car in a place where temperatures plummet, consider removing the battery entirely and storing it in a cool, dry place.
Pump Up Your Tires
Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure to avoid flat spots. For long-term storage, placing your car on jack stands can take the weight off the tires and suspension.
Seal It From Critters
Mice and other small animals can make a home in your stationary vehicle. Block any small openings where they might enter and set traps if necessary.
3. Keep the Interior Comfy
Don’t forget about the inside of your car.
Clean the Interior
Vacuum the inside to remove crumbs and other bits that could attract pests.
Place a container of desiccant or an open box of baking soda inside to soak up any excess moisture and prevent mildew.
Slightly Open the Windows
If you’re storing your car in a secure location, leave the windows slightly cracked to allow air circulation.
4. Winter Parking Rules and Restrictions
You need to be aware of winter parking rules if you’re not storing your car in a private area. Many localities have specific overnight parking restrictions during the winter months for snow plowing and emergency access. It’s critical to check these rules to avoid fines or towing.
5. The Right Cover Matters
If you’re storing your car outside, use a high-quality, breathable car cover. This will keep it clean and dry. If you’re parking indoors, a cover can protect against dust and accidental scrapes.
6. Regular Check-ins
Even though your car is parked, it still needs some attention.
Start the Engine
If possible, start the car every few weeks to get the fluids moving and keep the battery charged.
Inspect Your Car
Check on your car periodically to ensure no new issues have arisen, like leaks or rodent infestation.
7. Be Informed About Local Restrictions
Each city has its own set of winter parking restrictions. These can range from specific street cleaning times to snow emergency rules that prohibit parking on the road altogether. Stay informed about these restrictions through your city’s website or local news outlets.
8. Waking Up Your Car After Winter
As winter fades and you’re ready to bring your car out of storage, there are a few things you should do:
Reconnect or reinstall your battery.
Check all fluid levels and look out for any leaks.
Make sure the tires are inflated properly.
Look over the car for any signs of damage or wear.
In essence, properly storing your vehicle for winter involves careful preparation and ongoing care. By following these guidelines, you’ll protect your car from the elements, avoid running afoul of winter parking restrictions, and make the transition back to driving in the spring