Preparing a vehicle for winter storage doesn’t have to be a daunting or confusing task. Instead, think of it as a giving your vehicle a good detail and servicing right before putting it away.
Preparing a Vehicle for Winter
Winter is coming!
We’ve all heard that line before. But, there are times where we want to tuck our vehicle in for a spell . . . keeping it stored away from the elements.
There can be multiple reasons for packing up your vehicle for storage:
- It isn’t meant to be driven in inclement weather (i.e. motorcycle in snow)
- Extended trips (months abroad . . . yes, please)
- You just want it put up till it’s warm and sunny out (nothing wrong with that)
Now that we know your ride won’t be in use for the near future, let’s dive in to some of the proper steps to take before locking that vehicle away.
Why do you want your vehicle cleaned and serviced before putting it away? We’re glad you asked.
Having a clean vehicle (inside and out) will keep it looking newer longer. This helps to prevent corrosion and fading from environmental contaminants (one of the reasons you’re tucking that thing away in the first place) and ensuring everything will be tip-top and ready when you bring it out of storage . . . because you know you won’t be patient enough when rolling up that garage door in the spring.
To make things easier, we’re going to be breaking up your vehicle storage prep into three steps:
Exterior Vehicle Prep for Storage
There really isn’t anything special (i.e. out of the norm) that you should be doing before your vehicle goes into storage. Instead, you’ll want to give it a quality wash and detail as you normally would.
Wash that Ride
We’re going to recommend the two-bucket method to wash that vehicle. This will ensure that any contaminants are removed before moving on to the next step. Select a quality car shampoo, and get to work.
It’s in the Details
Now that things on the outside are all clean, it’s time to take care of any paint errors that may need your attention.
Clay: If your paint has any contaminants, this is the perfect time to break out the clay bar. Toss a plastic baggie on your hand and run it over the finish, if it catches or feels gritty than a good claying is in order.
Compound & Polish: Once you’ve addressed any paint contaminants with your clay bar, then it is on to correcting any paint flaws. For any of the heavy stuff, we recommend using XP Compound, follow that up with some Car Glaze, or polish it out with BC-2, and you’ll have a smooth-as-silk finish.
Once all paint contaminants are removed and any flaws are corrected, then you are on to the good stuff.
Sealant: We’re going to suggest putting on the final touches with a polymer-based sealant called Awesome Gloss. Sure, you can go with a wax, but Awesome Gloss is formulated to provide a protective coating for over 1 year, this ensures that that finish will still be perfectly covered once you remove that vehicle from storage.
Boom! The outside of your vehicle has now been cleaned, polished, shined, and treated. You can rest assured that the minimal dust accumulation during storage will not hinder all your hard work. Likely, you’ll be rolling out a fresh-looking ride once that sun makes its appearance in the spring.
Interior Vehicle Prep for Storage
Just like you did on the outside, you’re going to want to get everything cleaned out and spiffed up in the inside of your vehicle.
- Throw out any trash that (ahem) may have found itself on the floorboards, seats, glovebox, etc.
Get out the vacuum and really get the dirt/grit sucked up.
- Remember, use mechanical means before chemical means.
- If spots are visible after vacuuming, hit them with a spot remover and brush
- Clean any fabric/upholstery that looks dingy. Use an extractor machine or spray bottle and upholstery brush.
- Using an all-purpose cleaner, spiffy up all the plastics and trim (door panels, dashboard, etc.)
- Treat everything with a non-greasy, protective coating.
Double boom! That interior is now ready for the abuse to come when you pull that sucker out of storage. Bonus, you won’t open the vehicle up to find moldy fries in a couple months.
Drivetrain Prep for Storage
I know, I know, we’re just a company that sells detail products. But . . . we’d like to toss in a few more tips to help ensure your ride will be safe and sound during its storage slumber.
Prior to storing a vehicle for any period of time, it is recommended that you (or your mechanic) give its bits and pieces a good servicing. This doesn’t have to be a monumental task, but just something that gets done on a regular basis . . . this time you’re doing it before storage.
Check all fluids, and change any that are required. This is where you give that vehicle a good oil change, and toss in any additives that might be necessary.
- Here’s a good post on treating your gasoline or diesel for long-term storage.
- Give it one good and final drive to circulate any new fluids and additives.
- Grease the necessary suspension components.
- Top off the tires to their recommended max PSI.
- Put the vehicle on jack stands or blocks if it will be sitting for and extended amount of time. This will help to preserve the shocks.
- Disconnect the battery, or connect it to a charger set to trickle.
- To cover, or not? That really is a loaded question. We recommend, if storing in a garage/space that is regularly used, to go ahead with a cover for the protection of impact with foreign objects.
Whamo! Not only will your vehicle look good when it comes out of storage, but it will be purring nicely and be ready to hit the road when its sentence of solitude is up.
As promised, nothing above should be out of the ordinary for anyone who takes pride in their vehicles. The purpose of doing these steps together is to ensure your vehicle is protected outside and in.
No one wants to face issues when removing their vehicle from storage, and the little bit of work up front can mitigate many of those issues.
So, get out there and start prepping your vehicle for storage. Winter is coming!