How to Store a Car in a Storage Unit: Complete Guide

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So, you’re considering placing your cherished car into storage?

Whether it’s that vintage beauty you’ve labored over for years or a family car taking a brief hiatus, ensuring its safety and upkeep is critical.

You may wondering if you can store a car in a storage unit or if you need special vehicle storage. Putting a car in storage can seem confusing, so I’ve created this guide. We’ll cover practical tips and insights to help ensure that your vehicle remains in great condition and ready for the road ahead.

Buckle up and let’s get started!


How to Choose the Right Storage Unit for Your Car

Selecting the right storage unit for your car involves considering several crucial factors. 

Let’s examine this process step by step.

Location is the biggest factor. Choose a facility close to your home or workplace to minimize travel distance, reducing wear and tear on your vehicle. Plus, having your car close by offers a sense of security. 

Accessibility is also important. Choose a vehicle storage unit with straightforward access routes and flexible operating hours to eliminate the stress of time constraints.

While cost is a significant factor, remember that the least expensive option may not always be the best. Aim for a balance between cost, features, and security.

Indoor storage protects your car from weather conditions, making it ideal for classic cars or long-term storage. Conversely, outdoor storage may be more affordable but exposes your car to the elements.

Climate-controlled units, which maintain consistent temperature and humidity levels, offer an added layer of protection against rust, mold, and corrosion. This often comes with a higher price tag. 

Non-climate-controlled units, while more economical, don’t offer temperature stability.

Drive-up accessibility offers the ultimate convenience, allowing you to drive directly to your unit. However, this may leave your car more vulnerable to external elements. 

Facility permissions offer 24/7 access to your car, but be mindful of potential additional fees or gate restrictions.

Other features to consider include: 

  • 24-hour surveillance
  • Security personnel
  • Reliable alarm systems
  • Good lighting
  • Ventilation

No matter whether you choose a climate-controlled facility or prioritize drive-up accessibility, the key is to find a storage unit that fits the needs you have for your car. 

The goal is to provide your vehicle with a secure and comfortable space while it’s off the road. 


Choosing the Right Size Storage Unit for Your Car

Selecting the ideal vehicle storage unit size is like picking the right parking spot. It’s all about ensuring your car fits comfortably and safely. Too small, and you might find yourself playing an unintended game of Tetris with your vehicle. Too large, and you’re practically throwing money out of the window. So, how do you strike the right balance?

To give you a clearer picture, here are common storage unit sizes and the types of vehicles they can comfortably house:

10 x 15 storage space is good for compact cars, such as:

  • VW Golf
  • Mini Cooper
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Most 2 door sports cars

10 x 20 storage space is ideal for storing several commonly used vehicles, such as:

  • Toyota Tundra
  • Honda Civic
  • Ford Explorer
  • Nissan Altima
  • Kia Soul
  • Subaru Outback
  • Most other sedans and mid-sized hatchbacks

10 x 25 storage space is good for most bigger vehicles, such as:

  • Larger crew cab trucks
  • Large passenger and cargo vans
  • Suburban, Expedition, Escalade, and Denali SUVs

Preparing Your Car for Storage

A little time spent on preparation can prevent damage, fend off deterioration, and deter those pesky thieves.

The Pre-Storage Checklist:

  • Clean Your Car: Before parking it for an extended period, give your car a good wash, inside and out. Dirt and grime can cause corrosion. You wouldn’t want to return to a moldy interior.
  • Change The Oil: An oil and filter change can go a long way in preventing engine damage. Old oil can contain impurities that might harm the engine over time.
  • Fuel Up: A full tank prevents moisture from accumulating, which can lead to internal rust. Consider adding a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas fresh and protect the engine.
  • Check the Tires: Inflate those tires to avoid flat spots and disconnect the battery to prevent drainage. If you’re overly cautious, consider a trickle charger to keep the battery in top form.
  • Use a Car Cover: A breathable car cover protects against dust and unwanted critters while allowing moisture to escape.

The care you give your car depends on how long you’ll have your car in storage. 

Short-term storage might only need the basics. Go the extra mile (pun intended) for longer stints ensures your vehicle stays in great running condition. 

Additional steps for extended storage:

  • Lube Up: Lubricating hinges, locks, and seals ensures they don’t dry out or get stuck.
  • Check the Fluids: Make sure to top off other essential fluids and look out for potential leaks.
  • Deter Bugs & Pests: Placing mothballs or dryer sheets in the interior and engine compartments can keep rodents at bay.
  • Engine Care: If storing for several months, consider removing the spark plugs and spraying fogging oil into the cylinders. It helps in protecting the internal engine parts from corrosion.

Prevent Tires From Flat Spotting

Flat spotting is when a portion of the tire flattens due to prolonged pressure. This affects your tires and can give you a bumpy ride once you’re back on the road.

To prevent flat-spotting when storing your car:

  • Check the Pressure: Ensure your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure or slightly higher. this will help it retain its natural shape. 
  • Move It or Lose It: If possible, move your car slightly every few weeks. Changing the tire’s position can prevent flat spots from becoming permanent.
  • Use Car Jacks: If you’re storing for a prolonged period, consider placing the car on jack stands or tire cradles. It takes the weight off the tires and ensures they remain round and ready.

Remember, proper preparation can mean the difference between a happy reunion and an unwanted repair bill.


How Safe is It To Store a Car in a Storage Unit?

Leaving your vehicle unattended for an extended period can understandably cause some anxiety. After all, vehicles are not just emotionally valuable, but also substantial financial investments. 

The outside world is filled with potential hazards, from theft and vandalism to unpredictable weather conditions and accidental fires. 

This is where storage units prove their worth. 

The right vehicle storage unit will have a strong focus on security and features such as advanced locks, efficient alarm systems, and round-the-clock surveillance cameras. 

Physical barriers like high fences and security patrols in some facilities add another layer of protection. 

Simply put, a reputable storage facility offers your vehicle a safe haven from external threats, giving you peace of mind.


Can You Work on Your Car in a Storage Unit?

For car enthusiasts, the prospect of working on their vehicle in a spacious, private storage unit can be appealing. 

However, there are practical considerations to bear in mind. 

Despite appearing spacious, storage units may not have enough room for extensive car work. Ventilation can also be a concern, especially when using strong chemicals or spray paint. 

Most storage units lack power outlets which can limit the use of electric tools, and restricted access hours may disrupt your work schedule.

Storage facility policies on repairing your vehicle may vary widely. 

Some may permit light work like changing tires or topping up fluids, while others may prohibit any form of car work, particularly if it involves hazardous chemicals or creates noise. 

Local regulations may also impose restrictions on activities within storage units.

Before starting any repair project, it’s best to consult with the storage facility management. 

No one wants to run into unforeseen obstacles mid-project.


How to Get the Best Price on a Car Storage Unit

Now that you know what size storage unit to rent, what about the price tag? 

Here are some nuggets of wisdom to ensure you snag the best deal in town:

  1. Online Price Comparisons: Just as you shop for car insurance, do the same for storage units. Numerous websites offer price comparisons. A little research can lead to significant savings.
  2. Ask for Referrals: Word of mouth still holds weight. Ask friends, family, or coworkers about their experiences. They might even have a discount referral code up their sleeves.
  3. Special Offers: Many facilities offer promotional rates for new customers. Look for first-month discounts, free moving truck usage, or even a few months at a reduced rate. It’s all about timing and grabbing the offer when it’s hot.

By ensuring you choose the right-sized unit and staying savvy with your deal-hunting, you’re not just finding a place for your car to stay – you’re securing its very own luxury suite without breaking the bank. 

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Wrapping It Up

Storing your car, especially for long periods, requires careful consideration and planning. It involves selecting the right storage unit size, preparing your car for storage, and understanding the facility’s rules. 

While storage units provide substantial protection, the condition of your vehicle also depends on the preparations you make before putting your car in storage and your knowledge of the facility’s policies.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.