Car Storage: All You Need to Know

Why opt for long term car storage?

Long term car storage facilities are often geared toward vehicle owners who find themselves in one of a variety of situations that require a safe, protected space to keep their vehicle for future use. You might be facing one of these common situations that can be stressful for any car owner:

  • Military deployment

  • Studying abroad

  • Traveling for an extended period

  • Temporary relocation

  • Life transitions or family events

  • Inheriting a vehicle without proper storage facilities to keep it

No matter what the reason, many people often feel pressured to sell or give away their car with no way to keep it safe and secure for future use. However, this is where a car storage yard can take a weight off your shoulders. A car storage building can offer a secure and convenient location for you to safely store your vehicle (no matter what the size). This way, you can focus on the more important things on your plate, and return for your car whenever you are ready.

But how do you choose the right car storage yard for your specific needs? This guide will run through the most important considerations for anyone considering long term car storage in the near future.

Long Term versus Short Term Car Storage: Which is Right for You?

While facilities exist for either of these needs, there are a couple of main factors that should drive your decision toward choosing a short term or long term option for your vehicle:

 
  • The length of time you ideally need to store the vehicle before retrieving it

  • Your budget for storage - car storage prices naturally reflect the length of time you need to use the facility, so you may need to opt for a short term facility if you have limited funds

  • Ability to retrieve the vehicle - if your life event will keep you away for an unknown duration, long term storage gives you more flexibility

  • Options offered by your storage facility - many facilities will provide both long term and short term options, and may offer deals or promotions depending on the term of rental

Should I Choose Indoor or Outdoor Car Storage?

While this consideration often goes hand in hand with the duration of time you are storing your car, there are some specific benefits to choosing either outdoor facilities or indoor car storage units. Here are the benefits of each:

Indoor Car Storage Units

PROS

  • Climate controlled to maintain optimal temperature and humidity 

  • Protected from inclement weather

  • Vehicles protected by 24-hour video recording and individual coded gate access

  • Ideal for long term storage, especially for undetermined periods of time

  • Variety of units to fit a variety of vehicle sizes

  • Kept out of the sun to prevent paint fading or peeling

CONS

  • More expensive, due to the additional benefits of these facilities

  • While a variety of car storage unit sizes exist, they may not all be available or convenient at your closest location

  • Drop off and retrieval can be more tedious and time consuming depending on the layout of the facility, or the staffed hours

Outdoor Car Storage Options

PROS

  • More affordable than indoor storage

  • Offered by more facilities, making for more convenience and less travel

  • Secured by modern security systems and hired security staff

  • Ideal for short term storage, where weather and temperature exposure won’t be factors in the long term health of the car

  • For extremely large vehicles, easier to find facilities with adequate space

CONS

  • Vehicle is exposed to local weather conditions, sunlight, and weather extremes

  • While security is key to any storage facility, outdoor storage offers easier access than indoor options

  • Problematic for long term storage, where rust and weather-related wear may cause serious damage to the exterior or engine, even if protected

Once you decide which option is right for you, contact your facility to learn more about the steps required to secure a space and prepare your car for its stay. See the section below on preparing your car for storage for more details on this process.

Preparing Your Car for Storage

Now that you have found the right facility for your vehicle, there are some common steps to follow (including some that are often required by the car storage yard or building itself) to guarantee your vehicle remains in good and working condition, no matter how long the duration of your rental. While you should check with your chosen facility for specific requirements, or specific recommendations they have, here are some of the common steps anyone should follow while preparing their car for short or long term storage:

  • Retrieve all personal items and documents from the interior - while your car will be secure, people often forget the various documents or items that they’ve kept in their vehicle, especially if you’ve owned it for a number of years.

  • Make sure you have your vehicle registration and/or the title - most facilities require this for insurance and intake purposes

  • Get your vehicle repaired or tuned up before the stay - this is particularly true for any engine issues. Leaving the car stationary, especially for a long time period, can exacerbate certain engine issues.

  • Clean your interior and exterior - rust and mold can fester over a long stay, even in the cleanest facility. You don’t want any unwelcome surprises upon retrieval.

  • For outdoor car storage, considering purchasing an all-weather car cover to protect the vehicle exterior from inclement weather and sun exposure.

  • Fill the gas tank, change the oil, and check for any leaks from brake or windshield wiper fluid - over an extended stay, leaks can both damage the car and leave your car inoperable upon retrieval

  • Consider using conditioner on leather or vinyl seats to keep them from cracking or drying

  • Disengage the parking brake to avoid brake corrosion from occurring

Again, be sure to check in with your chosen facility to see if they have additional recommendations or requirements in addition to the steps on this list. Also remember that while some of these steps may cost money or valuable time, taking the effort to properly prepare your vehicle in advance can save you tons of time, money, and aggravation down the road.