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To keep your car safe during the winter months, it is essential to store it properly, and there are some precautions to consider too.

Storage is one of the most important parts of any car owner's winter routine. If you want your car to be in perfect condition once the snow starts falling, you should plan ahead and understand the proper preparation techniques.

To store a car for winter, you will need to clean the car, get an oil change, adjust the fuel levels, and disconnect the battery first. If you have a big enough garage, you can store your car there for the winter and not worry about it being exposed to the elements outside. This is the best method.

The best way to store a car for winter is to keep it in the garage, especially if you live in an area where the temperatures are below freezing and the winters are harsh. Do everything you can to leave the car in a temperature controlled environment too. This guide will explain why these tips are important and how to store your car for winter correctly.

With years of experience in the automotive industry, we understand how to maintain vehicles and maximize their lifespan. Keep reading to learn more about car storage for winter.

Table of Contents

How To Store a Car For Winter

Storage for cars in winter is a bit more complicated than with other seasons. One of the most important steps is to ensure that the engine is turned off and remove the gas tank from the car.

The best way to store your car for winter is by using a garage because this will keep it warmer and cleaner through the bad weather.

You can also park it in the driveway with a durable cover. However, this leaves it more exposed to cold weather and winter conditions.

The next step is to remove any items that are not necessary for driving. You can also remove all the things from inside your car’s trunk.

This guide will cover the most critical steps to take when storing a vehicle for the winter. It will also cover what you should do before storing your car and what you should do after it has been stored.

1. Get An Oil Change

We always recommend a fresh oil change before putting a car in storage over the winter. This will ensure everything under the hood is clean and well maintained.

When a car sits for a while, the oil also ages. So if you don’t have new oil in the car, it could potentially create a long-term problem the next time you try to use the car.

2. Use A Fuel Stabilizer

It is best to use a fuel stabilizer with your car if you plan to keep it stored for longer than 30 days. This is because fuel begins to wear down after a month or so.

The fuel stabilizer will increase the longevity of the fuel and give you at least three months of support instead.

3. Adjust The Fuel Levels

Another thing to remember is how much fuel you will leave in the car. If you will store the car for three months or less, we recommend keeping the tank fuel with a fuel stabilizer added.

If it will be in storage for longer, you should empty the tank entirely. Instead, you can apply WD-40 to the gas tank to avoid any rusting.

4. Disconnect The Car Battery

The car battery is another concern when you plan to store a car for winter. When the battery isn't used for this long, it tends to die or deteriorate.

As a way to avoid this happening, it is best to disconnect the battery from the vehicle and store it somewhere that gets no cold temperature exposure.

5. Use A Permeable Car Cover

You should also use a permeable car cover when you put your car in storage for winter. This will keep it clean and protected.

Even if you are keeping the car indoors in a storage unit or garage, you will still avoid dust and dirt from building on the car’s surface.

6. Plug The Tail Pipe

During winter, it is common to see mice enter cars because the temperature is cold and they are looking for a warm place to nest.

One way to combat this issue is by plugging the tailpipe. The best way to do so is with a soft rag or aluminum foil.

7. Wash & Wax The Car Thoroughly

Before storing a car for winter, you should also wash it thoroughly and consider applying a fresh coat of wax.

This will give it a nice shine, clean any dirty areas, and put it in the best shape possible before getting covered and stored away.

8. Park The Car On A Plastic Tarp

To avoid anything dripping from the car onto your garage floor, you can park the car on a durable plastic tarp.

This will keep the area clean so you have no concerns about scrubbing the floors from a pesky oil stain in the future.

Where To Store A Car For Winter

Where to store a car for winter is a common question that we often hear in the fall as the cold weather approaches.

We have listed the three most common options. These are the most accessible choices to every car owner.


The most popular place to store a car during the winter is in your garage. You should make sure that you have enough space and the right kind of coverings to protect it from the elements.

The garage is the preferred method because it will keep your car away from ice and snow. However, not all car owners have a garage big enough.

It also still gets cold during the winter. This can be a risk depending on the way you store the car too.


The riskiest option for storing your car is to leave it in a driveway. It is the most convenient option, but it can put your car at risk against snow, ice, salt, and extremely cold temperatures.

A durable cover is necessary to protect your car from the harsh winter conditions. It should be strong enough to withstand these conditions.

When you store a car outside during the winter, you will need to start it up regularly to keep the engine running. If it sits there for too long exposed to the cold, problems could arise.

Storage Unit

The last option you can consider if you have the budget is a storage unit. This would be the best way to put your car in a temperature controlled space for winter.

You should aim to get a 10’ x 20 storage unit to fit your vehicle with ease. However, the exact size needed could be smaller for compact sedans.

How Often Should You Start A Car In The Winter?

The winter months are a time when many people store their cars in a garage. But if you don't start your car once every 10-14 days, the engine will eventually break down.

This is because the engine's oil and coolant can freeze and cause significant damage to your engine. Regularly starting the vehicle is a preventative measure to keep the parts running smoothly.

The best time to start your car in storage for the winter is when the temperature drops below freezing for consecutive days. This will warm up the engine and avoid problems for the next use.

However, the answer to this also depends on where it is stored. If the temperature is controlled and the car won’t be exposed to any freezing temperatures, starting the car regularly is unnecessary.

But if the car is in your garage and temperatures drop below freezing levels, it is best to start the car every one to two weeks for a few minutes. This will warm up the engine and keep things stable.

Should You Store A Car In Winter With Full Or Empty Gas Tank?

It is best to store your car for winter with a full gas tank so no moisture will build up in the tank leading to rust.

This will allow you to use it when you need it in the spring. In case of any emergency, you can always drive your car and get back on track without worrying about running out of gas or getting stranded.

However, this assumes you are storing the car in a temperature-controlled area. But gas will never freeze, so even if the temperatures get a bit cold, it won’t present any issues.

You can also add a fuel stabilizer to your gas tank. This will help keep things in order while the car is in storage for the winter.

If you are planning to store the car for over three months, you must try a different strategy. Instead, empty the gas tank and use WD-40 inside the gas tank to prevent any rust.

This is the best strategy to avoid any long-term issues with the fuel system and gas tank when storing a car for winter.

How To Store a Car For Winter

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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