Best way to store a car for five years?




I’m moving out of the country for five years and I don’t want to sell my first new car, my 2004 Acural TL. Any advice on the best way to store it to prevent any damage? Here’s what I was thinking:

* Put the car up on two jacks so the tires won’t rot.

* Drain the gas as much as possible and replace with a gas stabilizer.

* Disconnect the battery.

* Top up all the fluids.

Do you guys think that will do the trick? Am I doomed to problems no matter what?

Thanks for any advice or insight…


Uh. “Acura”…


First tell us where the car will be. That is what part of the country (hot dry - cold damp). Present condition (rust?) In a garage?

* Put the car up on two jacks so the tires won’t rot.

The jacks will make it a little harder to steal and prevent flat spots but it is ozone and heat that will “rot” tyres.

* Drain the gas as much as possible and replace with a gas stabilizer.

No! For five years, I would want to drain all the gas out I could. While I might add stabilizer and run it a while before draining it, I certainly don’t recommend trying to replace it was stabilizer.

Gas goes bad via two paths.

  1. It can evaporate and the different components do not evaporate at the same rate so you end up with all the heavy molecules, a sticky mess like tar. However that will not happen in a sealed environment. Stabilizer will not even slow that down and it itself will suffer the same fate.

  2. The gasoline will also polymerize. That means the smaller lighter components will combine to form larger heavier hydrocarbons like tar. This process normally happens very slowly but it will speed up (like a chain reaction) once it starts. The Stabilizers prevent or stop the speed up.

    In a year, storing the tank full with stabilized gasoline is the best bet, but for five years, you would be better off trying to drain as much as you can.

  • Disconnect the battery.

    I would carry that one step further. Remove the battery. No battery makes stealing it a lot harder. Thieves seldom carry an assortment of batteries with them.

  • Top up all the fluids.

    I would suggest changing the brake fluid and maybe the oil. If the coolant is old, it should also be replaced to make sure the anti-corrosion materials are all still there and working.

    Don’t forget to cancel you collusion insurance, but you should keep up the comprehensive coverage. Keep it in a safe spot away from animals.


Fortunately, I’m keeping my house and am having a good friend I can trust rent it as a caretaker. So, I’ll be able to keep the car in my locked garage. (I thought about having her drive it around the block every two weeks, but…five years seems like a lot to ask.)

I’m in Austin, Texas where it gets up into the low 100s and can be humid.

Thanks for the info about gasoline. I knew I wanted the gas out, but figured the stabilizer would be a good replacement.

Yeah, and I was going to get the oil changed. Good ideas about the brake fluid and the coolant (and the insurance).

I’ll go ahead and completely take out the battery. I figure it probably will be dead in five years, even disconnected. Again, I’m not worried about theft though.

So, do you think there’s a likelihood of any permanent damage if I follow the plan?


Have you checked to see what the cost would be to take it with you overseas? If it is possible to take it where you are going.

Do you have a trusted family member or friend that you would trust to keep the car and start and drive periodically?

If not I would store it inside somewheres and in a climate controled area if possible. I still think you might have issues with engine seals and transmission seals and other problems with other seals through out the car if car is not started and driven.

Maybe someone else on this forum has had to store a car for such a long period of time and can either confirm or enlighten us as to what I said above is correct.


Just posted after you posted your last response. I would just have your friend start and drive it at least once a month.


I would get some oil into the cylinders to protect them from rust. The marine guys use “fogging oil” when they store boat engines. You can get it at a boat store or motorcycle shop. Spray some into the intake manifold with the engine running to coat the intake valves. Then pull the plugs and spray into each cylinder. Turn the engine over one or two revolutions with the starter.


This car, although it may be a nice car, is not likely a classic or collector’s car. Sell the car and buy new when you return from your trip. The depreciation in five years will cost you plenty unless you drive the car into the ground when you return.

Sell it; there are plenty of other fish in the sea! Get it gone, why worry about a simple thing such as a car for five years?


It’s hard to say on something like this. Ideally, it would be a good idea to have your friend drive the car at least once a month. This keeps the oil circulated, seals wet with oil/fluids, etc. and aids the battery, at least a little.

Storing it inside a garage can be a plus.

If the car is not going to be driven in those five years and you want to keep it, I would say put it up on blocks, run the gas way low and add stabilizer, and just give the battery away. After a year or so it will be a boat anchor anyway.

Sprinkle some talcum powder, very liberally, over the tires and this will help prevent dry rot and fend off rubber fleas. :slight_smile: Yes, it’s messy, but…

A box of mothballs inside and a car cover and it may come out fine.


Having your friend drive your car requires quite a few things. Namely full coverage car insurance. Registration fees and maintenance fees for oil changes and other fluid changes like brakes and coolant. Remember just because your not driving the vehicle much the fluid properties do change due to the exposure to the air.

I would sell it and not worry about it.


I agree, sell it. Though a very nice car it is not worth the aggravation.


I agree with ‘Wha Who’s’ comment to sell it.

Unless you’re personally attached to this car in some non-monetary way, you should make sure you understand the cost-benefit analysis of storing it vs selling it.


You don’t want to sell it, but you should. Yes, you can store it for 5 years, and you’ve gotten pretty good advice on that already, but you really should just suck it up and sell it. Put the cash in a nice 5 year CD, or if you feel lucky in an aggressive mutual fund, then in 5 years buy a new(er) car. You car is just going to lose value for 5 years without providing you with any return (like transportation or the pleasure of driving it).


One more thing. Keep a record of the person you sell the car to, and if you feel strongly about it in 5 years you can look them up and maybe buy it back. No guarantees, and I would not make it a condition of sale or anything. In fact, I would not even mention it to the buyer.