Car Storage

I am a retired Presbyterian minister who has accepted an invitation to serve a church in Wellington, NZ. I live in Silverthorne, CO at an elevation of 9,500 ft. I have a 2004 Subaru Forrester with 100,000 miles. My question is what do I need to do to store my car for a year? I have ordered a cover, but do I need to drain or change the oil? What pressure should I have on the tires? Do I need to disconnect the battery? Do I need an additive for the gasoline line or do I need to drain it? Thank you for your assistance.

Will the car be stored indoors or out? Indoor storage is much better.

I suggest changing the oil and the coolant before storage.

Get some fuel stabilizer from a parts store and add the correct amount to the tank, based on its capacity, then fill the tank with fresh gasoline. Drive the car for a few minutes to make sure the stabilizer is circulated throughout the fuel system, then park the car where it will be stored. The additive will prevent the gas from going bad.

I suggest inflating the tires a bit above their normal pressure. You can go up to the MAX pressure on the sidewall, but don’t go any higher.

Remove the battery from the vehicle. Make sure you have the security code for the radio (if there is one) before disconnecting the battery.

DO NOT apply the parking brake. Block the wheels if necessary, but leave the parking brake off.

A cover is a personal choice, but not necessary. A cover can trap moisture underneath, and may do more harm than good, especially if the car is outdoors. A high-quality, breathable car cover should be OK.

When you return home post again and we’ll tell you how to safely put the car back on the road.

There are dozens of threads on this board dealing with car storage. Try the search feature of this board and you will get all the info you need…

First, add a fuel stabilizer to the gas tank and then fill the gas tank.

If the vehicle is going to be stored outside on bare ground, place a vapor barrier on the ground and then park the vehicle on top of the vapor barrier.

If the oil has a lot of miles on it, change the oil and filter.

Remove the battery from the vehicle and store it in a cool dry area. And if possible, connect a battery maintainer to the battery. If this isn’t possible, then expect to replace the battery when you return.

Place dryer sheets throughout the vehicles interior. These tend to keep critters out of the interior.

Stuff stainless steel pot scrubbers in both the tailpipe and in the intake box before the air filter. This will prevent critters from building nests in these areas. Place a note on the steering wheel to remind you to remove these when you return.


If you follow the storage advice you should be OK. But sometimes parts seize up when not used; water pump, alternator, etc. Rubber parts on the car will deteriorate some just due to time. Mice and squirrels have been known to nest and eat seat cushions, insulation, and wires.

An option might be to sell the car, and buy a CD or invest the money. In a year you’ll have more money and you can either buy another '04 Forrester, or anything else you choose.

For me, a year is too short of a time to deal with selling one car and buying another one. I expect that in Silverthorne, if you have no car, you go nowhere so it would be a big pressure to buy one. That would be adding to a long list of other things that need to be attended to right after after returning.