CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Garaging a car for 7 months

I’m a snowbird and will be leaving my 2005 Neon, Natasha, in AZ for 7 months this summer so that I won’t have to drive back and forth yearly. What do I need to do to my car so it will survive the summer and be usable when I return in Nov.? Gas tank full or empty? Battery connected or connected to something else, or disconnected? Have a friend come start it occasionally?

Just disconnect the negative terminal. I would add Marine grade stabilizer for ethanol to a full tank and run it till it was near empty but not completely then ad more stabilizer. An alternative is to take the battery inside in a cool basement which is ideal. Winter storage is easier on gas then summer. Add as much fresh gas as possible before you start it when you return.

This is a tough one. Car’s don’t do well when left unused for months at a time. If there’s someone reliable who is willing to help, asking them start it up once or twice a week and just let it idle until it reaches operating temp might be the best solution.

7 months is no big deal. If you can have friend start it once a month that would be fine. If not put a good battery tender on it. The gas will be fine as is. The tank is sealed on newer cars so its not a problem for 7 months. Will it be in a garage? Under a Car port? If not in a garage I would put a good cover on it. Oh change the oil be for you park it and when you get back. This all my friend does and he has been doing for years in AZ with no problems.

If you have a outlet nearby I’d get a battery tender. I’d also put a double dose of Stabil in a nearly empty tank and fill it up. Then drive for several miles to mix it up and get it through the injectors.

I’d use a battery tender (which is inexpensive at Sears) and fuel stabilizer, as others have mentioned. Also put a number of mousetraps around the garage, as you don’t want them snacking on your wires or building nests under your hood.

Just starting it and letting it idle for a bit isn’t a good idea. If you start it, you want it to get fully warmed up, which means driving it around for a bit. However, that means you need to keep your collision insurance in place instead of suspending it.

I’d be more worried about snakes, bees/wasps, and scorpions in AZ than I would mice or rats.

I’d just put some StaBil in the tank and remove the battery and store it somewhere cool and dry.

come on guys, that’s arizona what about the air filter?

bscar2 wrote:
I’d be more worried about snakes, bees/wasps, and scorpions in AZ than I would mice or rats.

You might want to look up a little thing called “hantavirus”.

Are you storing it inside in the garage, or outside? Will it be stored on grass, cement, or gravel? In a residential neighborhood, or in a rural area like a farm? Where you store it makes a difference. Outside means “pests” spiders, rodents (mice and squirrels), snakes, etc. can find your car an attractive place to nest. You can cover the car, but if it is a windy area a cover will blow in the wind and some can scratch the paint. You can plug the exhaust pipe and put sticky traps under and around the car. Bait traps are not a good idea because they “attract” the mice to the bait. If you have a pest control contract consult the company for recommendations. Mice and squirrels chew up wiring, carpeting, sound deadening materials, and even leather and foam in the seats. The damage can run into big money.

For 7 months you really don’t need to do much else. I would use a fuel stabilizer and fill the fuel tank to reduce condensation of water. I would put a battery tender on the battery, but not disconnect the battery. If the car is in a garage, or well protected from wind I’d put a cover on it. An oil change a few days before you store it means fresh oil with no contaminants (such as water) in it is a good idea. Disconnecting the battery isn’t necessary, but if you live in a high crime area I’d disconnect the battery and remove it from the car. I don’t recommend having anyone start the car over the storage period. It will take power from the battery to start the car. The car will just idle for a few minutes which won’t recharge the battery that much, and idling will cause condensation in the crankcase and exhaust system, and water leads to rust. If stored properly it is better to just let it sit for the duration.

If you have no pest issues when you return the car should start right up. You might want to have a small air compressor just in case a tire(s) goes flat or soft on you during storage. If you don’t put a battery tender on the battery you will most likely need a jump starter box to fire up the car after 7 months. Or, you could hook up a regular charger to the battery for a few hours and the car should fire up fine once the battery is charged up.

Thanks for all of the ideas–it will be in a garage and we can leave the electricity on in there, so I think I’ll try the battery tender. I hadn’t even considered pests. I really appreciate the comments.

Is leaving a car unattended for 7 months, in a closed garage with a battery tender connected safe?

"I hadn’t even considered pests."
You may find that pests are the biggest concern in some areas. If the area is enclosed and locked, You have more options.

@galant - I would do it, very little charging (hydrogen generation) going on, so unless the garage is hermetically sealed any H2 would have plenty of time to dissipate.