Long term storage

Need to store my car for 3 years.

How should I prepare for storage, besides the obvious? Car will be serviced, detailed inside and out, placed on jack stands to take most pressure off the tires, and battery removed.

Location: attached garage of condo in southern California. Inside is dry, with temperature range 55 to 80F. The garage door will be closed the entire time. Rodents are highly unlikely.

Major questions are:

* Should tire pressure be lowered?

* Should gasoline tank be empty or full?

* Fuel stabilizer use - before and after?

* Oil mist sprayed in each cylinder, or sprayed in intake? Both?

* Convert to synthetic oil?

This discussion should apply to most cars, but mine is a manual 2007 Matrix XR with 25,000 miles.

Your input is greatly appreciated.


Tire pressure won’t matter. They will be flat when you get back and since the car is on jack stands, it will matter even less. The fuel tank should have stabilizer before it is stored, and according to the labeling, you might want to double the dose for longer storage periods like three years. I would fill the tank half way and add the appropriate amount of fuel stabilizer. Then I would run the car to get the stabilizer throughout the fuel system. Then right before starting the car, I would add half a tank of new gasoline. I would stick with regular oil, changing it once before storage, and again before you drive it. I would not bother spraying oil in the cylinders.

If you really must store the car for three years, the tires should be inflated to max pressure listed on the sidewall, although in three years they won’t have much air anyway.

Add fuel stabilizer before storage, fill the tank, drive home and park the car in the garage. Air in the tank is the enemy of gas. You want it full (normal full, not over-full). Even stabilized gas may not last three years.

I would spray some oil in each cylinder and then rotate the engine a few times (without the spark plugs) to spread the oil on the cylinder walls.

Synthetic oil won’t make any difference.

To be honest, rather than store this car for three years, I’d sell it, put the money in the bank, and buy something else three years from now.

Remember, the car will continue to depreciate even if you’re not driving it.

And don’t be sure about rodents, either. They’re very good at finding cars that don’t move, and making nests in them.

Sell this car. It’s the best thing to do honestly because it’s an 2007. Every year of the next 3 the value is going to plunge just sitting and you’ll never get that money back. Sell the car now and pocket the money and go get the same car in three years. Besides you’re going to have to contend with some issues if it sits for three years- well prepped or not.

Is selling this and buying another one after 3 years is an option? If so, I would seriously conside that option. As Dave G. says, after 3 years, this might not have much value remaining with it. Also, muffler and exhaust related parts might get rusty after 3 years unattended. Somebody I know sold a car just because he wasn’t driving it much and he was fed up with replacing rusty parts whenever he took it out after long-term storage.

Thank you all for your thoughts on this subject. The car is now moth-balled in my garage. I plan on writing an update with the experience upon return in December, 2011.

Last 2 fill ups were premium gasoline. Fuel Tank is now 1/4 full with entire bottle of stabilizer added minutes before killing engine and removing battery. Fully detailed in and out. Did not spray cylinders with oil, as this would have exposed system to the water vapor in the air. As one friend pointed out, Many high-end cars were made in Japan, shipped to the USA, and may not have been started for several months. All visible (door) seals were cleaned and waxed. Wiper blades lifted from glass. Steel wool in exhaust pipe, car covered.

Upon return, I will inflate tires, purchase two+ gallons of premium gasoline and new battery, lube and oil change, remove packaging. And hope for the best.

Why store this car? I’m the type of person that buys a car new, then keeps it for 250,000+ miles. I don’t want to part with this gem, 'cause nothing out on the horizon interests me. I’ve averaged 39.9 mpg for the last 6 months (~10,000 miles), and the interior is roomy enough to haul everything I need while camping. No 2009 model year vehicle does all this, and has a sun/moon roof. Financially this may not be a sound decision, but I have to look at the whole picture.

Again, thanks for all your suggestions, and I’ll let you know how everything turns out.


Last 2 fill ups were premium gasoline. Fuel Tank is now 1/4 full

It would have been better to have the tank totally full. Full allows less condensation to take place.

Premium was a waste of money unless you car normally calls for premium. It does not say good longer nor does it have any useful effect on a car, unless the engine was designed to use it and calls for it. Premium does not mean better, only different.