Medium Term Storage

I have a quick question about storing two cars for six months. My job gave me very short notice that I will be moving to Germany for six months, meaning that I have two cars that need to go into storage: a 2001 Honda Accord and a 2011 Subaru Forester. I will be leaving very soon and so selling one or both is not really an option. Neither is leaving them with family, who live 1000+ miles away. I have read most of the threads on this site about long term storage, but had some questions specific to my situation I was hoping to get help with.

For one, I won’t have access to electricity to run a trickle charger or battery tender. Do I need to remove the battery for six months, or will it be ok for that short of a time period?

A good chunk of the storage time will be during a Chicago winter. Anything specific I should do for cold weather in terms of fluids, etc?

Anything else I might be missing?

Thanks for the help.

I don’t really see a problem with storing your vehicles for just 6 months. I used to do this every year when I was stationed in Northern Maine in the Air Force. My wife and I both had “winter cars” that we drove from October to April. We stored our new vehicles during this time and stored the winter cars from April to October. The batteries were never disconnected and we never had a problem with them starting when it came to driving them. We did this for several years in Maine and for a couple of years in Alaska. Just make sure the antifreeze will protect your engines from freezing.

You may have to jump start the 2011 Forester because there are a lot of electronic systems that will need voltage during the storage period. I don’t think the Accord will have any problems since it’s an older vehicle.

I’d grab a couple solar battery tenders… Put fuel stabilizer in the tank and then drive them for 30 min or so…

If they were in a garage I’d also put them on jack stands… That’s just me…seems guys on here don’t like or feel the need to put it up on jack stands…but to me… I have them…and its so easy to put it up…I just do it. Saves my tires, suspension and peace of mind… for another day.


Six months is not a long time, not at all. This summer I restarted a car that had been idle for two years, no prior preparations. I needed a borrowed battery but it started up and drove just fine.

If your antifreeze has not been diluted over the years you need not do anything at all to your cars. Just lock the doors and walk away. You may need a jump start on your return. That’s not a big deal.

Some folks here are big on jack stands, others keen on fuel stabilizers. Neither is necessary, no real advantage. Can’t hurt, use them if convenient.

I would use marine grade stabilizer for ethanol.

For 6 months, the only problems I see might be related to the batteries and the fuel. I’d run as much gas out of the tanks as possible and add a fuel stabilizer in heavy doses. Add some fresh gas upon your return.

The batteries could be kept alive with a battery tender but if the batteries are aged you might just consider leaving them be and replacing them with new ones later on. Personally, I don’t like an aged, iffy battery even if it does hold a charge and will start the engine. At some point a hiccup can run that battery down very quickly.

Non-ethanol gas, stabilizer. I’d prefer to remove the battery and hook to a battery tender. Otherwise I’d charge it up and disconnect it.

Batteries do very well when stored in cold temperatures. But I would disconnect them…Pump the tires up to maximum pressure so they don’t go down too much…Vermin can be a problem with cars stored outside…They like to nest in them, chew on the wires…Moth Balls works as a repellant for some…

Thanks for all of the advice. One follow up question: I have seen differing responses about whether to store the cars with full or empty gas tanks. I plan to use gas stabilizer, but what is the best thing to do in terms of the amount of gas left in the tank?

With metal gas tanks, storing with the tank full reduces condensation and moisture and this means less likely to cause rust to the tank. Plastic gas tanks do not have this issue. So if you have plastic gas tanks in either or both of these cars I’d leave the tank with about 1/4 tank of stabilized fuel. Enough to start and run the car and you can fill it quickly with fresh gas upon return.

I’d store a car(s) with a metal fuel tank with a full tank of stabilized fuel.