If you're anything like me, you might have the problem of acquiring cars while never really letting any go. It's nearly impossible to drive them all, all of the time, so inevitably, a couple of them might end up sitting for long periods of time. The five tips below are some of the easiest things that you can do to protect your car while it's longingly waiting to come out of storage. The added benefit of these is that when we're ready to get back to driving, our car will be ready, too.
Dead batteries. We've all had it happen, and it never ceases to be incredibly annoying—but it's more than just annoyance. Draining your battery below a certain threshold and leaving it there is detrimental to its overall lifespan. If left drained long enough, irreparable damage inside will cause the battery not to take the same charge it once could. Luckily, there are more than a few fantastic products designed to keep your battery from discharging too far.
We carry two brands of battery maintainers—CTEK and NOCO—and both offer solid products with good performance and reliable service. On the simpler side is something like the CTEK MXS 5.0 battery maintainer. It's a fully automatic, microprocessor-controlled charger with a built-in automatic temperature sensor that features a unique combination of advanced charging modes. Using the MXS is as simple as connecting the two leads to your positive and negative terminal and plugging it into your wall outlet. Plus, with a weatherproof case and heavy-duty leads, it's fit for service in many environments.
NOCO offers several similar battery maintainers with varying amp outputs if you'd prefer their product. However, buying individual maintainers can get expensive if you have more than one vehicle. If that's the case in your situation, then look no further than their Genius series. Available with two or three battery banks, they're the same fully automatic charger/maintainer with an integrated thermal sensor to prevent overcharging as the smaller ones, but they feature multiple banks to support several batteries. The charger is IP68 waterproof certification, meaning it can survive while fully submerged; however, we'd recommend hanging it on the wall away from any liquids.
- NOCO GENX2 (2-Bank, 5A)
- NOCO GENPROX2 (2-Bank, 10A)
- NOCO GENX3 (3-Bank, 5A)
- NOCO GENPROX3 (3-Bank, 10A)
And while you're making sure your battery stays charged, you might as well maintain the terminals while you're at it. Over time, the terminals of your battery will develop corrosion that can lead to low-voltage being delivered to the rest of your car. CRC makes products to both clean the terminals of this corrosion and protect them for years to come.
As gasoline sits for extended periods of time, it experiences what's known as "loss of volatility." Essentially, this means that over time, the volatile compounds of gasoline evaporate, reducing its overall effectiveness. One of the easiest ways to prevent this is to top your car up with fresh gas before storing it. With more fuel in the tank, there's less air volume in the tank and less space for these volatile compounds to evaporate.
When it's time to run your car once again, it's recommended to run a can of LIQUI MOLY's Fuel System cleaner through it. Drive your car for a couple of days, add the Fuel System Cleaner to your tank, and then top up your gas once again. This will help ensure that it mixes with your old gas as specified in the directions.
I don't know about you, but one of the saddest sights is seeing a car sit there dirty. I know this all too well; mine is covered in a layer of dust and dirt that's quite literally piling up right now. But keeping your car clean isn't just for show—it actually protects your paint. Keeping it clean and waxed (or even better, ceramic coated) prevents harmful contamination from accumulating on your paint. Depending on where it's stored, bird droppings or tree sap can become a factor, too.
Griot's Garage products are a staple of our catalog, along with the Sonax products that we've loved for years. We now also offer products from relative newcomer Gyeon Design. Their large spread of products is DIY consumer-focused, with individual products and kits readily available. Their quality is top-notch, and many of their products have become regulars in our own garages. Thankfully, you can't go wrong with products from any of them, and right now is the perfect time to try something new. Some of our favorites are:
- Griot's Garage Speed Shine Detail Spray
- Sonax Wheel Cleaner Plus
- Gyeon Q² One EVO Ceramic Coating Kit
- Gyeon Q²M Leather Cleaner and Coating Kit
Take a lesson from me, don't leave your car uncovered for an extended period to build up dust and dirt. The purchase of a properly fitting car cover is one of the best investments you can make to prevent your car from avoidable damage. Our indoor car covers are meant to protect your car from dust and dirt as well as light rubs from people potentially walking by constantly. Our outdoor covers help prevent harmful UV rays from slowly damaging your paint. No matter your use, we have both indoor and outdoor ones for you.
The last tip, and probably the best one here, is to simply drive your car. There are countless benefits to regularly driving your car—fluids stay flowing and fresh, your tires don't flat spot from sitting in the same position, and your battery stays topped up without the need for a maintainer. The list can go on and on. So instead of just looking at your car, go for a drive, enjoy it, and now more than ever, be safe doing so.
Writer/Editor at FCP Euro and owner of a daily R53 MINI Cooper, a track-built R53 MINI, and a 1997 Dakar Yellow E36 M3 Sedan. ••• Instagram: @evan.madore