Vehicle Winterization and Storage: 6 Tips for Better Protection During the Winter

Vehicle Winterization and Storage: 6 Tips for Better Protection During the Winter

By: Nicholas Sollitto


November 15, 2021

Now might be the perfect time to start preparing for winter vehicle storage. Are the trees outside your window starting to lose their leaves and announce fall’s arrival? Are Thanksgiving wreaths and Christmas ornaments competing for space on department store shelves? Have you begun justifying a nightly glass of spiked eggnog with, “well, ‘tis the season”?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you should get started winterizing your vehicle for storage today! After all, this is your classic Mustang, your jet ski or your prized Harley Davidson we are talking about! You would probably do anything to protect it, right?

But how exactly do you winterize a vehicle for storage? Is the process for storing an automobile the same as storing a boat? How do you prevent mice and other animals from damaging your vehicle?

Well, all of these questions and several others will be answered below. In addition, we will also explore our list of helpful vehicle storage tips, which can be used to store your vehicle at your property or in a self-storage facility, talk a little about preventive vehicle maintenance, and discuss why Store Space is the perfect place to store your vehicle for the winter!

6 Tips For Successful Winter Vehicle Storage:

1. Grace Your Vehicle with a Good Bath

It is always a good idea to wash the exterior of a vehicle before it is stored for an extended period of time. Giving your vehicle a good bath will remove dirt and grime from the vehicle’s paint, glass and other components. Make sure when washing an automobile or another complex vehicle to thoroughly clean the undercarriage and other hard-to-reach places.

While waxing and polishing might not be necessary for placing a bicycle or a food truck in long-term storage, you may want to take those extra steps with a hotrod or motorcycle winter storage. In addition, whether it’s the interior of a car or the storage compartment on your jet ski, it’s important to clean and declutter your vehicle’s interior. This step is especially important for winter car storage, as it will decrease the chance of animal damage.

Boat Winter Storage Tips: Washing your boat with specially designed boat wash can help remove additional grime and salt common on marine vehicles.

2. Repel the Rodents

Rodents, such as mice and squirrels, may be cute, but you don’t want them anywhere near your stored vehicle. Unfortunately, stored vehicles often offer a variety of rodents a warm and cozy home during winter months. Fortunately, there are a few solutions on how to keep mice out of a boat in winter storage and prevent animal damage in general.

  1. Effectively erase food spills with a deep clean
  2. Disperse dryer sheets or heavily scented mothballs throughout your vehicle
  3. Plug air inlets, exhaust pipes, and other holes with steel wool
  4. Place mouse traps outside of your vehicle
  5. Periodically check your vehicle for damage throughout its time in storage

Note: Most self-storage facilities have rodent production in place. However, it is still in your best interest to clean your vehicle deeply, disperse dryer sheets, plug air inlets, and place mouse traps outside your vehicle.

3. Check All Fluids

When working to winterize a car, boat or an RV, it is important to check all of your vehicle’s fluids. Some fluids, like coolant and oil, should in most circumstances be flushed and then topped off. Whereas your vehicle’s gas tank should either be completely emptied and cleaned, or better yet, filled and strengthened with a fuel additive. The best fuel additive for winter vehicle storage is one that is focused on the longevity of your vehicle’s fuel system. STA-BIL and SeaFoam are two fan favorites.

If you live in an area where subzero temperatures are common, then taking care of your boat or RV’s coolant system requires additional precautions. The best course of action here is to fill your vehicle’s coolant system with antifreeze. Make sure this amount of antifreeze is enough to reach all of your vehicle’s coolant channels and hoses to maximize its protection.

4. Remove Spark Plugs and Protect Batteries

motorcycle being prepared for winter vehicle storage
A motorcycle being prepared for winter vehicle storage, courtesy Harley-Davidson, via Unsplash.

Removing spark plugs from the cylinder of your vehicle can protect it during winter storage. After doing so, make sure to plug the holes with a lint-free towel. In addition, you will also need to think about protecting your vehicle’s battery.

If the vehicle you are protecting is a classic car, motorcycle or recreational vehicle, then you can simply remove the battery and store it in a protected place. However, this is not recommended for newer automobiles equipped with engine computers.

In this circumstance, your best option is to hook up your vehicle’s battery to a trickle charger or battery tender. When purchasing the charger, look for one that has an auto shut-off feature. This feature will prevent overcharging and further protect the battery.

Harley Davidson Winter Storage Tips: Mix a small amount of baking soda with water, and use a toothbrush to scrub the paste onto the motorcycle’s battery terminals to clean them.

5. Cover Your Vehicle

Covering your vehicle with a tarp, cloth or plastic sheeting is a good way to prevent dust from entering the vehicle while it is stored. Blanketing a cover over your vehicle also adds an extra layer of protection against rodents and other animals.

Obviously, the size of your cloth or cover will depend upon the size of the vehicle you are storing. However, no matter whether you are storing a boat, a motorcycle or a water scooter, you should make sure the cover you choose fully drapes over the entire vehicle to maximize its protection. If you have a few extra dollars lying around after Christmas shopping, you can even purchase a custom-fitted cover for your vehicle!

Classic Car Winter Storage Tips: Add a car lift to your garage to save space during winter storage.

6. Store Your Vehicle in a Climate-Controlled Storage Unit

Did you know that winter is the best time to rent a storage unit? Drive-up climate-controlled storage units are the preferred winter storage solution for vehicle enthusiasts. These storage units are conveniently located on the first floor of a facility and are kept between 55- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the effects of extreme temperature exposure.

While these units are preferred, they can also be hard to find. Standard drive-up storage units offer a great alternative to their climate-controlled siblings. If your vehicle is larger than 7 feet tall, another setback you may face is the overhead door clearance of an indoor storage unit.

To safely store and protect most larger vehicles, many storage facilities offer gated outdoor storage options as well. These options are great for oversized winter vehicle storage, but extra caution must be taken to properly winterize your vehicle and protect it with a heavy-duty cover!

At Store Space, we have several options to securely store your motorcycles, jet skis and classic cars. We even have larger units fit for winter boat storage and travel trailers. Use our convenient storage finder to find a vehicle storage solution near you!

Typically, 5×10 units are perfect for motorcycle storage, 10×10 units offer enough space for side by sides, and cars, some trucks, boats travel trailers, and other trailered vehicles are well suited in units 10×20 or larger. All other oversized vehicles will most likely need to be stored outside. (All features, storage unit sizes, and amenities are subject to availability and location restrictions.)

A travel trailer awaiting winter vehicle storage
A travel trailer awaiting winter vehicle, courtesy Unsplash.


Q: How much does it cost to store a car for winter?

A: Depending upon the size and type of storage unit used, the monthly cost will vary. The price of a standard 10×20 drive-up storage unit depends upon a variety of factors including availability and time of year. All of our available units and rates can be found via our storage finder tool.

Q: How do you winterize and store a car for the winter?

A: To properly protect your car and store it for the winter, you should follow these steps:

  1. Wash, clean, and dry your car
  2. Plug air inlets and exhaust pipes with steel wool
  3. Add fuel stabilizers, antifreeze, and check all fluids
  4. Place battery on a auto shut-off trickle charger
  5. Cover your vehicle
  6. Place your vehicle in covered storage unit

Q: Is it OK to store a boat outside in winter?

A: It is not recommended to store any vehicle outside during the winter without the protection of a proper car cover. The best course of action is to store your boat in a garage or covered storage unit. If you do decide to store your boat outside you will need to fully winterize the vehicle before temperatures fall below freezing. Failing to fully winterize your boat could lead to extensive damage to the vehicle’s motor and other components.

Q: Do I need to winterize my RV if stored inside?

A: If you live in a region where temperatures may drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is still recommended that you winterize your RV even if you are opting for an indoor solution to RV winter storage.

Q: How do I keep mice out of RV during winter storage?

A: If you are wondering how to keep mice out of RV during winter storage, then you should start by cleaning the interior and exterior of your vehicle. Keep a close eye out for any trash or food waste and make sure to remove it from the interior of the RV. Next, you should plug all air inlets and other holes with lint-free towels. Finally, make sure to cover your RV and store it indoors.

Ready to Put Your Vehicle in Winter Storage?

Are you all ready to put your jet ski or muscle car up for the winter? If so, make sure you rent a storage unit from Store Space to guarantee you access Storage That Cares. Use our storage finder to locate a facility near you!

writer nicholas sollitto and his sweater

Nicholas Sollitto is a contributor to Store Space who also enjoys rooting for the Detroit Red Wings, reading Vonnegut, and hiking.


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