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Car Storage

Whether you drive a late-model luxury vehicle or an old reliable workhorse, you need to maintain it and protect it — and that’s never more true than when you have to leave it for a while. Car storage facilities provide you with the peace of mind of knowing that your vehicle is in a safe and monitored space when you’re not around to watch it — and there are many different levels of service available. Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to car storage to help you find the car storage facility that best meets your needs.

Key Points

  • 1 The price of car storage varies based on how long you want to store your car and on how much security and protection from the elements you need.
  • 2 The lowest priced car storage is going to offer the least in the way of protection from both the elements and theft.
  • 3 Make sure you know your vehicle’s dimensions, and especially its height, before you shop — you’ll be able to compare prices more accurately
  • 4 Long-term car storage requires taking essential maintenance steps to make sure that it will still run when you retrieve it.

Types of Car Storage

The first decision you need to make is about the physical space where you want to leave your car. All car storage facilities provide you with a spot from which it won’t get towed and a level of security, but do you also want it protected from the elements? If so, how much protection do you want?

When it comes to the car storage environment, you have three choices: outdoor, covered, and indoor. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Outdoor Car Storage 

Outdoor car storage lots are the lowest cost option, but they provide no protection from the elements. The fee covers an open-air space on the storage facility’s property, as well as the other general amenities the facility offers. This might include fencing, 24-hour security, or easy access. Though most outdoor storage consists of a dedicated parking lot, some facilities take a less formal approach and allow you to park your car in whatever empty spot is available on their property. 

Though choosing an outdoor car storage option will save you money, before making this selection you should give serious consideration to whether the area where you’re storing your car experiences weather events. If hail or dust storms are frequent occurrences, the cheaper choice could result in costly damage to your unprotected vehicle. However, if your top priority is keeping your costs low and the car’s exterior is not a concern, outdoor storage is an excellent option.

Covered Car Storage 

If the thought of having your car vulnerable to hail, dust, or relentless sun exposure makes you wince but you still want an inexpensive option, covered car storage may be the right answer for you. You’ll be provided with a dedicated spot under a canopy-type structure that’s open on all four sides, and though your car will still lack total shelter, the more reasonable expense may make this an appealing option. 

Covered car storage provides a reasonable middle ground. You’ll have the same level of security, surveillance and access and pay a bit more than you would for open storage while knowing that your vehicle is shielded from sun and rain.

Indoor Car Storage

If your highest priority is protecting your vehicle, then indoor car storage is your best option. Though it carries the highest price tag, indoor car storage means never having to worry about rain, snow, hail or dust. Once you pull your car into the unit it is entirely shielded from the elements, including the sun’s damaging rays, and being parked inside an individual unit eliminates the risk of both vandalism, theft, and nearby vehicles dinging your doors. Indoor car storage comes with a price, but the safety and security are likely worth it.

Car Storage Unit Size Guide

If you drive an oversized vehicle, then you know that some parking spots and garages are simply inaccessible to you. The same is true when it comes to car storage. Outdoor car storage provides tremendous flexibility on height and spaces are most commonly offered in an 8×20 size. If you’ve decided on indoor car storage, you need to determine the unit size that will accommodate your vehicle, including its side view mirrors, roof racks, and anything else that extends its exterior dimensions. Though it may be tempting to try to squeeze into a smaller, less expensive unit, you need room to open your car doors to get in and out of the car. To save yourself time and aggravation, measure your vehicle before you take it to a storage facility, paying particular attention to its height and width if it is a pickup truck or large SUV.  

Even if a unit can accommodate your vehicle, you also need to know that you can fit through the unit’s door, which may not be as wide as the space itself. Perhaps most important of all is for you to take the time to check the height of the unit’s garage door and the unit itself, and to compare it to the height of your vehicle. Typical units are 8-10’ tall: this accommodates most vehicles, but those that have special tires or lift kits may face special challenges in finding a unit that works for them.

The most common sizes available for indoor car storage are:

10×15 Car Storage

These units accommodate most compact and small cars, including small SUVs, comfortably, but if you were planning on storing anything else in the unit then it may be a tight fit. They are equipped with standard sized garage doors. Though you should always measure your vehicle’s height and width, these spots can generally accommodate the following makes and models:

Makes and models that fit a 10×15 car storage unit
Acura ILX
Audi TT
BMW X1, Z4
Buick Encore
Chevrolet Aveo, Blazer, Corvette, HHR, Prizm, Sonic, Spark, Volt
Chrysler Crossfire, PT Cruiser
Dodge Caliber, Neon, Nitro, SRT4, Viper
FIAT 500, 500e, 500L
Ford C-Max Energi, Escape, Escort, Fiesta, Focus, Focus ST
GMC Jimmy
Honda Civic, CR-V, Element, Fit, Insight, Prelude, S200
Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Tiburon, Tucson, Velostar
Jaguar F-Type
Jeep Compass, Liberty, Patriot, Wrangler
Kia Forte, Rio, Rondo, Sephia, Soul, Spectra, Sportage
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Freelander, LR2
Lexus CT
Mazda CX-5, Mazda 2, Miata, Protégé, RX-8, Tribute
Mercedes GLK-Class, SLK-Class
MINI Clubman, Countryman, Coupe, Paceman, Roadster
Mitsubishi Mirage
Nissan 350Z, 370Z, Cube, Juke, Leaf, Versa, Versa Note, Xterra
Porsche 911, Boxter, Cayman
Scion iQ, tC, xA, xB, xD
Smart fortwo
Subaru BRZ, Impreza, Impreza WRX, XV Crosstrek
Suzuki Aerio, Esteem, Forenza, Grand Vitara, Reno, Swift, SX4
Toyota Celica, Echo, Matrix, MR2 Spyder, RAV4, Yaris
Volkwagen Beetle, Cabrio, Eos, GLI, Golf, GTI, R32, Rabbit, R32, Tiguan
Volvo TC30

10×20 Car Storage

If you drive a full-size vehicle, or even larger vehicles including pickup trucks, minivans and most full-sized vans, your best bet is likely to be a 10×20’ self-storage unit. This size is also a good option for those with smaller cars who want some extra space for personal belongings. Though you should always measure your vehicle’s height and width, a 10-20’ storage space can generally accommodate the following makes and models:

Makes and models that fit a 10×20 car storage unit
Acura MDX, RDS, RLX, TL
Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Allroad, Q5, Q7, RS5, RS7
BMW 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, ActiveHybrid 3, ActiveHybrid 5, M5, M6, X3, X6
Buick Enclave, LaCrosse, Verano
Cadillac ATS, CTS, CTS-5, Escalade, SRX, XTS
Chevrolet Astro, Camaro, Cavalier, Cobalt, Colorado, Cruze, Equinox, Impala, Malibu, Monte Carlo, S-10, Silverado 1500SS, Tahoe, TrailBlazer, Traverse, Uplander, Venture
Chrysler 200, 300, Aspen, Pacifica, Sebring, Town & Country
Dodge Avenger, Challenger, Charger, Dart, Durango, Grand Caravan, Intrepid, Journey, Magnum, Ram 1500, Stratus
Ford Crown Victoria, Edge, Expedition, Explorer, F-150, Five Hundred, Flex, Freestar, Freestyle, Fusion, Mustang, Ranger, Taurus, Thunderbird
GMC Acadia, Canyon, Envoy, Safari, Sierra 1500, Sonoma, Terrain, Yukon
Honda Accord, Crosstour, Odyssey, Passport, Pilot, Ridgeline
Hyundai Azera, Entourage, Equus, Genesis, Genesis Coupe, Santa Fe, Sonata, Veracruz
Infiniti Q50, Q60, QX50, QX60, Q70, QX80
Jaguar XF, XJ, XK
JEEP Cherokee, Commander, Grand Cherokee
KIA Amanti, Cadenza, Optima, Sedona, Sorento
Land Rover Discovery, LR3, LR4, Range Rover
Lexus ES, GS, GX, IS, IS-F, S, LX, RX
Lincoln Aviator, Continental, LSMS, MKT, MKX, MKZ, Navigator, Town Car
Mazda 626, B2300, B4000, CX-7, CX-9, Mazda3, Mazda5, Mazda6, Millenia, MPV
Mercedes C-Class, CL-Class, CLA-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class, GL-Class, M-Class, SL-Class
Mitsubishi Diamante, Eclipse, Endeavor, Galant, Lancer, Montero, Outlander
Nissan Altima, Armada, Frontier, GT-R, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder, ques, Rogue, Sentra
Porsche Cayenne, Panamera
Saab 9-3, 9-3X, 9-4X, 9-5
Subaru Baja, Forester, Legacy, Outback, Tribeca
Suzuki Equator, Kizashi, Verona
Toyota 4Runner, Avalon, Camry, Camry Solara, Corolla, FJ Cruiser, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Prius, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Venza
Volkswagen CC, EuroVan, Jetta, Passat, Phaeton, Routan, Touareg
Volvo C70, S60, S80, XC60, XC90

10×30 Car Storage

The 10×30 unit represents the largest individual car storage space available, and will not only accommodate a large van or truck but will do so comfortably. Though 10×30 units provide far more room than would be needed for a smaller vehicle, those who also have furniture, boxes or other large items to store would give themselves plenty of room with a unit of this size. Though you should always measure your vehicle’s height and width, a 10×30’ storage space can generally accommodate the following makes and models:

Makes and models that fit a 10×30 car storage unit
Chevrolet Avalanche, Express 1500, Express 2500, Express 3500, Silverado 2500HD, Silverado 3500HD, Suburban 1500
Dodge Dakota, Ram 2500, Ram 3500, Sprinter Van 3500
Ford E-150, E-350 Super duty, Excursion, Expedition EL, F-250, F-350
GMC Savana, Sierra 2500HD, Sierra 3500HD
Lincoln Blackwood, Mark LT, Navigator L
Mitsubishi Raider
Nissan NV Cargo, Titan
Toyota Tundra

How Much Does A Car Storage Unit Cost?

Prices for car storage units vary widely, with cheap car storage unit fees starting at $45 and the most expensive costing as much as $450 per month for facilities that offer high-level security, climate control, and maintenance services. The cost of storage for your car will be determined by several different factors, including:

  • Whether you are choosing outdoor car storage, covered car storage, or indoor car storage
  • The size of the vehicle you are storing
  • The length of time that you are storing your car. (Though you can expect to pay more for long-term storage, the daily rate for that storage will be lower than is true for shorter term arrangements.)
  • The level of security that the storage facility offers
  • Any other amenities that the facility offers

If your priority is to find a cheap car storage unit you should look for outdoor car storage: just remember that your vehicle will not be protected from the elements.

Preparing Your Car for Storage

There are important steps you need to take in order to minimize that impact that long-term storage will have on your car. Below are the maintenance needs that you need to address to ensure that when it’s time for you to take it out of storage, it will be in the best condition possible.

  • There are chemicals in your engine oil, brake fluid and coolant that can damage your engine if they aren’t drained and replaced from time to time, so before putting your car in storage have all of those fluids changed — and the filter as well — to make sure that it is as fresh as possible. Doing so will protect against internal corrosion.
  • Right before dropping off your car for storage, take it to the gas station and top off the tank. The gasoline will not only keep the tank’s seals from drying out, but will also absorb any moisture and prevent internal rusting. Depending on how long you plan on leaving your car, you may want to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank too, as leaving gasoline sitting for more than half a year or so runs the risk of it breaking down.
  • Disconnecting your battery will prevent it from draining its charge — you can simply reconnect it when you’re ready to remove the vehicle from storage. Alternatively, if you’re going to be in the area you can make a point of visiting your car every two weeks or so and driving it around the block a few times to maintain the battery, or if you’re choosing inside car storage with electricity you can purchase a device called a trickle charger, which will provide a constant small charge to the battery.
  • To avoid coming back to flat tires, consider putting your car up on jack stands and taking the wheels off entirely. This alleviates tire damage caused by not moving the car. If you’re not going to jack the car up, put your tires in the best possible condition before storing your vehicle by having the tires rotated and over inflated. 
  • Many people leave their vehicles in long-term car storage and return to find that their windshield wipers are stuck to the windshield glass. You can avoid this by removing the wipers entirely, putting them up into the outreached position, or putting a piece of wax paper or plastic between the wipers and the glass.
  • To prevent your parking brake pads from fusing with the rotors, make sure that your parking brake is not on. Secure the car (if it is not up on jacks) by putting chocks under the wheels.
  • Plug up any openings in your car. Doing so will keep moisture, dust, small animals, and insects from getting inside. This includes the tailpipe.
  • Consider investing in a car cover to protect against dust and dirt on the exterior. Another good investment used frequently by car collectors is a product called a car storage bubble which envelops your entire car in a plastic capsule that is inflated via an included fan.

Preparing Your Car for Outdoor Storage

If you’ve chosen outdoor car storage, you do so with the knowledge that your vehicle will be fully exposed to the sun, wind, and rain, as well as other natural environmental impacts. Even if your car is not shiny and new, you need to put a little work into protecting it — otherwise it may be much the worse for the wear when you retrieve it. 

Cars may seem impervious to weather, but sunlight can affect both its paint job and its tires, while moisture from rain and snow creates corrosion. Investing in a high-quality car cover may seem counterintuitive when you’ve purposely chosen a cheap car storage unit, but doing so may save you repair money in the long run. There are many to choose from, but the ones made of “dri-fit” material are particularly effective at trapping moisture and providing much-needed ventilation, and have the added benefit of also protecting the tires from sun damage that could cause them to lose elasticity and to crack.

If you opt out of covering your vehicle, you can also protect your car’s paint by applying a fresh coating of wax or applying a paint protection film that is sold in kits at auto supply stores. This can be liberally applied to both the vehicle’s paint and to acrylic parts such as highlights and to chrome. All of these parts need protection from the elements, and doing so has the added benefit of protecting the vehicle’s body that lies underneath the paint and trim. Even cars that already have dings and deep scratches will benefit from these steps, as they will go a long way towards keeping those spots from corroding.

Taking Your Car Out of Storage

When it’s time to retrieve your car, you need to think of it in the same way that you would a person who hasn’t moved for a while. Simply driving it off of the lot or out of the storage locker as though it’s been in a garage for a day or two is not only a mistake — it can be dangerous. 

You need to inspect it carefully, checking the fluid levels and the condition and pressure of the tires. Windshield wipers need to be reinstalled and dirt and dust should be wiped off, taking special care to make sure that nothing crawled into the exhaust pipe or built a nest on your engine.

Pay special attention to parts that may have dried out — these include windshield wipers and tires, but also gaskets around the windows.  Start the car and allow it to run for a few minutes to make sure that the battery has not discharged, then drive it around the facility for a few minutes before taking it out onto the open road. That’s the best way to detect any problems without putting your vehicle, yourself or other drivers in harms’ way.