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Car Storage

Cars may seem like practical, everyday items, but they are highly valuable - most vehicle owners make arrangements to ensure nothing happens to their vehicle if they need to leave town or simply not use it for a period of time. If you own a car and find yourself in this situation, you may not know that safe, monitored space is available at self-storage facilities, many of which have upgraded their offerings to meet the various storage needs of car owners.

Key Point Module

  • 1 Evaluate your budget (keeping in mind the length of time you are planning to leave it in storage) and take into account the value of your car.
  • 2 Extra protections do come with a higher price tag.
  • 3 Don’t forget to take your vehicle’s height into consideration when evaluating the size.
  • 4 Prepare your car for storage. Failure to do so will almost certainly cause problems that can accumulate the longer the vehicle is left in storage.

New to the ins and outs of car storage? The following guide will walk you through the options available, as well as the processes by which you can protect your car in storage. If you are ready to check out your car storage options, simply enter your city or ZIP code in the search bar above to see what’s nearby.

Types of car storage

Storage facilities that are equipped to store vehicles usually offer one of more of the following options:

  • Outdoor car storage, which allows you to rent a parking space on the property. This tends to be cheapest, but offers the lowest level of environmental protection and safety.
  • Covered car storage – similar to outdoor car storage, but the lot is covered by a roof.
  • Indoor car storage units. You simply drive your car into a unit large enough to contain it. Of the three, this option is the most expensive.

Each of these three types of car storage has its pros and cons, which we will cover in detail in the next section. You will need to evaluate your budget (keeping in mind the length of time you are planning to leave it in storage) and take into account the value of your car.

Outdoor car storage

Outdoor car storage usually refers to a paved parking spot. This may not necessarily be an assigned area, but could also mean some unused spaces on the property. As mentioned previously, this is the cheapest way to store your car at a storage facility. However, storing your car outside leaves it vulnerable to the elements, particularly rain/snow and sun, which can cause rust, paint peeling, and tire damage, amongst other types of damage. For this reason, outdoor storage may be best for shorter periods such as a few weeks. If you choose to store your car outside, always use a high-quality car cover. This will help keep moisture from accumulating and sunlight from causing damage.

Covered car storage

Some facilities offer assigned, covered spaces for parking. The roofing can offer some protection from sunlight and precipitation, but is a bit more expensive, and your car will still be exposed to dust, dirt, and other environmental factors.

Indoor car storage units

If you are seeking the highest level of safety and protection from sun, rain, and snow, an indoor storage unit is the way to go. An indoor unit is best for long-term storage. Make sure the unit you are looking at has drive-up access, so that you can easily fit the car inside. Depending on the size you choose, you could also have the option to store a few extra items if needed, which may be something you’re thinking about already if you will be away for a while.

These extra protections do come with a higher price tag. If your car is small enough, you may be able to rent a 10×15 unit to keep costs down. But if you need a 10×30 unit, you’ll be spending more.

Car storage unit size guide

The cost of an outdoor car storage space (covered or uncovered) will depend on the size of your vehicle. Sizes can vary widely, but most common sizes range from 8×20 to 11×15.

Indoor storage units come in a few standard sizes, so you will need to select a size that fits your vehicle. Below are the most common standard sizes, with more details to help you figure out which size you will need for your car, followed by examples of popular models that can fit into each designated size unit. For a more comprehensive list of car dimensions and recommended unit sizes by model, be sure to check out our car storage size guide.

10×15 car storage

Most coupes, hatchbacks, crossovers and small SUVs are approximately 15 feet long. If you will be using the unit for the vehicle only, and have a two-door model, you might be able to squeeze your vehicle into a this size storage unit, but it will be a tight fit. Always make sure to measure your vehicle correctly, especially if you’re looking to save money by renting a smaller unit.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Prizm, Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet Spark, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Neon, Ford Escape, Ford Escort, Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Honda Fit , Honda Insight, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Tiburon, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Patriot, Jeep Wrangler, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Kia Sportage, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Lexus CT, Mazda CX-5, Mazda Mazda2, Mazda Miata, Mazda Protege, Mazda Tribute, MINI Coupe, MINI Roadster, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan 350Z, Nissan 370Z, Nissan Cube, Nissan Versa, Nissan Xterra, Scion iQ, Scion tC, Scion xA, Scion xB, Scion xD, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki Aerio, Suzuki Forenza, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Suzuki Swift, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Celica, Toyota Echo, Toyota Matrix, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen GTI, Volkswagen R32, Volkswagen Rabbit, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volvo C30.

10×20 car storage

Most automobiles will fit comfortably inside a 10×20 self-storage unit, including SUVs, crossovers, sedans, minivans, pickup trucks, and most full-sized vans, making them the default safe option for most car owners.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Prizm, Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet Spark, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caliber, Dodge Neon, Ford Escape, Ford Escort, Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Honda Element, Honda Fit , Honda Insight, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Elantra, Hyundai Tiburon, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Liberty, Jeep Patriot, Jeep Wrangler, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Kia Sportage, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Lexus CT, Mazda CX-5, Mazda Mazda2, Mazda Miata, Mazda Protege, Mazda Tribute, MINI Coupe, MINI Roadster, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan 350Z, Nissan 370Z, Nissan Cube, Nissan Versa, Nissan Xterra, Scion iQ, Scion tC, Scion xA, Scion xB, Scion xD, Subaru Impreza, Suzuki Aerio, Suzuki Forenza, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Suzuki Swift, Suzuki SX4, Toyota Celica, Toyota Echo, Toyota Matrix, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen GTI, Volkswagen R32, Volkswagen Rabbit, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volvo C30.

10×30 car storage

Most consumer motor vehicles will not require a storage unit of this size, but if you do own a larger truck or van, a 10×20 would be a tight fit. A 10×30 unit works best not only for those who do own these larger vehicles, but can be a great option for someone who needs to store additional items such as furniture and large appliances.

Don’t forget to take your vehicle’s height into consideration when evaluating the size. Make sure to measure the height of your vehicle in addition to length and width, especially if you have larger wheels or a lift kit. Most storage units are about 8′-10′ tall, and many models of larger vehicles reach nearly 7′.

Popular cars you can store in this unit: Audi A8, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Express 1500, Chevrolet Express 2500, Chevrolet Express 3500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD, Chevrolet Suburban 1500, Chevrolet Uplander, Dodge Dakota, Dodge Ram 1500, Dodge Ram 2500, Dodge Ram 3500, Dodge Sprinter Van 3500, Ford Crown Victoria, Ford E-150, Ford E-350 Super Duty, Ford Excursion, Ford Expedition, Ford Expedition EL, Ford F-150, Ford F-250, Ford F-350, GMC Savanna, GMC Sierra 1500, GMC Sierra 2500HD, GMC Sierra 3500HD, Honda Ridgeline, Infiniti QX80, Lincoln Blackwood, Lincoln Continental, Lincoln Mark LT, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, Lincoln Navigator, Lincoln Navigator L, Lincoln Town Car, Mitsubishi Raider, Nissan Armada, Nissan Frontier, Nissan NV Cargo, Nissan Titan, Suzuki Equator, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Tundra.

Preparing your car for storage

Even if you choose the fanciest, indoor climate-controlled unit available to you, you’ll still need to prepare your car for storage. Failure to do so will almost certainly cause problems that can accumulate the longer the vehicle is left in storage. Follow the steps outlined below to help ensure your car comes out of storage in the same condition as when you left it.

  • Change the oil, filter, brake fluid, and coolant. Engine oil contains contaminants that can damage the engine if not changed frequently. Other chemicals can cause the parts that use them to corrode.
  • Fill the gas tank. Gasoline absorbs the moisture in your tank that would otherwise accumulate and cause rust. Filling the tank will also prevent its seals from drying out. If you’re leaving the car for several months or longer, use a fuel stabilizer. This will prevent gas from deteriorating for about one year.
  • Cars drain their battery even when the engine is off. Avoid having to replace your battery when you remove the car by disconnecting it before storage. If you want to avoid disconnecting the battery, try to drive the car for 15 minutes every two weeks to help maintain the battery and keep the components lubricated. If you want to keep the battery charged in your absence, and your unit has electricity, you can use a trickle charger to connect your car battery to an electrical outlet.
  • Take care of your tires. If your car sits in the same position over a long period, the tires will develop flat spots and require replacement. This problem can be worsened by cold temperatures. You can prevent flat spots from developing by getting your tires rotated and over-inflated prior to storage, but this won’t do much for protection the long term. It’s a good idea to raise your car up on jack stands, and remove the wheels.
  • Remove your windshield wipers, or place a barrier between the wipers and the glass. The rubber on your windshield wipers can stick to your windshield, leaving stubborn residue. Place a plastic cover between the wipers and the windshield, or just remove them.
  • Prevent dust, dirt, and unwanted guests from getting inside by using a car cover and plugging any openings, such as the tailpipe. If you want extra protection, you can get a car storage bubble, which uses a small electric fan to inflate a clear plastic capsule to envelop the car. These are commonly used for the storage of exotic and collector cars.
  • Release your parking brake. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you leave your parking brake pads on for too long, they can fuse with the rotors. If you choose to leave the wheels on, place chocks under them. These prevent movement better than the parking brake does.

Preparing your car for outdoor storage

If you opt for outdoor storage, you will need to take extra precautions to protect your car from wear and tear caused by the elements.

The two greatest dangers to storing your car outside are sunlight and precipitation. Sunlight damages paint and tires. Moisture can cause parts of your car to corrode. The most effective way to protect your car when storing it outside is with a high-quality car cover. The best car covers avoid trapping moisture by incorporating ventilation or using a wicking “dri-fit” material. They may not be cheap, but by minimizing the damage from long-term storage, they will save you money in the long run.

If you decide against using a car cover, there are a few other measures you can take. You can protect paint damage from the sun by waxing the car. The wax acts as a protective coating, and repels dirt and dust. You can also use a paint protection film kits, which are available at auto parts stores. Acrylic materials like headlight can yellow in the sun – you can use film over these areas as well. Don’t forget: your car’s paint isn’t just there to look good, but it actually protects the aluminum body of your car from rust.

Direct sunlight can also damage your tires over time by causing them to crack and lose their elasticity. This will make them dangerous to drive on, so prevent sun damage by keeping them covered.

If you already have paint damage, touch it up before you store your car outside. Scratches and pits (especially those which have reached bare metal) are likely to worsen under pressure from the elements, causing rust.

Taking your car out of storage

In addition to taking protective measures prior to storage, you will need to check your vehicle thoroughly before driving it out. Neglecting to do this can worsen damage that might have occurred during time spent in storage. If you take the time to do this, you can avoid dangerous driving and costly repairs. Inspect the following areas before taking your car back out on the road:

  • Clean your car out. Wipe off all dirt and dust. Check for evidence of pests—you don’t want to start your car up with a mouse in the exhaust pipe!
  • Check fluids. Refill anything that appears low.
  • Inspect the rubber parts of your vehicle, such as ties and windshield wipers, for any cracks.
  • Check tire pressure and inspect tires for flat spots.
  • Reattach your battery and see if you can start your car.
  • Allow the car to run for a few minutes to make sure that everything is functioning smoothly.
  • Slowly drive your car around the storage facility. Carefully test your brakes – they may have accumulated rust. Unless rust is extensive, it should wear away after a bit of use.
  • Be cautious while driving immediately after long-term storage, and stay attentive to any signs of damage during the first few days.