Here’s a checklist of the steps you can take to keep your car ready for your return from the military, college, or some other place that may require that you live without your vehicle for a while. As you are doing these things, write down what you have done. Then, leave that list on the steering wheel for you to go over once you have returned to your car:
Fill your fuel tank with fresh fuel – Condensation in the tank is a big problem for stored cars. We suggest that you fill your tank with premium non-alcohol fuel in order to avoid any empty room where water can build up.
Change the oil – if you’re going away for years, consider changing the oil with one that doesn’t have caustic detergents.
Add a gas stabilizer – Gasoline may become “gummy” over time so it is useful to add a gasoline stabilizer to your tank. You can get gas stabilizers at many hardware and auto parts stores.
Clean your car – Clean the interior extensively, being especially vigilant about trash and all food scraps as these can attract small animals. Taking out the carpets for heated indoor storage will prevent them from getting musty.
Leave your parking brake off – If the parking brake is left on, the brake pads may stick to the rotors. Put chocks under the tires to prevent movement when parked on pavement or in a garage.
Use a battery trickle charger – These are essentially “smart” battery chargers that only turn on periodically while your vehicle is in storage. A battery trickle charger will keep your battery charged so all the vehicle’s electronic devices, like computers, stay “on”.
Spray oil in your engine’s cylinders – Beck Chrysler in Palatka, Florida suggests that you remove the spark plugs and spray “fogging oil” into the cylinders to prevent rusting, then re-insert the plugs. Fogging oil is an item commonly used in the boating business and you should be able to get it at any marina.
Windshield wipers- Be careful of leaving wiper arms extended if you take the windshield wipers off. If they snap back on the glass, the arms may break the windshield, and the chances of that happening are higher in colder conditions. Instead, wrap the arm in a washcloth, then wrap it with a piece of duct tape, then lay the arm back on the windshield.
Keep rodents out – Rodents love cars and you want to keep them out of yours. Consider putting baits around the car and have someone check the vehicle once in a while. Inside the car, you can scatter strong smelling dryer sheets around; rodents don’t like the smell.
Use a vapor barrier – Think about placing a sheet of vapor barrier plastic under the vehicle on the floor if being stored indoors. This will prevent water vapor from seeping up into your car.
Cover it up—If you are interested in keeping your car’s exterior dry and clean, cover it up with a weatherproof car cover.