Storing your daily driver overnight isn’t a big deal, but classic cars often sit for months. This makes them susceptible to damage from sun, snow, hail, rodents, accidents and more, and fixing this damage can be expensive. What are your options for safely storing your antique car, and how much will it cost?
How Can the Right Storage Solution Protect My Car?
Exposure to the elements accelerates aging. UV light breaks down paint, rubber and plastics. Water encourages corrosion, while heavy snow and ice can damage body panels and convertible tops. Store your vehicle in a moist area, and it can quickly become covered in moss. Tree sap can damage paint, and it’s a nightmare to remove.
Rodents can do major damage to your car, tearing up interiors, eating wiring insulation, and filling intakes and exhausts with debris. While there are ways to discourage these pests, the best solution is keeping your antique in a building that has no holes that give squirrels, rats, mice and other animals access to your vehicle.
When your car sits outside, it experiences cycles of heat and cold that make components expand and contract. Over time, this degrades rubber and plastic, making it fragile. Keeping sunlight from entering the windows keeps heat down, protecting interior plastics. This can be as simple as covering the car with a tarp. If you’re trying to preserve an all original car, the best solution is climate-controlled storage. This slows the degradation of tires, hoses and belts, as well as the formation of rust. Climate control also limits humidity. Reducing exposure to moisture slows rust formation.
Which storage solution is right for you? It comes down to balancing cost against protection.
Preserving Your Car When Storing It Outside
Leaving your car outside may be the cheapest solution, but it’s also offers the least protection. However, there are still steps you can take to protect your vehicle.
Placing the car under a carport or lean-to reduces direct contact with rain and snow, and limits sun exposure. Even parking the car next to a building will shield it from some weather exposure. Applying fresh coat of wax seals paint, reducing damage from water and bird droppings.
A car cover shields the car from all direct contact with precipitation, UV light and tree sap.
However, low quality covers can trap moisture. A high quality, custom-fit cover may be expensive, but it’s less likely to come off in high winds than a universal cover.
Increasing Your Car Storage Space: Garage Lifts and Carports
Ideally, you should have space in your garage for your car, but that’s not always an option. A single stand-alone garage costs an average of $23,000 to build, putting it out of reach of most car collectors. However, there are some more affordable car storage options that let you keep your collector’s car at home.
Fabric-covered shelters can cost as little as $300, while metal shelters range from $800 to $2,500. Fully enclosed metal garages start at $3,500. Installation costs vary widely, depending on the features you want. Installing a concrete slab costs an average of $25 per square foot, while wiring for electricity costs an average of $300. Your site may be ready for installation, or it may require excavation that can cost thousands of dollars. Permit costs also vary, depending on the location.
If you have a tall garage, you can store two cars in each space by installing a lift. Depending on the lift you choose and the mounting and wiring required to use it, you can expect to pay $3,500-$7,000 for the lift plus $500 to $1,000 for installation.
Getting Off-Site Storage
If you can’t store your car at home, self storage units are a great option. They offer some security, thanks to fencing and gates programmed to only open to renters. Average rates range from $50-$250, depending on the location of the unit, its size, and if it is climate controlled.
Most storage locations have 10 foot-wide storage spaces in a range of lengths. A 15 foot-long space can hold compact cars, like a VW Beetle or a classic British roadster. 10 x 20 foot units can accommodate most vehicles, including sedans, light duty trucks and SUVs. If you have a large truck or full-size van, you may need a 25 foot storage space. The average storage unit has a door height of 7 feet and 8 inches. Tall trucks and lifted SUVs can’t fit in these spaces, but you may be able to rent an outdoor or covered parking space alongside RVs and boats.
If you opt for outdoor parking, keep in mind that 8 x 20 foot spaces have the same amount of room as enclosed 10 x 20 foot car storage units. Some facilities offer covered parking, which gives your vehicle the same protection as a car port.
Car Condos: The Latest Trend in Classic Car Storage
Self-storage places are fine if you just want to cover your classic car, but what if you could store it somewhere geared to cars? That’s the idea behind car condos. These businesses cater to the needs of classic and exotic car owners by offering a parking space along with access to clubs, vehicle services and discounts for car-related activities.
These facilities take two main forms: club space and commercial space. Condo-based car clubs focus on the social aspects of ownership. These facilities have rooms for members to hang out and have meetings, and they host events, car shows and track days. Like a country club, you pay a membership fee to join the club, with parking being one of the benefits. Business-focused condos are registered as commercial real estate. Buyers can write off their condo as a business expense. Businesses can buy spaces, so they can offer services to condo owners, including detailing, repairs, insurance and car sales.
The services offered vary depending on the location. Inner-city and airport condos are little more than climate-controlled parking garages, giving you easy access to your vehicle at the lowest possible price. Race track condos range from small garages to full shops that can house racing teams. Membership usually includes a few free track days per season. Suburban and industrial center-based facilities offer the most space, making them true condos with space for multiple cars, tools, and even private rooms to host guests.
A car condo can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. While expensive, these spaces are 1/2-2/3 the price per square foot of residential space in the area. Individual spaces are cheaper, with fees of a few thousand per year with all the club benefits included. The convenience of these locations can make them a better choice over a standard storage unit. Take the available services into account, and you may find that a condo lowers the total cost of ownership for your classic car.
How Much Does It Cost to Ship My Car to and From My Storage Location?
If your car isn’t drivable, or driving long distances isn’t practical, you’ll need to hire a car hauling service. Expect to pay around $3 per mile for distances under 100 miles. Long haul deliveries over 1,000 miles are cheaper, costing as little as $0.80 per mile.
Enclosed trailers carry fewer cars than open trailers, increasing shipping costs by an average of 25 to 50 cents per mile. However, they offer added protection from weather and road debris.
How Do I Protect My Car During Short Term Storage?
The best way to keep your car in shape is by driving it. Taking it on a short trip each week to fully warm up the mechanical components will stop most storage-related wear and tear. If it’s going to be less than a month before you drive again, there are a few steps you can take to make the next start easier.
Fill and treat the gas tank: A full tank holds less air, reducing oxidation. Adding a fuel stabilizer when you fill your tank can keep it fresh for up to three months.
Cover the car: If your car is stored anywhere other than a garage, it can be damaged by the elements. Using a car cover protects the exterior and interior.
Air up the tires: Tires lose air over time. Filling them before parking keeps them from going flat.
How Do I Protect My Car While It’s In Long Term Storage?
If you’re parking your car for the winter, or you’re in the middle of a restoration, preparation is key to protecting your car while it’s in storage for more than a month at a time.
Clean it thoroughly: Bird droppings and water stains can damage paint. Skin oils, dust and spills can damage interior surfaces and create foul odors during storage..
Change the oil: Motor oil turns acidic as it absorbs chemicals left behind during combustion. Over time, this oil can eat away at metal surfaces.
Check the antifreeze: A cheap tester will tell you what temperature your coolant will freeze at. If it’s higher than the coldest temperature your area sees in winter, change the coolant. If you aren’t sure when you’ll be back for your vehicle, consider draining the cooling system.
Prevent flat spots: If the car sits too long, its weight will create flat spots on the bottoms of the tires. Tire saver ramps spread out the load across the tire, while lifting the car onto jack stands take the load off of the tires entirely.
Protect the battery: Disconnecting the battery stops current draw from phantom loads. Connecting the vehicle to a trickle charger keeps the battery from fully discharging.
Treat or remove fuel: Gasoline that contains ethanol absorbs water over time, corroding metal. Ethanol-free gas degrades quickly, turning into a sticky mess that sticks valves and clogs fuel systems. Either way, stale fuel can be a major headache. Even stabilized fuel starts going bad after three months. If you’re storing your car for any longer than that, you should remove as much fuel as possible. This includes the tank, as well as the lines and the float bowls in your carburetor.
Release the parking brake: If the pads or shoes stay in contact with the braking surface for too long, they can stick.
Stop rodents: Even if you’re keeping the car in a sealed building, a little extra protection doesn’t hurt. Place steel wool in the air intake and exhaust pipe to keep pests from getting to the engine. Off-the-shelf mouse repellent, moth balls and peppermint oil are all effective at keeping rodents away from the interior and wiring.
What Do I Need to Do to Get My Car Out of Storage?
Try to drive your car out of storage immediately, and you could damage it. Before you crank the engine, take some steps to ensure your car is road ready.
Look under the car for leaks: This makes it easy to find exactly where your car is leaking.
Check the intake and air filter: Debris left behind by rodents can clog tubes. Start the car with an air box full of debris, and it’ll end up in the engine.
Check the fluid levels: Leaks aren’t always visible. You don’t want to start the engine without oil or coolant.
Prime the oil pump: It can take several seconds for the pump to get oil up into the block and head, leaving components unprotected when you first start the engine. There are tools available that use a drill to spin the pump, priming the lubrication system. You may need to remove the distributor to access the pump.
Do I Need to Insure My Car While It’s In Storage?
Like your daily driver insurance, having a lapse on your classic car’s coverage makes you look like a high risk to your insurer. This increases premiums, and can make it harder to buy new policies in the future. However, you can save money by changing the type of coverage you carry.
If you plan on storing your car for more than 30 days, most insurers have the option of discontinuing liability coverage while still carrying comprehensive coverage. This is sometimes packaged as “car storage insurance” or “parked car insurance.” You aren’t protected if you drive your car and damage another vehicle. However, you are protected if something happens to your car during storage. This includes everything from having a tree fall on it to having it stolen. It also covers your car if it’s hit by another vehicle, so long as it can be proven that your car was parked at the time.
About Metro Moulded Parts Classic Car Parts
For any serious classic car restoration, you'll want to use the only brand professional installers trust. Metro Moulded Parts car parts are of the highest quality in the industry and will add real value to your car, regardless of the application. Moreover, you can be sure all our parts are made authentically down to the finest details of the original. Don't fall for low-quality substitutes. Make sure you buy the genuine article. Click here to learn more about our superior quality and why people really can feel the difference. Also check out our shop of over 15,000 items to find out what we currently offer for your vehicle.