You wouldn’t want to come home from vacation with dirty dishes in the sink or piles of laundry, would you? How about with the heat blasting and all your electronics left on? You need to prepare your vehicle for storage during winter vacations just like you do your home. Hopefully you have a secure garage (the best place for storage), and if not remember that a car cover can do wonders but it’s only for outside use.
Start by taking care of any red flags now, like that chip in the windshield or oil change that’s due. It’s better to come back from a holiday without a massive to do list, and it’ll be easy to push these necessities to the back burner when you return. Otherwise, here’s what you need to do before heading off to your winter getaway:
1. Give it a good detailing
You can either do this yourself or spring for a professional job. Get tips from Popular Mechanics for the DIY approach, and don’t think that just because you’ll be gone a couple of weeks cleaning your car is “useless”. That dirt and debris can actually cause permanent damage, especially in rainy weather, if you let it marinate. Regular washings and details are crucial in winter months.
2. Remove all valuables
You should be doing this nightly anyway, but pay extra attention if you’ll be gone. This is especially true if you live in a snowy region and don’t have a neighbor to move your car regularly. Burglars know holidays are prime time for empty house, and an unmoved car (as evident by the snow pileup) is a clear green light. For more advice on preventing burglary year-round, the Reader’s Digest dishes up some tips.
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3. Get all fluids checked
Even if you don’t have an oil change coming up, it’s smart to splurge on a tune up and make sure all the fluid levels are up to snuff. This is something that should be done bi-annually anyway, and a vacation is the perfect excuse. You want to come back to a perfectly running car, not a lump of metal that won’t start.
4. Aim for a gas tank that’s 2/3 full
You don’t want your first task when you get home to be heading to the fuel station. A tank that’s 2/3 full is perfect for cars stored a couple of weeks.
Most importantly, make sure that the car is locked. Otherwise, you’re asking for a car break-in.