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New Driver

Long term storage

I need to store my ’88 Mini for two or more years. I have found a lot of advice on shorter term storage, say, over a winter, but nothing for long term. I need advice!


First question: for two years, is starting the car every few weeks better then preserving the car and not worrying about starting it? I can remove the gas tank and all gas (tank is rusted, so needs replacing anyway), fog the engine, and so forth.  I am concerned about the gas going bad and gas odor build up (the car is definitely gassy). I also don’t want to burden someone with the chore of maintaining the battery, starting it, changing gas, etc. Preserving would also let me remove the tires to save them, as the car wouldn’t be moved.


I have a metal shed I can put the car in. Currently it is not sealed up, but I am thinking of framing it out, sealing it, and insulating it. If I preserve the car I would add a dehumidifier (but not heat/ac). If I leave gas in it, I will have to ventilate the space, which means no dehumidifier and ambient air exposure and humidity concerns (it is central TX, so not horribly wet, but not arid).


Other options are a car bag or one of those inflatable cocoons. The bag would need desiccant and I worry about gas fumes if gas is left in the car. I have read mixed reviews on if the bubble cocoon types. Some say they prevent moisture buildup, but others had horrible experiences. They also require filter changes and the fans may fail.


I am leaning towards the preservation option with a dehumidifier. I could put a vent fan in as backup. If I go this route, what other things should I preserve and how?


Anyone have experience or tips they can offer?


Central Texas air/climate is well out of my wheel house. Observations from my humid summer snowy winter rust belt area:


-humid = mold on interior surfaces. 2 years it probably wipes off reasonably easy. Cloth interior might smell though. More dark and closed up = more mold.

-2 years of direct sunlight can absolutely fade/damage something. Most noticeable if you have a part of the car getting more sun than the rest.

-if your gas has ethanol in it then 6 months storage is pushing it. Some believe in gas stabilizers... in my area premium gas has no ethanol so I believe in premium gas (even for lawn equipment).

-take the battery out. Long term a leaking battery can do more tin damage than just about anything. We dealt with a 25 year stored outside 51 Chev... that a battery stuck in the trunk had rusted a hole right through (rest of floor was fine).

-Mice... and such are an enemy. They will move all soft stuffing/insulation around to nest, eat wires and live in air cleaner openings...

-Tires... I have parts cars sitting on 40 year old tires that hold air and look awful, and have had new tires rot/crack right through or not hold air while looking perfect. We're not supposed to run tires that are very old (may vary by state/country/insurance) anyways but secure up on jack stands with safety blocks at least prevents your tires getting a flat spot or going flat and cracking a sidewall.


One of the more-recent Roadkill Garage episodes did a thing about starting a car that has been sitting a long time correctly (those guys usually don't do it correctly so you wreck things you don't have to wreck like piston rings). How you start the dormant engine is as important (or more) than how you prep it to sleep in my view.


I don't start my winter storage vehicles multiple times through the winter any more and have had no issue with flat-sided tires or other issues. I change fluids after storage though  even if I barely drove the vehicle previous season.


Full disclosure, no experience with storage for more than 6 months or so, but fwiw....

Consider draining the gas but leaving the tank in place so the system is still closed and relatively sealed to the elements. Fog the engine, pull the battery and a good quality breathable car cover. Put the car on stands, but with weight on the suspension. I wouldn’t  leave shocks and suspension components in full droop long term. You can store the wheels and tires in a dry dark place, but you still may need new rubber after that long.
My biggest worry wouldn’t be gas odor or a little humidity, it would be mice and anything else that like to chew and nest. Thoroughly clean the car inside to minimize attracting them with anything that smells like food. FWIW, years ago an older friend told me to use mothballs in a cup or bowl under the car and/or in the trunk. He claimed it was good to keep insects (and thereby rodents) away. No science behind it but anecdotally in the 40 yrs or so since I started doing it on my old car over the winter I’ve never had an issue. Mothball smell disappears in a hour or two in fresh air. 
Unless your space is really tight, a little gas smell might also discourage vermin. 

Community Manager

This is a fantastic question. I have (unintentionally) stored cars indoors for 3+ years without touching them and I have learned a few things to reinforce/add to the above points. 


1.  Drain the gas tank, carb, fuel lines etc.  

2. Change the engine oil 

3. Remove the battery and either get a new one when you are ready to drive again or put that one on a workbench with a battery tender on it. 

4. Overinflate the tires before parking, or store them in the most climate controlled area you can (i.e. put the car on jack stands but dont let the suspension droop). It really depends on the tires current age, condition, and value (for low mileage cars still on original tires).