Mercedes Storage – 10 Tips To Protect Your Car This Winter
For many people, a classic Mercedes is a cherished item that is used only in good weather, and to that end, many people choose to store their car over the winter to prevent damage from water and salt. Vehicle storage however is not as straightforward as simply parking your car in your garage and closing the door behind you.
Cars are generally stored for either extended periods of a year or more, or for a few months only, for example over the winter. Whatever your reason for Mercedes storage, the aim is to ensure that your car remains in a running condition upon your return, and any damage from storage eliminated.
1) Choose A Secure, Dry Location
Covered Mercedes storage is preferable in order to reduce the potential for rust. This is often your garage at home, but there are also dedicated public storage facilities where you can choose from a range of care plans or simply arrange to call in regularly yourself to check your car and run it up.
If you are storing the car in your own building, try to ensure it’s not only secure from theft and/or vandalism, but be vigilant in particular against rodent damage. This means checking that any large gaps into the engine or inside the car are sealed. Mice can cause thousands of pounds worth of damge to a car in a very short time!
Be careful when using a waterproof cover, as they can often trap moisture between the underside of the cover and the car body.
2) Wash and Clean Your Car
It sounds a little tedious and perhaps a little pointless, but cleaning your car carefully before putting it into storage can save a lot of problems when you return to take it out for the first time. Cars are exposed to a lot of damaging substances in day to day use, some of which if not removed can cause long term damage. In particular, bird droppings are often very acidic and can actually eat into paintwork if not removed quickly. Over a period of time this can result in damage right down to the metal.
Along the sills, any tar residue should be removed as this can stain paintwork over time. Remove any brake residue from wheels, and if possible consider applying a coat of wax to the paintwork for a little added protection.
Make sure you dry the car fully as any standing water on the paintwork can cause permanent staining.
3) Fill Her Up!
To prevent a build up of moisture, top off your tank with fuel. It’s also an idea to consider adding an additive/stabiliser if you’re planning to store the car for several months. Ethanol in the fuel can build up in the engine which can be corrosive over a period of time. Keeping the tank full will also ensure all seals and pipes are kept lubricated and prevent drying out.
4) Perform An Oil Change
Change your oil & filter with a good quality oil and a genuine brand filter. This will reduce any silt and/or swarf settling in the engine/sump. Old oil can become acidic and eat into soft surfaces. Once you’ve completed the change, run the engine up for a few minutes to ensure the fresh oil has circulated around the engine to protect all components.
5) Release The Brakes
To reduce the risk of your brakes seizing, chock your wheels to prevent the car moving and release the handbrake.
6) Maintain Your Battery
There are differing opinions on this one. On more modern vehicles, many people choose to leave the battery in the car to avoid losing settings to on board equipment, while others prefer to completely remove it for extended periods of storage.
With both options, it’s possible to connect the battery to a trickle charger/conditioner, which will keep it at it’s optimum condition, increasing the life of the unit while giving you that first time start upon your return to the vehicle.
It’s also worth smearing the battery terminals with grease/petroleum jelly to prevent corrosion.
7) Fully Inflate Your Tyres
If your car is stored for a longer period of time, your tyres could develop flat spots. This can particularly effect low profile tyres, leading to permanent damage if the car is left standing without moving for more than a month or two. Over inflating the tyres a little will compensate for dissipation, which in colder months is more rapid.
If your car is likely to be standing for over 3 months, you may like to consider removing the wheels and leaving the car on axle stands. This will take the pressure of full weight of the car off the tyres.
8) Form A Maintenance Plan
While your plan may not be to actually drive the car while it’s in storage, you should consider a maintenance regime that will allow the engine to run regularly. Ideally taking the car for a short trip will keep everything loose and reduce the risk of seizures, but in many cases, the reason for storage is because the car will not be taken out.
Run the engine for 15-20 minutes once every week or fortnight, whichever is more convenient, allowing it to reach full operating temperature. This will also burn off any moisture in the exhaust system. If the car features aircon, run this too as it will lubricate all of the pipes and seals. Cycle the gears several times to keep all the joints loose.
Don’t forget your cars interior. Mould can quickly form on surfaces, especially leather and rubber. Source a good anti-bacterial cleaner and/or leather cleaner, and try to keep moisture inside the vehicle to a minimum. This is easily achieved with silica gel packs which you can dry out periodically before returning them back to the car.
9) Don’t cancel your insurance!
While you may feel insurance isn’t necessary because your car is stored under cover, it’s still possible that your car could be damaged or in the worst case, even destroyed. It’s worth talking to your insurance company if you plan to store the vehicle for an extended period of time, to check for any special conditions or price breaks.
If you’re storing your car in a public Mercedes storage facility, check what the insurance arrangements are and how much they are covered for in the event of fire or total loss from an act of god.
10) Post Storage Checklist
When you’re ready to bring your car out of Mercedes storage, be sure to check the following:
– Check your fluids. Look under the vehicle to check for any leaks. Top up oils and coolant if required.
– Consider changing the brake fluid. If the car has stood for many months, it’s often advisable to refresh your brake fluid.
– Check your wiper blades for any cracking or splitting, and replace where necessary.
– Check all tyres for splits or cracks. Check pressures and re-inflate where necessary.
– Check aircon in case of any gas leakage and arrange re-gassing if needed.
– Inspect brakes, in particular disks for any surface damage. Check for any wheel cylinder leaks on drum brakes.
– Check under the bonnet in case of any damage from rodents.
– Re-fit your battery where applicable, and check voltage and connections.