Owning a classic car is a rewarding experience, but it’s not without its difficulties. For one, there’s maintenance and upkeep, the cost of which can reach into the stratosphere for some collector cars. Then there’s the issue of classic car storage, especially if you live in a part of the world with legitimate winter weather. Even if you don’t get to experience the joys of a sub-zero winter, there will probably come a time when having a vehicle parked in your garage or driveway just isn’t practical or convenient.
When you find yourself in this predicament, you have a few different options. You can just leave the car parked where it is and deal with any inconveniences (a life in denial). You can sell the car (a life of no fun). Or you can put the car in storage, the option that allows you to keep the car while getting it out of the way for a while. The best option is clear, so we’re here to help you find the best classic car storage solution for your needs.
How To Find The Best Classic Car Storage Facility
The good news is that there are vehicle storage facilities in all 50 states, but not all car storage businesses are created equal. Depending on your needs, there are a few things to keep in mind as you shop around for collector car storage near you.
Different facilities offer different services, so it’s important to review the offerings of each one to determine which one best meets your needs. You can hit Google for a list of closeby facilities, but from there it’s up to you to find the best classic car storage for you — and your car. In general, there are a few factors to consider.
The age, condition, and value of your car should help guide your decision on how it gets parked while in storage. Most facilities offer at least a few options that include outdoor parking, covered outdoor parking, indoor storage, and climate-controlled indoor storage.
If your car isn’t a priceless work of art or you drive it frequently, you may want to opt for outdoor storage for easier access and a lower cost. For example, a classic Ferrari would be a great candidate for indoor storage, while a regularly used Corvette or classic Camaro might not. The lower price and convenience of outdoor storage makes this a good choice for more common classic cars whose price tag might not rival that of a Ferrari.
Of course, if you do have a priceless work of art, you can opt for the top-of-the-line treatment with climate-controlled indoor parking to keep the temperature and the humidity just right.
Another factor you will want to consider is how the facility is monitored. If not by a human security guard, how robust is the security system? Again, this decision should be driven by the value you place on your car. If you have an extremely valuable or rare car you might want additional security measures. Other classic cars might be fine in a lot with a few security cameras.
Many storage facilities also offer member services similar to those offered by private country clubs. The Portland Motor Club in Portland, Maine offers a conference room for members, along with a snack and beverage bar, tire pressure monitoring and adjustment, and access to special car club meetings.
West Side Collector Car Storage in Los Angeles, California caters to clients across the country by offering transportation, tuning/maintenance, and cleaning services. Whether or not those services are of value to you will depend — again — on the type of classic car you have and the value you place on it.
Unless you live in an industrial area, you’re unlikely to find classic car storage right in your neighborhood, but choosing a storage facility that is too far out of the way can end up being a bigger pain than it’s worth.
Even if the facility offers a valet or transportation service, you’re not going to want to spend an hour to travel each way just to reach your car. Decide how far away you are willing to drive and consider how frequently you plan to visit the storage facility when determining an ideal location.
HomeAdvisor estimates that the costs to store a car can range between $45 and $450 per month. That huge price range is due to the fact that there are several options for vehicle storage, with the most elaborate and secure storage units costing the most. Motor clubs and club-like facilities can cost thousands per year, but provide much broader service than a simple storage unit.
Prepare Your Car For Storage
Before you can park your car anywhere for an extended period of time, you’ll want to take a few steps to prepare it for hibernation:
1. Clean The Vehicle
Washing your car isn’t just for showing off on the weekends, it can actually help keep your car in good condition while in storage. Parking a dirty car for an extended period of time can lead to paint damage, especially if there are dried bird droppings or smashed bugs left on the paint.
Take the time to thoroughly wash the exterior of your car to make sure there’s nothing left on the paint that could cause damage in storage. You should also vacuum the inside and remove any trash. There’s nothing worse than opening the door of a car that has been sealed up for months with smelly stuff inside.
2. Mind The Fluids
Change the oil, check the brake fluid, and make sure to top off other fluids before storage. Used or dirty fluids sometimes contain dirt and debris that can damage the engine and other components if left in place for long periods of time.
This tip also applies to fuel. Fill the tank if you’ll be leaving the vehicle in storage for 30 days or longer. Moisture can accumulate in the fuel tank of a car in storage, but the accumulation is less with a full fuel tank. If your car is being stored for extended periods of time — six months or more — you should make the small investment in a fuel stabilizer that can be poured right into the tank.
3. Charge The Battery
Depending on the facility, you may have access to a trickle charger or on-site charger, but if not, it’s worth investigating in one. Having someone start the car every couple of weeks will help keep the battery charged, but you’ll rest easier knowing your classic car is parked happily on a battery tender. If possible, if you have someone starting your car every couple of weeks for the battery and to circulate fluids, have that same person run the air conditioner occasionally to help keep the climate system fresh.
(Images courtesy of West Side Collector Car Storage)