What You Need to Know About Storing a Vehicle in Self Storage

Jon Fesmire |

Do you have a car you need to put in storage? Perhaps you’ve had to leave an extra car with a relative for a while and you don’t like the idea of it remaining on the street, or maybe you’re going off to college and need a place to store your car until you come home for the summer.

Chances are you’ll find lots of facilities near you that specialize in vehicle storage. They often advertise as having boat and RV storage, but of course, you can also store jet skis, cars, motorcycles, and more.

We recommend looking into these facilities first. They’ll have a lot of knowledge about properly storing vehicles. They may have outdoor spots, partially covered spaces, indoor storage, or all three. However, most facilities will allow you to store a car in a drive-up unit.

Here are the details.

The Advantages of a Unit

An enclosed self storage unit offers better protection against the elements than parking your car in an outdoor space. If you plan to store your vehicle during the warm season for two or three months, with a correctly sized cover, then an outdoor parking spot is fine. If you plan to store it for longer or during the colder months, we recommend using a drive-up unit.

Unit Sizes

The most common unit size for car storage is 10’x20’. That’s a 10’ wide entrance and 20’ long, and it’s ideal for most sedans and other mid-sized vehicles. If you have a compact car, an 8’x15’ unit, meaning 8’ wide by 15’ long, might be large enough. You want some room on either side of the vehicle so you can move around it.

Will the Facility Allow You to Store Your Car?

There are some legal issues with storing your car in a storage unit, and the facility will enforce them. The vehicle either has to be in running order. Since we doubt most of you plan to store a trailer along with the car, make sure the car has undergone maintenance and is in driving condition.

The car also must have a current registration. We know this can be frustrating. You may want to store a car because you don’t plan to drive it and, therefore, you may feel you shouldn’t have to register it. However, those are the rules. Consider that you should take the car out for a spin every two months to keep its systems running. To do that, you need to have it registered.

Depending on the state, the law may require you to pay a car tax every month for keeping it in storage. The facility will know the details.

We recently covered how to store a classic car, and the same basic steps for getting such a vehicle ready for storage apply to other cars.

A Note About Convertibles

Convertibles can be a joy to drive, feeling the wind whipping past you, enjoying the fresh air as you drive. However, when you store your convertible, shut the top. Close the windows and vents, too. If you miss these steps, you may find unsightly creases in the foldable top when you pick up your car.

Maintaining Your Car

Most facilities prohibit working on your car inside your storage unit. The facility doesn’t want to deal with spills, loud noises, odors, and so on. Get maintenance done on the vehicle before you store it. If, while it’s in storage, your car needs additional work, bring it to a mechanic, have the work done, then return it to your unit.

While there are rules and regulations to follow when you store your car in a self storage unit, we hope you also appreciate the benefits. When you have questions, ask your storage manager. They’ll be happy to help you.