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Winter is fast approaching, which means it’s time to get those cars ready for storage. But when it comes to car storage, it can get pretty expensive. Here’s how to save money and safely store your car outside this winter.

What is the best surface to store a car outside?

To prevent sinking, a paved or gravel driveway is the best surface to store a car outside. Grass and sand are best avoided, as wet and freezing ground will cause sinking in short order.

No matter the surface, the first thing you want to do when storing your car outside in winter is to get it off the ground. The icy cold temperatures are hard on your tires, no matter what. Having the weight of your car on top of them is even worse. Tire deformation will make the car dangerous to drive in the spring, and can even make it difficult to move.

Furthermore, the suspension can settle during those long months of winter storage. Just like your joints when you sit or stand for too long, spending so much time immobile is bad for your car’s suspension. Getting it off the ground reduces the stress, keeping your shocks, springs, and steering components happy for your spring drives.

Protect your car from animal intrusion

Animals will scramble to take refuge from harsh winter weather, and your stored car is a perfect hiding spot. Using steel wool, block off the intake and exhaust to help prevent animals from easily making a home in your car. You can also add sonic repellents, mothballs, and rodent repellent sprays to further protect your vehicle from unwanted guests.

Apply paint protection before safely storing your car outside this winter

Keeping a car safely store your car outside in winter
Applying paint protection | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Outdoor car storage during winter means protecting its finish from the elements. A car cover is a good place to start, but it isn’t an all-encompassing solution. You’ll want to add some level of on-car paint protection as well.

Car covers can tear, blow away, and even trap debris. As such, a ceramic coating or good coat of wax acts as an extra protective step. This will not only make your car shine, but can protect your clear coat against chemical etching from trapped leaves, water spots, and more.

Refresh suspension and steering parts to maintain a car that is kept outside

Or anything that needs grease, really. Storing a car safely in winter is about prevention as much as anything. And those months of stagnation can do a number on parts that are used to moving on a regular basis.

The cold temperatures can dry up fittings, bearings, and bushings, as both movement and heat help keep them lubricated. Applying some fresh grease to these areas before storage adds an extra layer of protection to see them through the months of outdoor storage.

Take care of these fluids before your car goes into winter storage

A fresh oil change is always step one before your car goes into winter storage. In addition, top off or refresh the coolant to ensure no critical components freeze up while your car is sitting outside this winter. Finally, add fuel stabilizer to a full tank of gas to protect your fuel tank and lines, and ensure a clean burn when you start the car next spring.

Safely store your car outside this winter with these tips

The expense of professional car storage isn’t for everyone, making outdoor winter car storage a popular option. If you fall into this category, these tips can help you safely store your car outside this winter, so you can jump in and enjoy a nice spring drive as soon as the weather warms up. And when spring does arrive, check out our guide to prepping your car for its first drive after coming out of storage.