Thinking of putting your summer vehicles away for the winter season?

Storing your vehicle for the winter season isn’t only for classic or luxury car owners. Maybe you drive a winter car and want to keep your newer car in good condition for the summer months. Maybe you are interested in saving on your car insurance premium, since you’re working from home more these days and barely drive. Shielding your car from the harsh Canadian winter has its advantages.

What many people fail to realize is the process takes a lot more than tossing a sheet over the car and putting it in the garage from November to March. From cleaning and detailing to checking fluids and power, there are certain steps you should take when storing and securing your vehicle. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re planning on putting your car in storage this winter.

Wash your car before storing
A hand washing is best because you’ll be able to clean your car more thoroughly. You’ll want to remove any sap, rain, salt, or other contaminants before covering up your car for months. Spray the underside as well. Be sure to allow time to air dry and apply a new coating of wax. In the spring when you unveil a shining car, you’ll be glad you took the extra time now to get it prepped and looking great.

Tire care
When you don’t use your tires, for an extended amount of time, they can get flat. Which is why it’s important to inflate your tires to the maximum before storing them away for the winter. Check that your tires are not punctured and don’t need replacing.

Invest in a good cover
A cover that’s made for your specific vehicle will fit better and help keep dust, dirt, and critters outside where they belong. A breathable fabric will allow any moisture that may be in the cracks and crevices to escape as it evaporates as well as any condensation due to temperature fluctuations.

Safeguard against critters
Bugs and mice and squirrels love nice cars almost as much as you do. These guys can make a real mess of things if they get into your car and their presence goes unnoticed. Consider putting down mousetraps under your car — but not in it — or if you’re not a mousetrap kind of person, you can use peppermint oil as a deterrent for rodents. Seal up the vents and windows and put steel wool in the tailpipe to keep bugs and other critters out.

Trickle charge the battery
Cold weather can be tough on a car battery, especially a battery that isn’t charged by the engine. There’s always a small draw from various electronics in modern cars as well. This power draw isn’t an issue if left overnight or even for a few days but after a few months, you can expect a dead battery if you don’t have your battery hooked up to a trickle charger. If a trickle charger isn’t an option, simply remove the battery and store it someplace warm.

Gas it up
It may seem counterintuitive to fuel up a car that will be sitting for months. Gasoline can break down over time, turning to varnish inside your tank. The solution is to add fuel stabilizer that helps keep your gas fresh over the winter months. The alternative would be to empty the tank before storage. However, this solution comes with some potential risks, such as an accumulation of moisture in the gas tank that can damage your car from the inside out.

Review your insurance coverage
If your car is only used occasionally, be sure to review your coverage with your broker. Collector cars, occasional-use cars, or high-value automobiles often have different insurance requirements than your average vehicle. You’ll want to be sure your vehicle is insured properly.