Winter Storage Tips for RVs, Boats and Vehicles

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How to Prepare your Vehicle, Boat and RV for Winter Storage

As the winter months approach, start to consider storage options for your car, RV, boat and other fuel-powered equipment. In many areas, vehicle storage spaces are in limited supply, so it's a great idea to secure storage in advance. Here are some tips to properly prepare your items for winter storage:

1. Clean your vehicle:

 Deep clean the vehicle inside and out before putting it away in storage. Make sure to clean the interior of the vehicle to remove all food and crumbs as these may attract unwanted pests. With an RV, you should defrost the freezer and clean out the fridge to prevent humidity and mildew. For extended storage periods, leave refrigerator and freezer doors slightly open to prevent unwanted odors. 

Prepare the exterior of your vehicle for storage. Things like water stains and bird droppings left on the vehicle while in storage can cause damage to your paint, so a thorough wash before storing the vehicle is important.

If you're looking for an extra layer of protection or if you're planning to have your vehicle in storage a bit longer, applying a coat of quality wax can help protect your vehicle's exterior while in storage. 

2. Fill up on fuel:

If you're expecting to keep your vehicle in storage for more than a few weeks, top it off with fuel to keep condensation from forming. When you're filling up the fuel tank, add a fuel stabilizer to the recommended dosage (the manufacturer's recommendations). Once the tank is full and the stabilizer has been added, let the vehicle run for a little bit to let the fuel and stabilizer mix together. Fuel stabilizer can prevent chemical break down over time and it helps minimize condensation. 

If your rig is equipped with an on-board generator, run the generator long enough for the fuel stabilizer to completely fill the system. Whenever possible, you should exercise the generator for at least 30 minutes, with a full load once a month. This monthly regiment will help maintain the life of the generator. (Consult your generator owner's manual for further information on this process).

3. Get an oil change and have the fluids topped off:

Over time, the oil in your vehicle starts to collect contaminants such as water and acids. If you let those contaminants sit in your engine over the winter months it could damage your engine.

Antifreeze (coolant) helps make sure the water in your vehicle that cools your engine does not get too hot or too cold. It's a good idea to make sure that your antifreeze is filled before putting it away for the winter so the water in your system doesn't freeze and cause further damage.

4. Keep your vehicle covered:

U-Haul offers uncovered, covered and enclosed vehicle storage units to fit motorcycles, cars, trucks, RVs, boats and other vehicles. If you reserve an uncovered vehicle storage unit, consider using a weatherproof car cover made of breathable material to keep your vehicle clean. A car cover will also keep the vehicle dry of rain, snow, sleet and hail. You can also shrink wrap your RVs and boats for extra protection from weather damage. Be sure to add ventilation to prevent moisture and mildew problems.

5. Cover and fill your tires: 

First, make sure that your tires are filled to the recommended tire pressure to help prevent flat spots from occurring. If your vehicle is parked in an uncovered storage space, cover the tires to protect them from sun damage. Place a block of wood or other chock block on either side of your tire to prevent any rolling or moving. Parking brakes may cause damage if stored long term as the cables may freeze over the winter months. 

6. Remove Propane:

Turn off your propane tank and remove the tank from the RV. Use caps for your propane lines to prevent dirt, insects and anything else from getting in. When removing the propane tank, make sure you store t in a well ventilated, dry area.

7. Animal-proof your vehicle:

Small animals such as mice, squirrels and snakes can damage cars, boats and RVs over the winter months. Your vehicle will provide a warm, dry home for these pests. Make sure to thoroughly inspect the outside of the vehicle before storing. 

Inspect your vehicle, boat or RV for any cracks, holes and openings a mouse might be able to fit through. The underside of an RV has several openings. Steel wool is a great way to plug these holes. Don't forget to seal the exhaust pipe with a cap or duct tape. 

8. Disconnect the battery:

Disconnect your battery so it doesn't die over the winter months while left unused. Charge it every so often so you're ready to go in the spring!

There are a few additional steps to take to store a boat that does not apply to cars:

  • Spray fogging oil on the engine to protect your engine's moving parts in the cold weather. 
  • Remove or loosen drive belts so that they do not crack or wear under the constant stress.

Find a vehicle storage location

U-Haul offers a variety of storage locations with enclosed, covered and uncovered storage options for your RV, boat or vehicle. Find a location near you.

There are many different types and brands of cars, boats and RVs out there. The manufacturers for each may have different storage procedures and recommendations. Always refer to the manufacturer's manual for specific storage recommendations.