People need car storage in a variety of situations – you might be living in a big city where you use your car only occasionally, you might own a car you don’t currently use, but you’ll need in the future or you might even collect classic cars. People turning to the digital nomad lifestyle typically use self storage for their cars and other belongings as well. Regardless of why you might need to use car storage services, here are the most important things to know about this service:

Types of car storage available

There are three types of car storage spaces generally available at self storage facilities: uncovered parking spaces, covered parking spaces, and indoor self storage units.

Uncovered parking spaces are a great option for people who need to put their car in storage short-term or for those living in climates where snow and frost are not an issue. Using this type of storage makes it easier for you to take your car in and out of the storage facility since you don’t have to maneuver it out of the storage unit. A covered parking space is a good idea if you’re storing your car in an area where it frequently rains and/or snows.

If you’re storing your car long-term, or if you intend to store a classic car, an indoor self storage unit is probably the best choice. Your car will be protected from the elements, and you won’t have to worry about potential damages, even if you are away and can’t drop by the storage facility regularly to check up on things.

A 10×20 storage unit is the right size for people interested in car storage – it’s about the same size as a standard one-car garage, which means you’ll have some extra space left for a few boxes of extra belongings as well. Most self storage facilities feature this unit size, as it’s among the popular ones with consumers. The national average for renting a 10×20 unit stands at over $200 per month, according to Yardi Matrix data – however, costs can vary significantly depending on location, so you need to look at prices in your area.

Check out self storage availability and costs in some of the country’s major cities:

Prepare your car for storage

Once you decide on the type of unit or parking space you are getting for your car, you also need to decide whether you are going to have the car shipped to the storage facility or drive it to the storage facility yourself.  Then, you must carefully prepare your car for storage – particularly when it comes to long-term storage.

If you’re planning to retrieve your car and use it from time to time while it’s in storage (a couple of times per month or so), there’s no need for a lot of preparations. Just make sure that the car has fuel, top off the oil, and use a car cover if you’re keeping it in an uncovered parking space.

However, if you’re storing your car long-term and you won’t be starting the engine or checking up on the car for months on end, it’s important that you do some preparation work beforehand:

  • Give your car a full clean, inside and out, including the undercarriage. If you don’t have a car jack to lift your car and a pressure washer to clean the undercarriage properly, take your car to a professional car wash where they can do the job correctly.

  • Inflate the tires, and you should even over-inflate them a little bit. While in storage, particularly long-term storage, tires tend to lose pressure, and you don’t want to discover your car has a flat tire when you go to take it out of storage.
  • Top off fuel and oil. This protects the engine and the tank over time. Also, if you’re not going to be able to go to the unit for several months, it’s a good idea to add a fuel stabilizer to the tank.
  • To protect the car’s battery, you should disconnect it and reconnect and start the engine every few weeks. If you will be traveling or otherwise unable to drop by the unit from time to time, be prepared for a potentially discharged car battery. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for that, so it’s not a huge problem, but you should have a jump starter on you when you pick up your car. Alternatively, you could use a battery maintainer, but you need a storage unit with an outlet, so ask the storage facility for a unit that ensures outlet access.
  • Wrap the wiper blades with plastic to prevent them from sticking to your windshield.
  • Depending on your car’s condition, it might be a good idea to take it to the mechanic for a checkup before putting it in long-term storage.
  • Cover your car if you’re storing it long term, even if it’s an indoor unit. You can buy a special car cover from a store, or you can use old sheets and linens. This will keep your car nice and clean throughout the entire period.

Car storage is a useful solution for car owners, helping them keep their vehicles safe long term. Whether you own a vehicle you’re not using at the moment or are preparing to travel abroad for a longer period of time, you should consider this versatile and affordable storage solution for your vehicle.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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