What is car storage and when can it help?
Car storage is a type of self storage service that allows you to keep your vehicle stored away from home when you're not using it. There are many circumstances which might drive you towards self storage, from not having a designated parking spot to lack of garage space, especially if you own more than one car. Or maybe you are a collector of classic cars or you are planning to travel overseas. These are all cases when self storage is the easy way out.
Turning to car storage is a great option to keep your car safe, well protected from the elements and in good condition until you need to use it again.
Types of car storage
It's important to choose the right type of car storage for your needs. Below, we'll walk you through the most common types of storage for your vehicle.
This is typically an open area within the perimeter of a storage facility. There are two types of outdoor storage, as follows:
Open car storage
Open car storage is dedicated outdoor space at a storage facility and is often the most affordable storage option. It basically provides you with a parking spot where you can keep your car within the confines of the storage facility. These areas can be gravel, grass or paved. Since the car is exposed to the elements, you should consider getting a car cover to protect it from rain, snow, sun and so on. One great advantage is that it provides drive-up access, allowing you to easily leave your car on the premises.
Covered car storage
With covered car storage, your car still sits outside but under a canopy. It is a little more expensive than the uncovered version but provides a more sheltered alternative. It's an excellent option if you want to store your car outdoors but wish to offer it some sort of protection from exposure to direct sunlight, wind, rain and the rest.
Consider this type of car storage if you live in a warm climate with low humidity and mild winters or if you're looking to store your car short-term.
Some facilities offer indoor or enclosed vehicle storage where cars and other types of vehicles sit in an enclosed space inside the facility. They could be individual units or a larger warehouse-style open floorplan where cars can be parked. This type of car storage offers maximum shelter against nature's harmful elements.
Some facilities offer climate-controlled car storage, for added protection against extreme temperatures and humidity. This can be a great option for long-term car storage, with classic cars and sports cars being some of the best candidates for this type of service.
Unit sizes for car storage
While the standard car storage unit is 10'x20', which unit size is best suited for your needs ultimately depends on your vehicle type. Here are the most common car sizes and the best types of storage units to house them:
Compact cars (10'x15' units)
If you own a compact car, a 10'x15' unit might just be the right fit for it. Make sure you measure your vehicle before taking it to your unit. Cars such as Mini Cooper (12.6 ft.), Honda Fit (13.3 ft.) or Toyota Corolla (14.2 ft.) could get into a 10'x15' unit. Do not hesitate to upgrade to a larger unit if your car seems to be a tight squeeze in this unit size.
Standard cars (10'x20' units)
Standard cars such as sedans, minivans, crossovers, pickup trucks and SUVs can best fit inside a 10'x20' unit. For instance, a crossover Nissan Rouge has a length of 15.4 ft., a Ford Explorer is 16.5 ft. and Toyota Tundra (pickup truck) is about 19 ft., leaving you enough to park inside a 10'x20' unit.
Large cars (10'x30' units)
For pickup trucks with large cabs or commercial cargo vans you need a roomier unit, and a 10'x30' is often the right size to accommodate these vehicles. If, for example, you own a Chevrolet Express (20.3 ft.), a Ford F-350 (22 ft.) or a GMC Sierra 3500 (21.5 ft.), this unit size is ideal for keeping them in storage.
Car storage rates
The average cost of storing a car in the US is $162 per month. It can get as low as $15 in Brooklyn Center, MN and as high as $746 in Columbus, GA.
Naturally, the actual cost of putting your car in storage will depend on various factors including location, the unit size you need to accommodate your vehicle, and the amenities the space and the facility comes with. If you're using a climate-controlled unit, for example, your rates will be higher, but it's usually recommended for a valuable vehicle to make sure it doesn't get damaged while it's away from home.
How to find car storage units
Whether you need short-term or long-term storage for your car, you can peruse StorageCafe's location-specific listings to find the best options for you. Simply choose the place you're most interested in and explore results in any city of your choosing and in nearby areas. You can easily compare prices and amenities to make sure you've found the best storage space for your vehicle.
Car storage by the numbers
3,144Facilities offering car storage
10'x20'Most common unit size for car storage
200K+Monthly Google searches for vehicle storage
253MVehicles registered in 2020, - 0.3% Y-o-Y
~117MHouseholds with a vehicle in 2021
Frequently asked questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about putting your car in storage to help you find the right storage options for your needs:
What is the best place to store a car away from home?
Whether you need short-term or long-term storage, putting your car in a storage unit is often ideal. Some car storage units come with climate control, offering optimal humidity and temperature conditions so that your vehicle stays undamaged while in storage.
What does car storage involve?
When a vehicle is in storage, it sits in a unit until you are ready to use it again. To reserve your spot, most leases are for a minimum period of one month, but most people rent self storage for several months at a time. If you're planning on storing a vehicle long-term, make sure to go for a climate-controlled unit.
What size storage do I need for a car?
The unit size you need will depend on the size of your car. Standard cars can fit in a 10'x20' unit, but if you own a larger vehicle such as a pickup truck, you should consider a 10'x30' unit.
Will a car fit in a 10'x20' storage unit?
A standard car such as an SUV or sedan can fit in a 10'x20' unit. You should also measure your vehicle, keeping in mind that the average maximum clearance is 7'8" high and 7'8" wide.
Is a 10'x10' storage unit big enough for a car?
A 10'x10' unit is too small to fit a standard car. It can, however, just fit a smart car, if you can get your hands on a used one as the "Smart" brand has been discontinued in the U.S. for the time being' If you're planning on storing one of these in a 10'x10' unit, measure your vehicle to make sure it can fit.
Is a 10'x15' storage unit big enough for a car?
A 10'x15' unit is too small for a standard car, for which a 10'x20' unit is recommended. However, a Honda Fit, a Mini Cooper and other models of compact car can fit inside this unit size. Check to see if you can upgrade to a larger size if this unit seems to be too tight a squeeze.
Can I work on a car in my storage unit?
Typically, self storage facilities do not allow you to carry out repairs on your car. If your car needs to be serviced, you should probably take it to a repair shop.
How do I prepare my car for long-term storage?
To safely store a car long-term in a storage unit, it must be prepared properly. Store your car with a full tank, disconnect the battery, change the oil and perform a routine overall check. Ideally, you should store it in an indoor unit, perhaps with climate-control, but if you're going for the outdoor option make sure to park it in a covered spot or at least get a weatherproof cover for it.
Should I store a car with a full tank of gas?
When putting your car in storage, fill the gas tank full to avoid any rust and condensation forming inside the tank due to the presence of air that contains moisture.
What does a storage facility require me to do when I put my car in storage?
Always check with your facility of choice to see what requirements they have. In general, the car needs to be registered and insured in your name. If you're going to put your vehicle into storage, you could save money by getting a temporary insurance policy on it.