Storing and Maintaining Your Car Collection

Whether you are a car enthusiast with dozens of collectible vehicles or you are a novice who has recently purchased your first vintage dream, finding the right storage for your collection is a must.

While there are countless options for storing your car at a dedicated facility, many car collectors are turning to at-home storage. The reasons are simple. Storing your car collection at home allows you to access it anytime you want. For those who like to tinker on their vintage vehicles, this is especially beneficial. Not only that, but the whole reason you own a collectible car is to enjoy the beauty of the vehicle. Having your collection at home allows you to show off your beautiful cars any time you want.

If you are going to store your car collection at home, there are a few key items to consider. First, you will need to think about where you will store the collection. Next, you’ll want to consider protection against the elements in your area. Finally, you will need to perform a few tasks to prepare vehicles for storage.

Where to Store Your Car Collection

If you’ve decided that home storage is the right fit for you, the first step will be to find the right area to store your cars. Ideally, you will want to invest in a garage space that is large enough to store your collection. Keeping your cars protected against the elements in a garage is particularly important for older vehicles, which are already susceptible to wear and tear. Additionally, many car collectors invest in premium paint jobs as they restore vehicles to their former glory. A garage will ensure that the sun does not damage fresh paint or refurbished interiors.

If you do have garage space for your collection, you will also want to take the time to ensure that the garage has the right levels of heat and humidity. Too much heat and moisture levels that are too high can cause serious damage to your cars even when they are behind closed doors.

Purchase an electronic thermometer that measures and monitors the temperature and humidity of your garage. Aim for an average interior temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit paired with a relative humidity of around 45%. While it is fine for the temperature and humidity to vary a little, you want to avoid extreme swings. Extremely dry air can cause cracking to your car’s interior and high moisture levels can lead to mold or mildew. Ensuring an even range of moisture levels will provide the safest environment for your vehicles.

Controlling the temperature and humidity can be accomplished in any garage. Depending on the climate where you reside you may need to invest in a heating or cooling system paired with a humidifier or dehumidifier.

Finally, when considering the right storage space for your collection, think through the usability of the area as well. Do you plan to work on your vehicles? If so, be sure you plan for enough room between vehicles to be able to perform work without damaging another nearby car. Invest in a quality storage space for tools and parts. An organized space will help keep the area clean and free of debris.

Protecting Against the Elements

Depending on where you live, your car collection will constantly be at risk of being damaged by the elements. While storing your vehicles in a climate- controlled garage will help, any time your vehicle leaves the bay, they will be susceptible to damage.

For those who own a car collection near the coast, salt content and high humidity levels in the air are a big concern. Corrosion happens much faster when living by the ocean. This can be prevented through regular cleaning and maintenance. Additionally, when storing a vehicle in an area with high salt content in the air, spray down hood latches and door hinges with white lithium grease. Use silicone spray or Teflon lube on weather stripping to keep these from sticking to the doors and trunk lids during storage. No matter where you live, whether beachside or inland, make it a habit to routinely inspect your car collection for early signs of trouble. Catching a small chip in the paint early on can mean the difference between a five-minute touch-up or a costly rust issue.

Preparing Your Car’s for Storage

Once you have the right space in mind for your car collection and you have prepared for any additional elements in your area, you should ensure your vehicles are storage ready. Collecting cars involves more than simply driving a car into your garage and parking it for long periods of time. Like any item, when a car simply sits unused, there is a risk of deterioration. The following list can help prevent common pitfalls of stationary cars.

Top Off the Gas

Partially empty gas tanks can allow for moisture build- up which leads to corrosion. Protect your vehicle’s tank by topping it off with gas.

Utilize a Battery Maintainer

A battery maintainer will help to extend the life of your battery by offering small amounts of electricity to your vehicle’s battery while unused. If you will be leaving a vehicle in your car collection sitting for any long period of time, connect the battery maintainer and set the right voltage and battery type.

Change the Oil

While you might not plan on taking your car collection for a spin, having fresh oil in the vehicle will keep all necessary parts lubricated. Old oil can lead to long- term damage. Be sure that if you store your car for long periods of time, you continue to swap out old oil for new.

Clean the Car

Never store a car that is dirty. Even if the vehicle is still in the project stages, keep the exterior and interior as clean as possible. Dirt and grime can lead to quicker deterioration of the vehicle’s paint job. For those living by the ocean, this is even more important. Make sure salt from the air is not adhering to your vehicle’s exterior. This can lead to corrosion and rust.

Put on Jacks

Another risk to vehicles that sit unused is damage to the tires. Utilize jacks or car lifts to keep your wheels off the ground. Not only will this prevent your tires from going flat, but it will also offer protection to your car’s suspension.

The Costs of Owning a Car Collection

Outside of the initial cost of purchasing your car collection, there are a few other associated costs to consider. When storing your collection at your home, you avoid the expense of storage fees often associated with car collections. However, the following are all a few other costs to keep in mind as you expand your collection:

• The cost of building out your storage space: Depending on whether or not you already have a garage large enough for your car collection, or if you will need to start from scratch, one of the largest costs you will encounter is the cost of building out your storage space. This will also include any work that you need to be done to ensure the area can be kept at the right temperature and humidity.
• The cost of climate control: For those who live in a temperate climate, the cost of keeping a car collection the right temperature might not be that high. However, for those who face extreme heat or cold, climate control can be a costlier affair. It is also important to keep in mind that humidity control is a factor in protecting your valuable cars.
• The cost of normal car maintenance: While you might not be driving your vintage Ferrari down the road anytime soon, you will still need to factor in the cost of normal car maintenance. Over time, even without use, batteries will need to be replaced, oil has to be changed and parts will deteriorate.

Storing and maintaining your car collection at home can be a wonderful experience. Easy access to the vehicles you love offers added enjoyment to your daily life. By following the right tips, your at-home collection can remain safe and protected.

Coastal Life Magazine is the ultimate guide to Relocating and Living throughout Orange County. To view the full publication, click here.

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