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How To Keep Your Vehicles in Good Shape During Storage and Transportation

 Posted on: August 8th, 2023

You might think your vehicles are safer when they’re stored or in transit, but some risks come with all aspects of owning a unique car, motorcycle, or boat. Poor storage habits can actually cause your vehicles to age and create repair problems in the future. Unsafe transit practices can make your vehicle a road hazard — even if you aren’t driving it down the road.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much work to develop a checklist of safety and maintenance steps that can make it easier to move or store your vehicles. This is a great way to maximize their lifespan and make using them more enjoyable. Use this guide to audit your current habits and see how they can improve.

Preparing Vehicles for Storage

Whether you’re storing vehicles for a few weeks while traveling or for several months throughout the winter, it’s important to take steps to protect them while they aren’t in use. Without proper care, you could discover that your vehicles are starting to show wear because of poor storage conditions and you might even have to make repairs when it’s time to use them again.

The steps you take today can prepare your vehicles for immediate use the next time you want them. Here are some cleaning, maintenance, and protection considerations to keep in mind.


There’s one word that strikes fear in the hearts of millions of car, motorcycle, and boat owners: rust. Rust can eat through the exterior of your vehicle and get into your systems, rendering them unusable. Residents of winter climates will notice rusted-out cars caused by road salt while people who live near the ocean can see how salt water rusts out everything.

Rust is one of the most important reasons to thoroughly clean your vehicle when it’s not in use. It can be prevented by simply hosing down your boat after it has been in the water or washing your car (especially the underside) before storing it. Cleaning your vehicle can also help you clean off dead bugs, bird poop, and other stains that will be much harder to remove after they have set in.

Along with hosing off your car, check the paint and consider using a rust-prevention lubricant (like WD-40) to keep it in good condition. Also, make sure you clean the interior. No one wants to climb inside a car that smells like mildew or rotting food from a snack that was never thrown out.


If you plan to store your vehicle for a long period, run through a series of maintenance checks to make sure it will be in good condition when you use it again. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Top off your tank and consider using a fuel stabilizer.
  • Change the oil and top off your coolant as well. (Make sure the coolant mixture is right for freezing temperatures if you are storing your vehicle in a cool climate.)
  • Disconnect the battery.
  • Fill the tires and stabilize them on insulation foam in the storage compartment.
  • Check for any known leaks and issues before storing.

If you're storing a motorcycle out of season, consider investing in a motorcycle lift table so you can complete these basic maintenance steps comfortably. Follow the safety best practices when using these tables to protect everyone involved. You can also bring your car to a mechanic to get it serviced before storing it.


After you clean your vehicle before storing it, consider either using wax or a dedicated sealant to protect it. Waxing your vehicle will make it shine for six to eight weeks (ideal for short-term storage) while a sealant can protect it from the effects of dust and oxidation for up to 12 months.

Investing in a cover is another great way to protect your vehicle during storage. Dust won’t be an issue and you won’t have to worry about any water or bugs getting to your vehicle. Look into motorcycle covers to get an idea of their price points.

Safe Transportation Practices

Transporting vehicles can pose a risk to the vehicle itself and the people around it. A poorly hitched trailer could detach or start swinging on the road, which makes driving near your car dangerous. You also don’t want your motorcycle to fall off of your trailer, which could cause thousands of dollars in damage while creating a road hazard.

These examples might seem like worst-case scenarios, but they are common accidents that occur every day. Here are a few best transportation practices to follow when bringing your vehicles along with you.

Proper Loading and Securing

There’s a science to properly loading your trailer and securing everything in place. Use this reference to make sure you’re loading up your vehicles properly.

  • Create a stable base for loading: Park your trailer on a flat surface that allows for little movement (like concrete). Use wheel chocks to keep your trailer in place.
  • Use the right trailers and hitches for your vehicles: For example, motorcycle carriers specify the maximum capacity so you don’t put two 400-pound bikes on a trailer that can only hold 600 pounds. Decide whether a hitch or a motorcycle trailer is better for your needs.
  • Invest in the right equipment to lift and lower your vehicles: Heavy lifting is a safety hazard that can harm you and damage your car, boat, or bike. Consider a shore docking system if you’re moving your boat in and out of the same water.
  • Load the heaviest items first: This isn’t an issue if you’re only transporting one item, but is something to keep in mind if you have multiple bikes.
  • Distribute the weight: Place 60% of the weight toward the front of the trailer and 40% toward the back. This creates a center of gravity and can prevent the weight from shifting.

When securing your items in the trailer, use plenty of straps to make sure they’re tight. It’s OK to have extra straps if you’re worried about securing your items. They’ll prevent your items from moving and keep the trailer stable.


If you’re worried about your vehicle being exposed to the elements during transit, consider investing in a secure cover or an enclosed trailer. Look for a cover specifically made for your vehicle. Anything too large or generically made might not fit or could create a safety hazard if it flies off while you’re driving. These covers can protect your vehicle from everything ranging from bird poop to rain and hail.

Another option is to avoid transporting your vehicle when there’s a threat of inclement weather. It will be harder to transport your car or boat through the rain or snow — especially if you’re driving on slippery mountain roads. Check the forecast and see if you can delay moving for a few hours or days, if necessary.

Once your vehicle is loaded, secured, and covered, you’re ready to hit the road. Provide one more check on your trailer and tow car to make sure everything is in good driving order (the wheels are inflated, you have enough gas), and then head out to your next destination.