If you’re like many California residents, you may count a boat or recreational vehicle (RV) among your biggest investments. Though these vehicles supply endless fun that more than covers their sizeable price tags, the truth is that most owners only use them every so often. Boat and RV owners know all too well that months or even years can go by while their prized investments sit idle. During these times, boats and RVs can deteriorate if not properly stored. The first step to successful storage? Preparation. In this guide, our team at Price Self Storage provides a wealth of tips from the industry’s top experts on how to prepare boats and RVs for long-term storage.

General Vehicle Storage Tips: How to Prepare Any Vehicle for Storage

Starting things off, there are a number of general storage steps every vehicle owner should take when moving any vehicle into long-term storage. No matter what type of vehicle you’re storing, following these preparation steps will help you keep your car, truck, boat, motorcycle, or RV in tip-top shape over its long stay in storage.

  • Wash and wax your vehicle. A dirty, unwaxed vehicle can attract dust, grime, and moisture. Lauren Fix, Founder of The Car Coach®, recommends washing your vehicle to discourage buildup and applying a layer of wax to protect the paint from moisture and other microbial damage.
  • Park your vehicle facing out of the garage. Sarah Lee Marks, President of MyCarlady.com, recommends parking your vehicle with the front facing out of the garage or storage space for easy jump-starting and quicker getaways in the event of an emergency.
  • Take care of your tires. Per the suggestions of both Fix and Marks, inflate your tires to maximum cold settings, move your vehicle every 2-3 months if possible, or jack it up if moving it isn’t possible to preserve the condition of your tires while your vehicle is in long-term storage.
  • Buy a trickle charger to save your battery. Fix and Marks also recommend buying trickle charger (or “battery tender”) to replenish your battery at the same rate it discharges. This will improve your battery’s lifespan and help ensure that it’s ready to go when you take your vehicle out of storage.
  • Invest in insurance. No matter where your vehicle is stored, accidents can still happen. Though unlikely, fire, theft, and other damages can befall vehicles in garages and storage spaces alike.  Sarah Lee Marks and Lauren Fix recommend investing in insurance that covers accidents while your vehicle is in storage. This storage can be purchased through most insurance providers and can, in some cases, be purchased directly from storage facilities themselves.

RV Storage Tips: Guidelines on Getting Your Recreational Vehicle Ready to Store

RVs are typically used seasonally, most frequently when the weather is nice. During the colder winter months, many of these large vehicles go into storage, where they can be parked with minimal risk of weathering, damage, and deterioration. If you are considering to move your RV into storage, prepare with the following — provided courtesy of Karl Copenhaver, RV expert and Managing Partner at Premier Coach Works.

  • Inflate your tires to maximum cold pressure and move your RV every 2-3 months. Inflating your tires will keep them from going flat while moving your RV regularly will help tires retain their shape and stop them from becoming oblong. Can’t move your RV?Invest in jacks to raise it off the ground.
  • Clean and check all seals. Seals that aren’t flush can let in moisture, dirt, and pests. Check all seals on your RV to ensure that they are watertight. If you find any that aren’t, use tape as a quick fix. Remove propane tanks and cap propane lines to keep them clean and clear of dirt, insects, and other debris.
  • Leave doors cabinets and drawers open. Leaving doors and cabinets open (and giving their interiors a thorough cleaning) will reduce the chances of mold, mildew, or pest infestation as leaving them ajar improves ventilation.
  • Charge batteries fully and disconnect them. Charge your batteries fully and then use a battery disconnect switch to ensure that they won’t die over long periods of time in storage. You can also invest in a battery tender to steadily replenish your battery and counteract discharge.

Take care of your tanks. Many RVs have both septic water tanks and freshwater tanks. To keep septic water tanks in working order throughout their time in storage, flush them out and then add ¼ of a tank of water back to keep them from drying out inside. For freshwater tanks, fill them fully with water plus ½ of a cup of bleach and run the solution through all of the pipes. This will disinfect your pipes and prevent mold or bacteria from growing.

Boat Storage Tips: Steps to Take When Preparing Your Boat for the Off-Season

As the colder, stormier months roll around, the bulk of boat owners put their vessels into storage until the warmer boating season. Storing a boat in a high-quality storage facility can preserve its condition and overall performance while freeing up space on the curb or in the garage. In areas where freezing temperatures occur, it’s important to take several steps to prepare your boat for long-term storage. Inadequate preparation can lead to damage from frozen water and other fluids. Prepare your boat for long-term storage with the following steps — provided by Peter Jensen Kurki, Commodore of Business Development and Yacht Broker with Bennett Brothers Yachts (BBY) in Wilmington, North Carolina.

  • Remove all fluids and replace them with a non-toxic antifreeze product to prevent fluid freezing, which can damage boat components.
  • Drain any showers or hose fittings that may hold water.
  • Invest in a small battery tender to ensure that your battery still takes a charge after months (or years) in storage.
  • Inspect and cover areas where water may pool in your boat.
  • Clear all weep holes of accumulation and debris.
  • Cover any exposed plastics that may be made brittle by the cold.
  • Always remove the transom plug.
  • Clear water from your boat’s bilge.
  • Secure all lines and fenders so that they do not freeze to the hull.
  • Remove all garbage, canned beverages, water bottles, and other containers that can hold liquid from your boat before putting it in long-term storage.

What About Motorbikes and ATVs?

Smaller recreational vehicles such as ATVs, motorcycles, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, and scooters often find their way into storage alongside larger seasonal vehicles. When preparing these vehicles for storage, owners should follow the same steps and guidelines as listed above. Other good tips are to invest in a quality fabric cover to keep out pests, dirt, and moisture, thoroughly clean and lubricate all moving parts, change the oil and drain fuel tanks, and clean the air filter.

Learn More and Book Boat and RV Storage With Us

To ensure that your RV or boat stays in great condition while in long-term storage, it’s always important to take proper preparation steps. If you want to learn more about how to properly prepare your RV or boat for long-term storage, our team at Price Self Storage is here to help. Contact us for more storage tips, and book long-term vehicle storage at one of our many Southern California locations today!