The Comprehensive Guide to Car Storage

Classic Cars Restoration Worker Next to His Restored Vehicle.

Whether you’re looking for a temporary place to store your RV over the winter months or have a project vehicle that just doesn’t have space in your garage, there are many reasons to find and rent car storage near you. But if you’ve never stored your car or vehicle before, you may not know where to look, what to think about, and how much it will cost.

With our guide below, you’ll have a better idea of all those questions–and where to rent vehicle storage that matches what you need. 

Where to Store a Car

Broadly, there are three main types of car storage which apply to everything from your garage to a self storage unit. Those types of storage are:

  • Uncovered: Street parking, driveway parking, and uncovered self storage spaces. 
  • Covered: Carports, covered self storage spaces.
  • Indoor: Home garages, parking garages, drive-up indoor storage units. 

Uncovered spaces are generally the least expensive, while indoor spaces–especially indoor climate-controlled car storage–are the most expensive. Covered spaces are a middle ground that provides cost-effective protection, but are usually less common than either uncovered or indoor car storage. 

What Size Storage Unit Do I Need for My Car?

Most cars can fit in a 10×20 storage unit. However, don’t immediately pick the nearest 10×20 drive-up storage unit and assume you’re good to go. 

Marzton Martinez, General Manager at Compass Self Storage’s storage facility Fate, TX, on I-30, says that there are a few other things to consider. “Depending on the types of vehicle you’re looking to store, like trucks and large SUVs, they may not fit in a lot of your standard-sized storage units.” Why? The third dimension: height. “Our standard unit size is about eight feet on the inside, and so your doorways are only going to be about six and a half feet tall. So a large truck or SUV would not be able to squeeze into the enclosed units typically because of the height.” 

Even if a vehicle is able to fit in from a height perspective, you’ll need to consider width, too. Storage units are listed by interior dimensions and in feet, but storage unit doors are almost always less wide. Martinez explains: “If the interior of the unit’s 10 feet wide, your door is not going to be 10 feet. So the door on a 10 foot wide unit is usually about eight feet. Most storage unit doors are only about eight feet wide.”

Finally, you’ll need to consider one more thing: maneuverability. Martinez says that as long as you can drive your car or vehicle into the facility lot, you’ll likely be able to get it into and out of the storage space of your choice without issues. If you’re towing a nonfunctional vehicle, though, that’s usually where you run into issues where it’s difficult to get your car into your unit. 

All in all, it’s important to contact your storage facility with any questions about whether or not your vehicle will fit in your desired unit. 

Car Storage Prices

The national average price for a 10×20 storage unit is about $150 per month. Uncovered vehicle parking spaces can be sometimes had as cheaply as $50 per month. However, car storage prices can range widely from area to area and even between storage facilities within an area. Research car storage near you for the most accurate and up-to-date prices, which can change even from month-to-month. 

How to Store a Vehicle

A car covered in black plastic

Once you’ve found a place to store your car, it’s important to prepare your vehicle for storage. It’s an important step and one that can help save you time (and potentially money) down the line. If you’re just storing your car for a month, you don’t need to take any significant steps. But the longer you store your car, the more things you’ll have to consider. 

Preparing Your Car for Long-Term Storage

If you’re wondering how long a car can sit without being driven, you’re not alone. Fortunately, it’s a pretty easy answer: cars and vehicles can sit for months before they encounter any issues that arise from being stored and not driven. Scott Weinschreider, owner of Wayne’s Auto Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, provided some tips on what to focus on to keep your car in tip-top shape for long-term car storage:

  • Drive your car occasionally. “If you can drive your car once a week, once every other week, that’s good for it,” Weinschreider says. It’ll help keep your battery charged, avoid damaging brake rotors, and help the tires not develop flat spots. 
  • Visually inspect your car beforehand. The biggest mechanical risk to long term-car storage is rust. “A lot of times damage comes from rust, like in a brake line or the fuel lines,” says Weinschreider. Identifying the early signs of rust or other issues can help you avoid a surprise down the road after months of exposure to dust and other elements.. 
  • Think about emptying the gas tank. Gas eventually goes bad, as anybody who has tried to start their lawn mower in early spring can attest. Rather than putting in stabilizer in your tank, Weinschreider suggests running your car until it’s mostly empty before storing it–then, you can simply add new fuel. 

Do I Need Insurance On a Stored Car? 

Cars are some of the most valuable items that people tend to store at a self storage facility, and they’re also items that require an unusual amount of documentation to be operated and stored properly. In short, yes, you do need your car to be insured–but not for the reason you might think.

Most storage facilities, like those here at Compass Self Storage, require storage insurance for belongings in your storage unit, and this is true if you’re storing a car or a toy model of a car. Many renter’s and homeowner’s insurance policies cover storage units, but most facilities offer insurance through an affiliate if you choose not to or cannot use your pre-existing insurance. 

However, not all renter’s or homeowner’s insurance policies will cover a vehicle, and so you may have to have comprehensive vehicle insurance to cover your car. This isn’t usually an issue unless your car is inoperable and you don’t already have vehicle insurance for when it’s on the road. 

Finally, most storage facilities require title and registration for every vehicle stored at the property. This is to help ensure that no stolen vehicles are on the premises and that all vehicles are legal. 

Special Considerations for RV Storage

If you’re storing an RV, there are other considerations you’ll have to think through. Most RVs are too big for indoor storage units, so you must usually rent outdoor storage. But as all RV owners know, just finding a place isn’t enough–there’s sewage and water and electrical to consider. 

If you’re looking for anything more than a place to store your RV in the offseason, you’ll need to look specifically at an RV park, Martinez says. “Most storage facilities don’t offer 30 or 50 amp electrical for RV hookups. A lot of RV parks have sewage, too, whereas for self storage, we don’t have water or sewer connections.” 

Still, there are advantages to renting an RV storage space at a self storage facility. Self storage is generally cheaper than a monthly spot at a full-blown RV park, and it’s an especially economical option for smaller RVs or trailers without water or sewage. 

Find Vehicle Storage Near You Today

When you’re ready to store your car or RV, Compass Self Storage has the RV and vehicle storage options you need. With over 100 storage facilities across the country, Compass has a wide range of uncovered, covered, and indoor drive-up storage options. We even have select facilities with climate-controlled storage units for the best vehicle storage. 

Find a Compass storage facility near you and contact our friendly staff or rent your unit online today!