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 boat and vehicle 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. We recommend 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. When storing your vehicle over a long period of time without proper battery maintenance, it can shorten your battery lifespan. Experts recommend parking your vehicle with the front facing out of the garage or storage space for easy jump-starting.
  • Take care of your tires. Some tips are to 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. We 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 a protection plan. 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. We recommend investing in a protection plan to allow you peace of mind while your vehicle is in storage. Protection plans are typically offered by storage facilities themselves, or through most insurance providers.

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:

  • 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 or mildew and 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: How to Store Your Boat for Winter

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.

There are a few storage options when it comes to storing your boat. Your boat storage options are: 

Indoor Self Storage

A self storage facility is a great option when storing your boat for the winter. Facilities offer amenities such as drive up access, which makes it very easy to pick up and drop off your boat. Want to quickly grab some fishing gear out of your boat? With a self storage unit, you have access to come and go as you please. Find the nearest boat storage facility near you.

Outdoor Storage

You have the option to store your boat on a trailer in your driveway or alongside your house, although it’s important to note that an HOA may not allow this. While this is the most affordable method, extra precautions have to take place to ensure your boat is protected when exposed to the outside elements. A boat cover is absolutely needed to protect your boat from sun damage. Furthermore, storing your boat outside leaves it vulnerable to vandals, thieves and pests.

Marina Storage

Storing your boat in a marina, also known as wet storage, is the most convenient option for storing your boat. Having a boat in a marina means you don’t have to worry about a boat trailer and transferring it in and out of the water. Wet storage is best for those who live in an area with warmer weather, where the temperature doesn’t fall below freezing. To store your boat in a marina, you will need to pay a slip free, which is a monthly payment similar to renting. One main issue with marina storage is your boat is always in constant contact with the water, which allows aquatics pests such as algae and barnacles to attach to your boat and will damage the hull of the boat if not regularly maintained.

Once you have decided which storage method is best for you, the following steps will teach you how to prepare your boat for long-term storage.

Prepare your boat for long-term storage with the following steps:

  • 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.

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 California locations today!