We recently published a piece on tips to prepare your car for long-term storage. Just to recap:
- Give it a good clean: Thoroughly cleaning your car ensures that dirt and grime does not precipitate and damage the paint surface - a coat of wax is an advisable additional measure. Cleaning and vacuuming the interior prevents odours or stains from developing.
- Disconnect the battery: Disconnecting the battery prevents unnecessary discharge when the car's not in use. Note though that your car's anti-theft system won't work, so make sure the car is secure or additional safeguards (such as steering lock) are in place. If you do not want to disconnect the battery, consider getting a trickle charger.
- Brimming the fuel tank: A full tank of fuel leaves less space for moisture and condensation in the fuel tank, something you don't want.
- Release the parking brake: Disengaging the parking brake ensures the brake shoes don't bind to the brake disc/drum after some time. Ensure you place bricks or tyre blocks to secure the car in place.
- Move the car if possible: No need to take it for a long a drive, but moving the car at least 100-200 meters (biweekly) will ensure the tyres don't develop flat spots from sitting in one position for elongated periods.
But what if you had a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle, are there any additional steps? Will the car just die once the hybrid battery depletes itself? Will the plethora of sensors go wonky once in slumber? Does a hybrid have a different starting procedure?
Fret not, carmakers have taken all these into account when designing the vehicle but these are some additional measures you can take when storing your hybrid vehicle.
First, understand that most, if not all hybrid vehicles have two batteries - a conventional 12V battery for the accessories (such as the headlamps and audio system), and the larger high-voltage hybrid system battery which supplies the power to start the combustion engine and drive the electric motors.
Charge up the hybrid battery
It is important to note that it's the high-voltage battery that "starts the car". So keep it charged before you prepare your car for long term storage. Toyota recommends simply starting the car, and leaving it in its "Ready" mode, at some point the combustion engine will startup to recharge the battery.
Leave for about 60 minutes (or until the hybrid battery is topped off) before switching it off again and repeat the process at least once a week for adequate charge storage.
Volvo, on the other hand, advises that its T8 Twin Engine hybrids are stored with a battery charge of approximately 25 percent.
If the state of charge is high – run the car (using appropriate drivetrain modes) until approximately 25 percent remains. If the state of charge is low – charge the battery until a level of circa 25 percent is reached. Volvo claims that a 25 percent charge is sufficient to compensate for the natural self-discharge that occurs during prolonged storage.
Storage charge might vary depending on make and model so its best to check with your car's manual.
Cars with Start/ Stop systems
If your vehicle is equipped with a Start/ Stop system that isn’t operated for a long time, a battery-saving function will automatically be activated to prevent the electronic key battery and the 12-volt battery from being discharged.
Battery depletion in the key is minimised by stopping the electronic key from receiving radio waves. On many models equipped with this system, it is possible to manually put the key into battery-saving mode - check with your car's manual.
Once your car is stored, store the car's smart key as well in an isolated place. This will prevent the key from "waking up" the car unnecessarily should you happen to walk near it with the key.
Store your car in a cool place
Conventional and hybrid batteries are happiest in ambient temperatures around 20-25 degrees. Any higher or lower and the chemical reactions within the battery either decrease or increase respectively which can affect battery performance and degradation.
Therefore, it is ideal to store your hybrid vehicle in a covered location for long term storage. For those without covered car parks, consider getting a good quality car cover to protect your vehicle.