If you live in an apartment complex, it can severely impact working on your car if you don’t have a garage, as you are at the mercy of the weather, and parking restrictions. In addition, it isn’t possible to keep your car safe without added security. Thus, you may wonder, is it possible to store your car in vehicle storage units, and can you work on them there?
For any daily driver or auto enthusiast, having a dedicated garage space to work on your vehicle is a dream come true. An indoor car storage option like a rented garage provides shelter and security for your prized possession and the perfect automotive workshop to tackle anything from routine maintenance like an oil change or brake pads to major engine work or transmission jobs.
However, finding affordable garage rentals can be a challenge, especially for city dwellers or those living in apartments without access. This often leads resourceful DIY mechanics to ponder an intriguing possibility – could common storage space or car storage unit rented from a storage facility company effectively double as a DIY automotive workshop?
In our guide, you’ll explore the viability of using storage units for letting you work on cars. Included are the benefits of indoor vehicle storage, essential precautions like fire safety, and alternatives to storage units worth considering for your needs. By the end, whether you are a seasoned gearhead or you like tackling DIY tune-ups, you’ll find out if this type of storage offers a solution for your DIY auto repair. (Read Utility Company Destroyed My Yard)
How Can I Get My Car Ready For Long-Term Storage?
We advise washing and cleaning your car before storing it. To maintain your finish gleaming and well-protected, apply a fresh coat of wax. To prevent pests, vacuum every crumb as these attracts pests. Consider purchasing a car cover if you choose to reserve one of our uncovered spots. Car covers can give additional UV and weather damage protection for the finish. We also advise you disconnect the vehicle’s battery.
This makes sure that during your storage term, nothing inside the car will drain the battery. Consider putting your car on jack stands to unload the tires when you’re storing it for a long time. This can prevent flat spots on tires, which are dangerous to drive on. Before a long-term storage stay, make sure you have enough fluids. This entails refueling, changing the oil, and topping off the engine antifreeze coolant. It’s crucial to turn off your parking brake. Also, a full gas tank is advised as a half empty tank will cause condensation.
While the parking brake is engaged, it may seem unusual, but your brake pads can fuse together. Therefore, we advise using blocks or tire stoppers to prevent any vehicle movement. While your vehicle is being parked in a suitable type of unit, make sure to keep up with your insurance policy management.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Storage Unit To Work On My Car?
There are a few potential benefits to using a storage unit for DIY auto repair and maintenance:
- Indoor space: A storage unit provides an enclosed indoor area protected from the elements. This can be ideal for tasks like detailing, fluid changes, etc.
- Security: Most storage facilities have security features like fences, gates, surveillance cameras, etc. This can provide peace of mind against theft.
- Convenience: Storage units are often open extended hours, so you can access your vehicle and work conveniently.
- Affordability: Depending on the size, storage units can be relatively affordable compared to renting garage space.
- Flexibility: You can rent the unit only when you need to work on the vehicle versus committing to a long-term garage rental.
What Unit Size Do You Need To Work On A Car?
The size of vehicle storage units vary, and would need to be larger if you are allowed to work on your car. Here are common storage unit sizes according to the work you may need to do.
- A 5×5 or 5×10 unit may be suitable to make minor repairs like oil changes, detailing, tune-ups, etc.
- For more involved repairs like brake jobs or getting under the vehicle, a 10×10 or 10×15 unit is likely required.
- Larger bays like 10×25 or 10×30 will provide ample room to access all sides of the vehicle fully.
- Consider your vehicle’s dimensions – a large SUV or truck will need more space than a small sedan. It’s better to get a larger unit if you can afford it. (Read Hvlp Cfm Requirements)
Can Various Storage Unit Sized Be Used As Garages?
Before renting a unit, verify with the storage facility if automotive work is permitted. Many prohibit any car maintenance, repairs or even accessing the vehicle regularly. Reasons include:
- Fire hazards from flammable liquids like gas/oil.
- Environmental concerns with spills, leaks or dumping chemicals.
- Noise complaints from tools or equipment disturbing other tenants.
- Risk of damage to the unit from jack stands, lifts, etc.
- Insurance risks of injury onsite.
Some facilities may allow minor maintenance like cleaning, polishing, vacuuming, battery swaps, etc. But repairs or significant work are often forbidden, so check rental policies.
What Precautions Should You Take Using A Unit As A Garage?
If you find a storage facility that allows you to work on your vehicle, take these precautions:
- Use drip pans and tarps to contain any leaked fluids or chemicals.
- Have proper fire extinguishers on hand. Avoid smoking or open flames.
- Use jack stands, chocks and wheel blocks to prevent movement.
- Don’t run the engine inside – carbon monoxide poisoning is a real risk.
- Ventilate the unit when working to avoid buildup of fumes.
- Dispose of waste properly offsite like used oil, filters, rags, etc.
- Keep the unit clean and organized with tools and equipment stored safely.
How Do Vehicle Storage Units Work?
A vehicle storage unit functions similarly to a standard storage unit, with the main distinction being it is used to store cars rather than furniture. The provider will need information on your car to continue with the rental.
If you decide to move forward with the rental, you must pay hourly, weekly, or monthly charges depending on how long you plan to store your vehicle. Remember, you’ll need to budget because storage unit rent typically costs upward of $45 monthly according to location.
What Are Some Other Alternatives For DIY Car Repair Space?
If your storage facility prohibits automotive work, what are some other options?
- Rent garage space: Some self-storage facilities offer individual garage units to rent. Rates are usually more than a regular unit, yet monthly rates are cheaper than weekly rates depending on how long it’s stored.
- Auto hobby shop: Some hobby shops rent workshop space with lifts/tools for DIYers.
- Mobile mechanic: They’ll come to your parking spot to perform repairs. More convenient but more expensive.
- Driveway: Check city ordinances, but repairs may be allowed at home. Not ideal for major work.
- Parking lot: Ask businesses for permission to use their empty lots. Malls, churches or schools may allow it.
- Auto repair shop: Some shops rent their bays and lift time at an hourly rate. Provides tools/equipment.
- Maker spaces: These community workshops have DIY areas for auto projects. May require membership fees.
Removing Your Car From Self-Storage
Thoroughly check your car’s assets before removing it from its storage unit. Ensure tire pressure is normal and inspect tires for cracks or flat spots. For evidence of bugs, check the exhaust pipe and undercarriage.
Before starting your car, remove any socks or rags from the exhaust pipe. Reattach the car battery and replace any essential fluids. Ensure the car cover is off, turn the ignition on, and wait a few minutes before opening the storage unit door. Test the brakes lightly before driving your car out of the unit. For the first few minutes, go slowly to make sure everything is in working order. (Read Hissing Sound After Turning Car Off)
Using a storage unit for DIY auto repairs and maintenance is certainly possible, but also comes with limitations. While the benefits like affordability, security, and convenience are enticing, significant restrictions enforced by most facilities drastically narrow its feasibility.
Strict rules, safety risks, and lack of ideal work conditions mean storage units are best suited only for very minor maintenance tasks. For more extensive repairs, invested mechanics are better served by pursuing alternatives like rented garage spaces, mobile mechanics, or community auto hobby shops.
Or when possible, work on obtaining proper garage access through your own home. With prudent planning and strategic use, storage units can provide a serviceable short-term fix for basic car storage and upkeep in a worst case scenario. But for most car enthusiasts, ask around for more viable long-term solutions that would offer enough space to get to work without much trouble.
FAQs: Working on Your Car in a Storage Unit
Can I get in trouble for working on my car in a storage unit?
Most storage facilities prohibit vehicle repairs and maintenance in their units. Violating the terms of your rental agreement can get your access revoked and/or lead to fees. Always check the rules first with your storage unit company.
What if I just want to wash/vacuum my car inside the unit?
Basic cleaning may be allowed in some facilities, as long as you are careful about drainage/runoff. But confirm with management before assuming it’s permitted. As most units don’t offer power, you’d need to use a light socket adapter if you could remove the light bulb first. (Read Will Nail Polish Remover Damage Car Paint)
What size unit would I need to change my oil or swap a car battery?
For minor quick tasks like this, a 5×5 unit could likely work, provided you have space to open the hood and access the engine bay easily. Car models however can affect how well a car fits in any given unit.
Is it safe to jack up my car and get under it in a storage unit?
This is very unsafe unless you have the appropriate jack stands and take precautions against slippage. Most facilities won’t allow you to do this if you rent a space from them.
IF I KEEP THE DOOR OPEN, can I run the car engine in a storage unit?
No, you should never run a vehicle inside a space with the door closed because of the carbon monoxide poisoning risks you will face.
What if I don’t tell the storage company I plan to work on a car in their unit?
They will likely find out eventually and can terminate your rental, so don’t waste time trying to hide it by closing the garage door. Being upfront about your plans is better than hiding prohibited activities.
Are storage units well-suited for major repairs like transmission or engine work?
No, storage units are generally not ideal environments for major repairs, and you may need to fold in side mirrors to walk past your vehicle. Lack of tools, lighting, and space make a full-service auto parts shop more appropriate.