One of the best things you can do for your vehicle is to park it in a garage. This helps to minimize exposure to extreme temperatures that can be hard on your engine. It also protects it from debris, wind, hail, reckless drivers, and other external problems.
But what if you don’t have a garage? How can you keep your vehicle running in top condition without that extra coverage?
Parking your car in a garage is certainly ideal, but it’s not essential. There are a few things you can do to improve the health and longevity of your vehicle.
1. Take It for Seasonal Checkups
As the seasons change, a car not parked in the garage may experience changes too. The fluctuation of warm and cold temperatures can affect fluid levels, tire pressure, and other factors. It’s always wise to take it in for seasonal checkups!
It’s recommended that you get an oil change every three to six months, depending on the type of oil you use, and if you keep with that schedule, your car will fare better through the years.
Along with these regular oil changes, consider a spring maintenance check. This is an important transition for your vehicle, as it potentially experiences more dangerous and damaging conditions during the cold, snowy months. The extra moisture on the roads can do a number on your vehicle, including rust problems, and a spring checkup can help to mitigate potentially serious problems.
2. Keep It Off the Grass
You might think that you shouldn’t park your car on your lawn for the sake of your grass. Ever-present vehicles certainly make your spring lawn maintenance difficult! But it’s more important to avoid grass parking to prevent rust on your vehicle.
Rust is a common problem for vehicles that are not parked in a garage because they’re exposed to moist conditions for longer periods. Rust conditions will worsen if you park your vehicle in, particularly moist areas, like on your grass.
When the grass dews or frosts, it exposes your vehicle’s underside to the moisture. Before long, you could experience rusted pipes, brake rotors, and other essential parts. Do your grass and your car a favor and keep your vehicle parked on the pavement.
3. Wash Regularly
A vehicle that’s parked outside is constantly exposed to the elements. While your vehicle finish is designed to withstand quite a beating, the buildup of dirt, grime, rust, plant debris, bird poop, and other natural elements can cause bits and pieces of your vehicle to wear away.
Wash your vehicle at least weekly—more often if it’s parked under a tree where corrosive plant debris and bird poop are constantly landing on its hood. Preventing filthy buildup will reduce corrosion of the finish and metal.
Remember to get the undercarriage wash during the winter, especially. The salt and dirt that communities use to de-ice the road can escalate rust on the bottom of your vehicle. Pressure washing the undercarriage regularly is essential to prevent this problem.
4. Watch Where You Park
Think about where you’re parking before you get out of the car. It might seem smart to park under a tree every day during a hot summer, but that exposes your car to tree debris, animal droppings, and even broken branches.
It’s also wise to avoid parking in areas with heavy foot or vehicle traffic. Careless passersby or even kids playing might accidentally scratch your vehicle. Being conscious of where you park can minimize exposure to dangers.
5. Consider Installing Covered Parking
Not all vehicle owners will have this option because they live in an apartment, rent, or just don’t have room or funds for a garage. However, if you have the space and funding, consider building a garage. It doesn’t have to be connected to the house, which will equal big savings.
If you can’t afford a garage or only have a small space, the next best thing is a carport. This is just a small structure with a roof that will keep debris and hail off the vehicle. It’s usually connected to the house and offers some weather protection as well.
There are many other garage alternatives on the market, like sheds, tent canopies, portable garage kits, awnings, telescoping tents and more.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider a portable car canopy that can be draped over your vehicle wherever you go. It might feel strange to cover your vehicle in a parking lot at work, but it’s a great way to protect it and increase longevity!
Finally, some vehicle owners have a garage, but they’ve filled it with so much stuff their vehicle doesn’t fit! If this is you, consider a major purge. You might find new places to store your items or whittle down what you have to make room in your garage.
Your vehicle’s health and safety are completely at your discretion. While you might not have the means to park it in the garage, you can take other steps to increase the life and quality of your car.