Ideally, you’d keep all your vehicles stored inside your garage when not in use.
The garage protects your car from the elements, reducing its wear and tear and preserving its structural integrity, aesthetics, and future resale value.
But for various reasons, you may be unable to keep your car in the garage.
For one thing, you may not have a garage — you live in an apartment or home that lacks one.
Or maybe you have a two-car garage but own three cars. One of those cars is going to have to stay in the driveway.
Or perhaps you’ve turned your garage into a gym and don’t have room for your vehicle(s). Sorry, car, you’ve been kicked to the curb for the sake of gainzzz.
If you need to park your car outside, what can you do to protect its exterior and interior from being damaged by the sun, heat, cold, rain, snow, pollen, and pollutants to which it’ll be continually exposed?
You don’t have to do that much, especially for cars built in the 21st century. Thanks to technological advances, vehicles can withstand quite a beating from the elements without deteriorating. But there are a few things you can do to supplement your car’s built-in outdoor protection. And of course, if you own a vintage automobile, you’ll want to take extra good care of your baby.
Here’s a maintenance schedule for keeping your vehicle in the best possible condition:
Don’t Park Underneath Trees. If possible, don’t park your car underneath trees. When you park beneath a tree, you increase the chances of birds pooping on your car. Moreover, tree sap, pollen, and falling acorns can all damage your car’s exterior.
Use a windshield sunshade. UV rays and high heat can weather and damage your car’s interior over time. To mitigate that, put a sunshade under your windshield. It will block the sun and keep the interior of the car cooler, which is particularly important in the bright, hot summer months.
Every Other Week
Wash Your Car. You can get away with less frequent car washes when you park your car inside a garage. When your vehicle is parked outside, it collects dirt and grime, so regular car washing becomes essential. Washing your car every other week will ensure you remove the debris that can damage your car’s exterior. Follow our guide to the perfect driveway car wash.
Wax Your Car. Car wax will not only make your car look nice and shiny but also provide a protective layer to its paint.
Carnauba wax is easy to apply and provides plenty of protection for your car’s paint. You can buy waxes that have UV protectants mixed in for an added layer of defense.
Car waxes last for two to four months, but if you park your car outside, the wax will wear off faster, so wax your vehicle on a monthly basis.
Apply Trim Protectants to Exterior Plastics, Rubber, and Moldings. UV rays, as well as hot and cold weather, can dull, fade, crack, and weaken your car’s exterior trim. To prevent that from happening, apply a trim protectant once a month to your vehicle’s exterior plastics, rubber, and moldings.
Apply Interior Protectants. While using a sunshade will go a long way in protecting your car’s interior, for added protection, apply an interior protectant with UV protection to the dashboard and leather upholstery once a month.
Consider a Sealant or Ceramic Coating. Consider applying a sealant or ceramic coating for longer-lasting protection for your car’s exterior. You apply them the same way you do a wax. They last longer, and the ceramic coating also helps protect your vehicle from minor scratches.
Only Use a Car Cover If You’re Parking Your Car Outside Long-Term
You’d think if you wanted to provide maximum protection to your car when it’s parked outside, you’d always want to use a car cover.
But most professional car detailers actually don’t recommend putting a cover on a car that’s parked outside, at least if you’re using the car on a regular basis. This is for a few reasons:
First, constantly putting the cover on and taking it off increases the chances you’ll inadvertently scratch your car.
Second, you’d only want to cover your car after it’s been washed. Covering your car when it’s already dirty will keep it from collecting more grime, but you’ll be wrapping in the existing debris.
Finally, if you’re driving your car regularly, it’s just a pain in the butt to cover and uncover your car day after day, and it’s probably not offering much ROI in return for the effort. Regularly washing and waxing your vehicle and applying trim protectants is likely enough to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
The only time you might want to consider using a car cover is if you plan on parking your car outside long-term. Make sure you wash and wax it before putting the cover on.
There you go. How to take care of your car if you can’t park it in a garage. You’ll need to consider some extra factors when parking your car outside in the cold and snow. We’ll tackle that in a future article.