Most cars do best when properly stored in a garage. With the safety of a roof overhead and protective walls all around, your car won’t chip or fade from the elements. Your garage can even protect against extreme temperatures, saving your engine from a cold start in the morning.
But not everyone enjoys the luxury of a covered garage.
More often than not, many car owners have to park their car on the street or in a parking lot close to their home. Cars parked outdoors will continue to function, but you can bet that your car will look a little worse for w ear after a few days, weeks, or months of exposure.
If you want to keep your car in pristine condition without the aid of a garage, you’ll want to take steps to avoid the following types of damage.
When you first buy your car, your new vehicle may look stunning in the sunshine. But though full light may bring out the colors for a few days, direct exposure will lead to fading, peeling, and blistering. As UV rays penetrate your paint, the metal finish will oxidize, leaving your car with unsightly sun spots.
Solution: Wash and Wax Frequently
Dirt and grime can eat away at your car and accelerate the sun’s oxidation process. You’ll want to wash your car regularly with a gentle automotive cleaner (not your ordinary dish soap). Wipe stubborn stains with a soft cotton mitt so you don’t scratch the finish, and dry your vehicle by hand with a cotton rag. Do not let your car air dry, as the minerals in the water can leave behind spots and worsen the damage.
Once you’ve finished cleaning your car from top to bottom, purchase a high-quality car wax that features ultraviolet radiation protection. For extra protection, you can layer your wax coats, though you’ll want to give each coat time to cure before applying another coat.
Omaha, Nebraska can see some intense hail storms during the year. Some storms can drop golf-ball-sized pieces strong enough to leave sizeable dents and divots in your hood and roof. Particularly large dents in the car’s steel will need a professional mechanic to hammer out.
Solution: Cover With Thick Blankets
If a hail storm is on its way and you don’t have access to a sheltering garage, carport, or tree, you can raid your linen closet for as many thick blankets, towels, and comforters as you can find. Layer the top of your car as much as possible; the more cushion you have over your car, the better. Tie down your blankets with a sturdy rope or two, as heavy winds can pick up quickly and blow away all your hard work.
Keep in mind that hail storms present just as much risk to you as to your vehicle. If possible, try to protect your car in advance of the storm. Do not attempt to cushion your car in the middle of a hail storm.
Tree and Pollen Damage
On a hot day or during stormy weather, you may try to avoid the worst of the damage by parking your car under a tree. The leafy canopy provides plenty of shade for your vehicle, and the thicker tree branches block bigger hailstones from hitting your car.
But even trees can damage your car if you don’t exercise care. Tree sap can etch your car’s clear coat of paint, resulting in discoloration and stains. Tree pollen also contains acids that can trigger oxidation, eating away at your car’s exterior.
Solution: Invest in a Car Cover
If you plan to leave your car outdoors for any extended period of time, consider investing in a properly fitted car cover. The right car cover can shield your car from sun and hail damage as well as protect it against any dust, dirt, pollen, and debris that may take a toll on your car’s exterior.
Don’t Forget Your Trip to the Mechanic
When you follow the above steps and precautions, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of damage to your vehicle. Unfortunately, even your best efforts might not be enough to completely prevent scratches, chips, and fading. If you’ve noticed your car looking old beyond its years, bring it into your local auto body mechanic for repairs and custom paint work.