Garage Conditions

By Kristen Castillo

September 21, 2016 5 min read

Whether you want to protect your dream car, or you just want to protect your daily commuter, storing your vehicle in a garage will help preserve the car.

Cars can obviously withstand significant wear and tear, but storing them in a garage can protect them from the elements. Over time, sun, snow, hail, tree sap and bird droppings can damage cars. Richard Reina, product training director at CARiD, an online retailer of automotive parts, says that garaging also "protects the car's paint, rubber trim, glass, tires and upholstery." The sun's UV rays can cause paint and fabric to fade, and "shorten the life of tires and rubber seals."

Keep the following considerations in mind to get the most out of your car-storing experience:

*Climate Control

When storing a car for a long period of time, drivers need to ensure that the garage is ready for the job. Climate-controlled garages are particularly important for classic collector cars and cars that aren't driven often. "In the ideal scenario, the garage is...heated and air-conditioned, which will control humidity levels, and prevent freezing," says Reina.

That being said, the vehicle will still benefit from being indoors, even if the garage doesn't have the perfect climate conditions. There's a simple checklist you can go through to make sure the garage is safe. Reina suggests making sure the roof is in good shape, so there are no leaks; making sure the doors and windows aren't drafty; and using a garage that's paved or covered with wood, for a dirt floor creates moisture, which can become a corrosive environment.

*Avoiding Critters

Once the weather cools, a cozy garage is an ideal place for critters to reside and look for food. Seal the perimeter of the garage to keep pests away. Besides being wary of creepy-crawlies, Reina says that rodents "will do tremendous damage to a vehicle" by chewing insulation, wiring and upholstery. Some might even take up residence in a vehicle.

*Prepping for Storage

While garaging a vehicle is preventive for the protection of the paint and interior, there are still drawbacks. Oil seals sometimes dry up, shrink and then leak. But simple preparations for storage can keep your vehicle road-ready. Experts often recommend putting the car up on a jack stand to reduce strain on the tires, or pouring a fuel-saver additive into the fuel tank. Leaving the windows cracked will reduce stress on the weather stripping, and running the engine for about 30 minutes a week with the air conditioner on will reduce the number of potential leaks.

*Start Your Engine

If you're garaging your car for the winter, make sure your battery is in good shape. "In cold weather, your battery capacity is going to be lower than it normally is," says Matthew Books of AmericanCareCraft, a custom accessories and parts retailer. Books recommends checking battery cables for cracks and breaks, saying that you'll know you need a new battery if you see exposed wire. And "You don't want a dead battery if you need to get somewhere in an emergency," he says. Additionally, check your vehicle's recommended mix of water to antifreeze. With the right mix, Books says that you'll be able to start the car whether you've been using it daily or sporadically. Car owners can buy an antifreeze tester for under $10.

*Space, Please

Make sure your garaged vehicle isn't squeezed into the space, and that there's free space all around the car, especially near doors, for they could get bumped. That means, keep the car away from the lawn mower, stored patio furniture, bikes and other gear and equipment.

*Garage Investment

Car owners without a traditional garage can buy an enclosed garage. Insulation is available, too. Mayberry Metal Structures sells steel-enclosed garages for all types of vehicles. Jessica Johnson, an employee, says, "We offer certified structures to meet local wind speed and snow load requirements." Car owners should consider permitting issues for enclosed garages.

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