Sometimes a garage isn’t in the cards, and you must leave your vehicle to battle outdoor threats alone. But with a good deal of preparation and the proper products, you can protect your new car from bad weather, the sun, and almost every other external evil. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your vehicle from breaking under the pressure of being an outside car.
How to Protect a Car from Hail Damage
If you park your car in the driveway, parking lot, or out on the street, you may be fearful of thieves, vandals, and bad drivers. But did you know that hail is one of the most common causes of vehicle damage? In fact, car hail damage insurance claims have jumped nearly 80% since 2015!
To protect your vehicle from hail, it’s best to store it in the garage. But that’s not a possibility for you, right? In that case, I have a handful of good suggestions:
- First, sign up for weather alerts. If hail is in the forecast, prepare your vehicle for a wild ride!
- Have a carport ready to go. Steel carports are great investments and can be set up in 5 minutes.
- If you don’t have the budget for a carport or car shelter, the next best option is a car cover that can fit your vehicle. Many car covers provide adequate protection against small hailstones, though it won’t eliminate the risk of a windshield crack or shattered window.
- Now, if you’re on a shoestring budget, try draping thick blankets over your car to prevent hail damage. I recommend folding in the side mirrors, opening ALL your windows, and tucking the ends of the blankets into the door – you can keep the doors slightly open as you place the blankets, then shut the fabric inside the bottom of the door jamb.
How to Protect a Car from Sun & UV Rays
Placed directly under the sun for long periods of time, cars can experience some damage.
Mostly, the sun damage to your car will be on the inside, as the heat will cause leather upholstery and plastic dashboards to crack, fade, and bleach, or even melt. To prevent this, I suggest using a car windshield shade or sun panel. They can be purchased at most any automotive or car parts store.
Another option is to use commercial maintenance products, like conditioners, that will protect the interior from cracking or fading in the sun.
If you’re concerned about the exterior of your car, the best way to protect it from the sun is to wash and wax it often – and keep it in the shade! Read my tips to wash your car properly, and you’ll never have to fret the UV rays again.
How to Protect a Car from Pollen
Spring may be one of my favorite seasons, but pollen can take a hike! Sneezing is no fun, and neither is that greenish-yellow dust found on the car in the morning.
Some people will say pollen doesn’t really do damage to vehicles, but I disagree. When left too long on a car, pollen can amplify or speed up body corrosion. Rain usually solves these problems, but what happens when you go a couple of weeks without even a spring shower?
A good spring car cleaning is in order. You’ll want to wash the vehicle well each week and apply a quality wax once per season. If you can’t find time to wash your car, a visit to a nearby carwash should suffice.
How to Protect a Car from Bird Poop
Yes, bird poo can damage your car’s paint! Their droppings are acidic (uric acid), which means they’re highly corrosive to bases, like car paint. Bird poop can etch into your car’s paint in just hours, especially under the hot sun, so it’s imperative you get those stains off ASAP.
Simply parking your car away from light posts, dumpsters, and utility poles will reduce the risk of birds laying a liquid egg on your hood. But complete protection from bird droppings means being both proactive and reactive. I recommend the following:
- Use a quality car wax that will allow you to easily wipe away dried bird poop with a wet towel.
- Keep a roll of “blue shop paper towels” and a small spray bottle of quick auto detailer in the trunk, using both as needed when you spot bird poop on the car.
- Get a full exterior paint coating, which is more durable than waxes, as they seal and protect for many months. (Ask your trusted auto body shop for advice.)
- Put a car cover over your vehicle if you plan on being away for any long period, like when you get to work or arrive back home.
- Wash, wash, wash! And when you’re done, wash some more.
How to Protect a Car from Rust
You probably don’t have to worry much about your new car getting rust, but if you have an older vehicle, watch out! Rust patches are often troublesome signs that your vehicle is approaching its end, but there are ways to prevent car rust and extend the life of your vehicle.
First – and especially if you live near the ocean or drive around salted Kansas City roads in the winter – get your car undercarriage washed monthly throughout the year or winter. This will help prevent car corrosion from ocean salt and road salt.
Apply anti-rust products when you detail your vehicle. Pre-treating your vehicle to prevent those ugly rust patches is Car Maintenance 101.
Rust on your car can also stem from damp floor mats! When water soaks into the carpet, it can make contact with steel and oxidize. Therefore, it’s imperative you remove, clean, and dry your floor mats each season.
If you spot rust on your car, visit a body shop to have it sanded and repaired, preventing the rust from getting any worse.
How to Protect a Car from Floods
The recent Kansas City floods put hundreds and thousands of vehicles into the junkyard. Protecting a vehicle from floods is no easy task, but some preparation can work wonders. If you’re about to experience a flood, you’ll want to:
- Move the vehicle to higher ground, preferably a good distance away from any rivers, ponds, or lakes;
- Keep water out with a car flood protection bag, like one from Extreme Vehicle Protection or Flood Guard;
- Disconnect your battery;
- Empty the fuel tank and oil reservoirs;
- Seal everything up, even the exhaust pipes and vents; and
- Check with your insurance agent about any flood coverage, as this could save you thousands.
How to Protect a Car from Tree Sap, Falling Acorns & Bugs
To keep your car protected from falling acorns, steer clear of acorn trees, of course. If you must park under one, protect your hood with a car cover or blankets, much the same way you’d protect your vehicle from hail.
Dried bugs and tree sap on your car can oftentimes be an unpreventable nuisance, too. You can remove tree sap or bugs by adding rubbing alcohol to a clean microfiber cloth and lightly rubbing away the stain. This will typically clean off bugs, but if the tree sap won’t budge, don’t overdo it; too much elbow grease can damage your vehicle’s clearcoat. Sometimes a special cleaning product is necessary, instead.
Have any other tips to keep your car protected from bad weather, the elements, vandalism, or even zombies? You know the drill – leave those comments and let’s get a conversation started. For more auto detailing tips or advice, check out my other posts.