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How To Protect a Car That Sits Outside: 10 Useful Tips

How To Protect a Car That Sits Outside: 10 Useful Tips

People residing in apartments or those who don't have a garage often struggle to keep their cars protected from the elements. This is even more common in cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, etc., where parking is at a premium.

As a result, many car owners are left to find ways to protect their cars from the sun, rain, snow, and ice.

While there are several options that can help with this, we've compiled a list of tips on how best to protect your car if it has no choice but to sit outside (clue: invest in ceramic coating)!

1. Purchase a good car cover.

It only makes sense we start with the most obvious solution. A car cover is designed to protect your vehicle from the elements and can be a great way to keep your car in good condition if it has to sit outside.

From bird droppings to tree sap, a car cover can help keep your paint job looking good as new.

Just make sure you invest in a high-quality car cover that is specifically designed for your make and model of car. A cheap, flimsy cover will do more harm than good.

Choose a car cover with these features:

  • Breathable fabric to allow air circulation
  • UV protection to keep your car from fading
  • Waterproof or water-resistant material
  • A soft lining to protect your paint job

2. Invest in ceramic coating or paint protection film.

Taking it a step further, you may want to consider investing in ceramic coating or paint protection film (PPF).

Ceramic coating is a clear polymer that bonds to your paint and creates an extra layer of protection. This invisible barrier helps to protect your car's paint from scratches, UV rays, and other common contaminants.

On the other hand, paint protection film is a clear urethane film that is applied to your car's surface. This thin film acts as a shield, protecting your paint from rocks, road debris, and other elements.

Which is better?

Ceramic coating offers long-lasting protection and can make washing your car easier. However, it is a more expensive option. Consult paint protection film vs. ceramic coating for a more detailed comparison.

3. Use a UV protectant.

What is a UV protectant? A UV protectant is a product that helps to protect your car's paint from the sun's harmful UV rays. Typically found in the form of a spray, this product can be applied to both the exterior and interior of your car.

Not only will a UV protectant help to keep your car's paint from fading, but it will also help to protect the plastic and rubber components from cracking and premature aging.

Choose a UV protectant that is:

  • Easy to apply
  • Non-greasy
  • Aerosolized for even coverage

Read on sun damage on cars to know how to better protect your car from UV damage.  

4. Park in the shade when possible.

Now before you say this is impossible, hear us out. We know it's not always possible to find shade, especially if you live in an urban area. But we don't mean that you should go out of your way to find a shady spot or a permanent garage.

What we do mean is that you should take advantage of any opportunity to park in the shade when possible.

Some examples include:

  • Parking under a tree
  • Parking in a covered garage
  • Parking in a multi-level parking garage (the upper levels are typically cooler)

Taking advantage of these opportunities will help to keep your car cooler, which in turn will help to protect your paint job.

5. Get UV window tinting

The sun's harsh rays can not only damage your paint job but also cause the interior of your car to heat up. This can cause the plastic and leather components to crack and fade.

One way to protect your car's interior is to get UV window tinting. This will help to keep the inside of your car cooler and reduce the number of UV rays that enter. Depending on the tint you get, you can end up blocking up to 99% of UV rays.

Types of window tint:

  • Dyed window tint: A cost-effective option that blocks up to 60% of UV rays
  • Metalized window tint: A step up from dyed film, this option blocks up to 80% of UV rays
  • Ceramic window tint: The most expensive but also the most effective option, blocking up to 99% of UV rays.

Consult Types of car window tint to know which tint is best for your needs and particular situation.

6. Add a windshield sunshade.

Not meant as a single solution, a windshield sunshade is a great complement to any of the above options. A windshield sunshade typically comes in two pieces that you can put together to form a “tunnel”.

This tunnel helps to block the sun's rays from entering your car and heating the interior. Not only will this keep your car cooler, but it will also help to protect the dashboard and other interior components from cracking and fading.

Choose a sunshade that:

  • Fits snugly against your windshield
  • Is easy to set up and take down
  • Blocks out as much sunlight as possible

7. Check your insurance policy.

Check your insurance policy. That's right, we said insurance. Many car insurance policies will cover damage caused by the sun, but you'll want to check with your provider to be sure.

If you know you'll be parking your car outside for an extended period, it may be worth considering a policy that offers increased coverage for sun damage. For a few dollars more per month, you can rest assured knowing that your car is protected against the sun's harmful rays.

8. Keep an eye on the temperature.

This one may seem obvious, but it's important nonetheless. During the summer months, the temperature inside your car can reach triple digits in a matter of minutes. Having your car parked in direct sunlight can cause the temperature to rise even higher.

You'll want to keep an eye on the temperature inside your car and take breaks as needed to avoid overheating. If you start to feel uncomfortable, pull over and turn on the air conditioning.

9. Install cameras and anti-theft devices.

A car that spends a good chunk of time parked outside is more likely to be broken into or vandalized. As such, it's important to take some extra steps to protect your car. And in cities where car break-ins are more common, this is even more important.

One way to protect your car is to install cameras and anti-theft devices. This will help to deter thieves and give you some peace of mind knowing that your car is better protected.

Some examples of anti-theft devices include:

  • Wheel locks
  • Tracking devices
  • Kill switches
  • Alarm systems
  • GPS tracking devices
  • Motion-activated lights

10. Check your local laws.

Last but not least, be sure to check your local laws before parking your car on the street. In some cities, some laws prohibit cars from being parked on the street for extended periods.

If you're not sure about the laws in your city, contact your local police department or the Department of Transportation. They should be able to give you the most up-to-date information.

Illegal parking can result in a ticket or even having your car towed, so it's important to know the laws before you park.

Alternatives to Parking on the Street

If it happens to be illegal to park your car on the street in your city, or if you're just not comfortable with it, there are a few alternatives:

  • Rent a garage
  • Park in a parking lot for a fee
  • Leave your car at a friend or family member's house

Final Thoughts

No matter where you live, parking your car on the street can be a risky proposition. But with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can protect your car from the elements and keep it looking its best. Follow the tips above and you'll be sure to have a safe and worry-free experience.

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