There was a time when the thought of leaving the family car out in the open for long periods when there was garage space available would have been unthinkable.
But times have changed and it’s common now to see the garage used as a kid’s playground, a storage area or even an office for those working from home.
In other cases some garages aren’t as big as they once were, so it’s far easier to park in the driveway rather than fight the car for any extra available space. And then there are those homes that simply don’t have the luxury of a closed in garage at all.
I was asked recently whether leaving the family car outside and exposed to the elements on a regular basis would create any premature long term damage. My answer: in some cases yes and in other cases, no.
No, because there are a high percentage of home-garaged vehicles that spend an awful lot of their down time sitting in an open environment. They rarely get a thorough wash, let alone a good old fashion wax and therefore, suffer accordingly.
You only have to look at all the vehicles that are parked regularly in the many Park-n-Ride carparks around the outskirts of the main city centres that can be exposed to a host of unwanted environmental elements.
Parking them in the garage at night is not going to make up for the damage caused during the daylight hours.
Security, peace of mind and possibly cheaper vehicle insurance is a good reason to garage a vehicle, but little else if owners aren’t both proactive and reactive when their vehicles are parked up for long hours in an open environment.
I often hear owners say they paid extra for a special paint protection to be applied when they bought their vehicles which, in their eyes, can sometimes mean they can pay a lot less attention to the bodywork. Sure, there is no question it has its upsides, and the body panels can retain their shine for long periods.
But it can’t protect the top surfaces such as the roof, bonnet and boot from repeated bird droppings, tree sap or other nasty environmental fallout that can etch itself into the paintwork and create permanent damage.
Rubber and chrome work can also suffer from long term exposure to the elements, as does the interior trim including dashboards in the heat of summer. If the car is sitting for long periods in open spaces all day with little to no protection, then it deserves a regular wash and the occasional polish.
If your vehicle is regularly parked in an area that is coastal, then it also pays to give the undercarriage a regular thorough wash-down as well to help stop corrosion on untreated componentry.
Owners who have the luxury of garaging 24/7 certainly have a much better chance of keeping their vehicles in top condition for longer.
Not to say a vehicle which lives under the stars its entire life can’t be kept in the same condition, it just takes a much bigger effort from owners.