Should I Use a Car Cover in the Garage?


Planning to store your car long-term? Then you need to take some steps to protect it from things like dust and moisture. Most experts recommend using a car cover for long-term storage.

However, many people wonder if you should use a car cover even if you’re storing your car in your garage.

You should cover your car in the garage to protect it from external elements like dirt, falling debris, and moisture. Getting an indoor car cover keeps moisture from settling on your car and gives it a just-waxed appearance. 

We’re going to talk about some reasons why you should cover your car in the garage, and what types of car covers to use. Hint…it makes a big difference.

So read on to find out more.  

Why Should You Cover Your Car in the Garage?

If you’re like me, you probably assume that keeping your car in your garage is enough to protect it from damage from extreme weather or sun. In fact, most people believe that.

A garage protects your car from the weather and debris, that’s true. However, it can’t stop things like dust or humidity inside your garage from taking their toll. 

The best way to protect your car is to use a car cover, even inside your garage.

Covering your car adds an extra layer of protection. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you should use a car cover, no matter whether you store your car inside or outside.

Car Covers Protect Against Moisture

Moisture creeps into your garage when you least expect it. 

If you’ve got an older car with a lot of chrome or exposed metal parts, you know that they don’t handle moisture build-up well. Often, it leads to discoloration or rust. 

Even if you seal your garage to try to keep moisture out, it’s tough to figure out everywhere that moisture gathers. It’s worse if you live near the coast, or in an area that salts their roads after a snowstorm. Salt eats away at the exposed parts of your car, quickening corrosion and rust.

Keeping your car in the garage helps keep it safe from weather, but it can’t prevent damage from moisture that accumulates behind body panels and in your engine bay. A breathable indoor car cover helps prevent moisture from building up because it still allows air to circulate and dry it out quicker. 

Car Covers Protect Against Scratches

Your garage is probably a pretty busy place. If you’ve got kids with toys, or even a cat that likes to jump up on your car, it’s pretty each to scratch up your paint.

The problem gets worse if you use your garage as a workspace. Personally, I’m responsible for a couple of scratches myself from my watch or the tools I was carrying.

Covering your car may not completely stop the damage, but it will definitely add an extra layer of protection against minor scratches, bumps or cat’s paws.

Car Covers Protect Against Dust in Your Garage

Your garage is a dusty place, especially if you have a concrete floor. It seems like you can’t escape it, even by keeping your car in the garage.

Depending on where you live, you may have to deal with pollen and other allergens that can find it’s way into your garage, every time the door opens, or even when you park your daily driver inside.

Dirt is easy to clean up, but dust and pollen are much harder because of their smaller particle sizes.

Although dirt, dust, and pollen build-up may seem a bit trivial, it can dull your car’s finish and could even permanently scratch it. If you’re planning on storing your car in your garage for any length of time, you need to invest in a quality indoor car cover. That will help protect your car from pollen and dust buildup and keep your car’s finish looking new for longer.  

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Car Covers 

Car covers are designed for either indoor or outdoor use. It’s usually not good to use an indoor car cover outside, or vice versa.

Outdoor covers are thicker and heavier to give protection against rain, snow, sun or wind. Conditions you won’t find indoors.  Their fabrics also help protect against tree sap, and bird droppings and keep that acid off your car’s paint.

Indoor car covers are lightweight and easier to store. They’re made from a softer material that still helps protect your car from dings, and keep dust off. They’re also made from a breathable material that helps keep air flowing so moisture can evaporate.

In a pinch, you can use an outdoor car cover in your garage, but you can’t use an indoor cover outside. It’s not designed to provide enough protection from the weather and will start to deteriorate fairly quickly.

If you plan on leaving your car outside for long periods, then you need an outdoor car cover to protect your car from UV rays and other elements. 

How to Prepare Your Car for Long Term Storage

Whether you’re planning to go for a long vacation or you have a car that you only drive in the summer, you need to prep your car before storing it. 

Here is the general process to follow:

1. Clean Your Car Thoroughly

Never attempt to store your car without washing it. While it may seem counter-intuitive to clean the car before storing it, it can actually help keep your car’s finish looking good for longer.

Start by cleaning the lower body panels and fenders and wheels to get rid of dust, grease, tar, or mud. Be sure to pay special attention to your wheels to clean off any brake dust that’s accumulated. Brake dust is acidic and can eat into the wheel’s finish if left unchecked.

Note: If you’re storing your car, never use tire dressings on your tires. Instead use a simple cleaning solution. For more tips on how to store your tires, check out my article here where I detail the entire process I follow.

If all this seems like too much work, you can also opt to take it to a detailer to have it cleaned and waxed. Just be sure to give it a final once-over before you put on the car-cover.

2. Change the Oil

If you’re storing your car short-term, less than two weeks, you can skip this step. However, if you’re planning on storing it for the winter, then it’s a good idea to change the oil.

Engine oil contains contaminants that could damage the engine once you start it up after storage.

3. Fill up The Tank

Another good idea it so top off the tank if you plan to have the car in storage for more than 30 days.

This helps prevent the seals from drying out and ensures that moisture doesn’t accumulate inside the fuel tank. Products like fuel stabilizers protect the engine from rust and varnish, while preventing ethanol buildup. 

4. Inflate Your Tires

Keeping the right tire pressure is one way you can prevent flat spots.

Flat spots occur when a car is stationary for too long and the weight of the vehicle pushes down on the tires.

Ideally, you should move your car every 30 days or so, so flat spots don’t develop. Alternately, you can also take the wheels off and place the car on jack stands.

5. Avoid Using the Parking Brake

I’m bad at this one. Although I’m a fan of using the parking break when driving my car normally, it’s not a good idea to use it when storing your car long-term.

There’s a possibility that the rotors and brake pads could fuse together. If you want a little extra security, you could get a tire stopper or parking aid to prevent your car from moving. 

6. Use a Car Cover

Hopefully by now you’re convinced that you need a car cover when storing your car inside, even if you park it in the garage.

Your garage and a car cover work together. The garage will help keep your car safe from the elements while a car cover will keep it safe from dust, moisture and scratches.  

Conclusion

Covering your car in the garage is a must as it helps to protect your car from dirt, dust, scratches, moisture buildup, among other elements. Invest in a quality indoor cover with a soft lining.

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