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If you’re an active person who spends more time in the great outdoors than at home, you’re probably as comfortable in the pouring rain or frigid snow as you are in the bright, warm sun. Sadly, the same can’t be said of your vehicle. Whether you use a car, SUV, or truck to tow your gear to the mountains, fields, and streams, keep in mind that you need to protect it against the elements. To help you extend the life of your vehicle—and your fun in driving it—here are several tips for protecting and storing your car outside.
Keep It Covered
Whether you’re camping for several weeks or just one night, pack a fitted cover for your vehicle. Make sure it’s made for your car and can breathe. Morning dew and precipitation can build up moisture in and around the vehicle, and a cover can prevent either from damaging the finish. Keep in mind that if you’re parking under trees, you’ll want a layer of protection against falling leaves, twigs, nuts, seeds, and droppings. The longer your car stands in a natural environment, the more attacks it’ll come under from nature. Also, use a breathable cover because, otherwise, moisture can be trapped beneath a tarp or the like, leading to potential rust and corrosion.
Give It a Checkup to Give It an Edge
If you’re planning to be far from civilization, bring enough tools with you to ensure your vehicle is up to the trip. Before you leave for your trip, have the car inspected by your mechanic. Fill up the gas tank and pack an empty gas can, just in case. Keep the tires properly inflated, accounting for higher or lower temperatures, which can expand or reduce your tires and potentially leading to flats or blowouts. Make sure they have a good tread on them and have been recently rotated. An updated and upgraded vehicle stands a better chance of getting you out of scrapes when you’re far from home.
Keep It Critter-Free
A car offers warmth, food, and shelter to many animals, so make it an undesirable place for wild animals. Plug up the tailpipe to prevent critters from crawling inside (just remember to remove the plug before you leave). Look for other points of entry and plug them up as well. Consider leaving scents around the car that turn away vermin, such as peppermint oil, cedar wood, mothballs, and cayenne pepper. Devices that create unpleasant sounds are an option, too. You can consider setting traps inside the vehicle, but remember that you’re visiting their home, not vice versa! Let these wild animals live in peace.
Clean It Up, First Thing!
Here’s one of the biggest tips for protecting and storing your car outside—the second you get home, clean off all the mud, grit, grime, and other filth your car picked up outside. You can try to clean it a bit before you leave the campsite, but don’t use harsh chemicals. Save the big cleanup for the driveway, where you can hose it off, sponge away the muck, and dry and polish it back to perfection!