Some of us look at our garage as a place meant for storing tools, toys, sporting gear, landscaping equipment and perhaps an extra fridge or two. We often lose sight of its main purpose: to store and protect some of our most valuable possessions - our vehicles. With winter coming on, there are more reasons than ever to get that garage cleaned out so it can serve its intended purpose well, and some aren't as obvious as just protecting it from the bad weather.
1. Use it as a Protective Shield
Parking in a garage protects your car from dangers like hail, which can crack windshields and ding sheet metal in extreme cases. But perhaps more importantly, it also reduces the chance of damage from a more common overhead source: our fine feathered friends. Bird droppings are highly acidic, and that, combined with what alternating sun and cold can do to an exposed car, is a recipe for potentially expensive paint damage. Additionally, while parking in your driveway may be safer than parking in the street, where your vehicle is right in the path of traffic, moving into a garage raises the bar. Now, you're out of the way of delivery trucks, visitors and people turning around, too.
2. Think about the Bottom Line
Beyond protecting your vehicle from accidental damage, putting your vehicle out of sight helps decrease opportunities for the intentional kind of damage as well. After all, a locked garage puts another layer of security between your vehicle and potential thieves, and it decreases the chance of vandalism in the same way. There's a double advantage here: First, you can guard against any costs that could arise out of those malicious actions themselves, but then you can further save on insurance. This is because many insurance companies offer lower rates if you regularly garage your car or truck.
3. Keep it Made in the Shade
If you've ever had to start your work day by digging your car out of a snowy driveway, and/or scraping off a layer of ice from the windows, you already know of the key benefits to parking in a clean garage. It's also better for your car. Even in the dead of winter, your car is warmer in a garage than if it's exposed to the wind and elements, and the warmer your car's oil and other fluids, for example, the easier it is on the engine when starting up.
The flipside to those winter benefits will show up with the better weather. Your car will stay out of the heat of the sun and won't have to work as hard to reach comfortable operating conditions. Parking in a garage will also limit your car's exposure to UV rays, which can be particularly harmful to a vehicle's interior. Along with causing the cabin surfaces to fade and crack, the hot sun also can be surprisingly harmful to you—by heating up the steering wheel and seats to painful levels. None of that is an issue with a garaged vehicle.
4. Bring Out Your Inner Mechanic
Doing your own minor car repairs can be both economical and great for your ego, and a picked-up garage can provide a clean, relatively weather-free place for your efforts. You'll also have access to electrical outlets for handy resources such as tools, lights, heaters and fans. Learning to change the oil is a simple starting point that can give you the confidence to try other automotive challenges—although if this seems daunting, there's always topping off your own windshield-wiper fluid. A garage keeps you covered from the elements, so you can tinker to your heart's content.
5. Keep the Critters Away
Finally, you should clean your garage not just to keep your car in, but also to keep pests out. Messy garages make attractive homes for rats, mice, spiders and other unwelcome critters, many of which are eager to follow you right into your home. Some, like termites, bring destructive results anywhere they're found. With that in mind, you'll want to reduce mess as much as you can. And don't forget to go the extra mile to weatherproof your garage when you're done, so the pests can't get back in. This also will help prevent pets and other animals from taking shelter in a warm engine compartment or other areas of a vehicle, then getting injured—or worse—when the vehicle is started.