Is it Bad for a Car to Be Parked Outside?


If you care about your car, then you may be worried that parking it outdoors all the time will end up causing damage. In this article, I’ll go through the issues with parking outside, and plenty of tips to help protect your vehicle if you don’t have the luxury of parking it in a garage. So let’s get started!

The Quick Answer

Parking a car outside means it is more subjected to UV damage, dirt, contaminants like iron fallout and tree sap, and the paint protection (wax/ sealant/ coating) will degrade faster. However, if the car is coated with a layer of protection and washed frequently, it’s fine to keep it outside.

Problems with Parking Outside

So what are the specific problems with parking your car outside compared to under-cover or in a garage? Here are the main issues.

  • It’ll get dirtier faster.
  • It’s more susceptible to bird poo, tree sap, iron fallout and other contaminants.
  • Your wax, sealant or coating will degrade faster.
  • UV rays can cause damage.

Let’s dive into a bit more detail with each of these reasons.

Dirt

If you park your car outside, it’ll get dirtier a lot faster than if you park it inside a garage or just undercover. Things like water spots, dust and bird poo are all going to make your car look much dirtier much faster. So if you want your car to look pristine at all times, but you don’t have a garage, then expect to have to wash it a lot more!

Contamination

When you park a car outside, it is much more susceptible to “contaminants”. These include things like iron fallout (from railways and industry), tree sap and bird poo.

Contaminants aren’t as easy to tackle as dirt. This is because they can’t really be removed with a simple wash, because they bond to the paintwork. The longer they’re left to sit on the paint, the less chance you have of being able to wash them away.

They cause the paintwork to feel rough and look dull. They can be removed using a process called “claying” which pulls them off the paintwork. However, it’s best to avoid them because they can actually cause the clear coat to slowly wear away over time.

It Degrades the Paint Protection

If you have a wax, sealant or coating on your vehicle, then expect the durability to be reduced if your car is parked outside. This is because it get’s battered by the elements a lot faster than if it was parked indoors most of the day. So say your wax claims it lasts for 3 months, you may only get a couple of months of protection out of it.

UV Damage

This is a big one if you live in a particularly hot climate and are lucky enough to get quite a bit of sun! UV rays will cause several issues and can cause fading of the following things:

  • Paintwork
  • Exterior plastic trim
  • Interior leather
  • Interior plastics

The sun damage tends to make the vehicle look tired and old.

Is it a Big Deal?

So how much of an issue actually is parking outside. Well, it definitely will contribute to the issues I’ve described above, but the vast majority of car owners park their cars outside.

I park my own car outdoors, and it still looks like new even though it’s a couple of years old now. There are plenty of things you can do to protect a car that’s parked outside all year round, so don’t panic!

How to Protect The Car

Here are some ideas to protect your car if you have to park it outside:

  • Apply a wax, sealant or coating to protect the paintwork.
  • Apply an interior plastic sealant to prevent fading.
  • Wash the car frequently to avoid contamination build up.
  • Try and park in the shade or near buildings which provide protection.
  • Do not park under trees as it’ll be subjected to bird poo and tree sap.

If you want some more ideas, then check out this article I’ve written on protecting your car from the sun.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if you’ve still got some more questions. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked related questions.

Should I use a car cover?

I always advise against using car covers because they tend to cause scratches, even ones that are very soft because they rub dust into the paintwork and cause micro-scratches and swirl marks.

Take a look at this article on why I will never use a car cover to find out which I’m not a fan of them.

Is rain bad for a car?

Rain itself is not very bad for the car, however when it sits on the paintwork and then evaporates, it will cause water spots. The impurities left behind in the water spot can cause the top layer of your car’s paint to corrode and wear away.

Take a look at this article I’ve written on the 9 most effective ways to prevent water spots on your vehicle.

How often should I wash my car if it’s parked outside?

If your car is parked outside, it is optimal to try and wash the car every 1-2 weeks. This will help to protect the exterior from contaminants. Cars parked outside should ideally be washed at least monthly.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the website to learn everything you need to know about making your car look its best.

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Heather

I first became interested in car detailing around 3 years ago and learnt all the main techniques on my very first car. I spend a lot of time detailing my current car, and trying to keep my family's cars looking presentable too!

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