You are planning to leave your vehicle in your Florida garage while you spend time away to avoid Florida’s extreme summer weather. You’ve heard the horror stories of people coming back and finding white mold covering the steering wheel, dashboard, and leather seats? Plus, the car won’t start and there are flat spots the tires? What can be done to prevent such issues? I’m not a car expert and I’m not a mold expert, but I’ve dealt with many such situations over the past 15 years. I’d like to pass on some personal tips that could prove helpful.
CONTROLLING THE HUMIDITY:
Most people don’t have air-conditioned garages and the air inside is humid. Getting that humidity under control is your first priority.
- Consider purchasing a basic box fan and setting it securely in your garage. Then add a programmable timerto the fan. Set the timer so the fan will run daily between 12pm and 5pm which will help circulate the air in your garage during the hottest, most humid time of the day. Another good option is to install a ceiling fan in the garage and leave it on low. This provides for continuous air circulation in your garage.
- You can also add a free-standing dehumidifier in your garage and set it to run when the relative humidity level gets over your desired setting. A word of caution, make sure the dehumidifier hose is running outside your garage door and that the water drains away from your garage.
LEAVE VEHICLE WINDOWS OPENED OR CLOSED:
There are differing opinions on this. I’d like to give you both scenarios.
- Option 1: Leave the windows opened about 6 inches. This will allow air circulation throughout the vehicle. Air circulating helps to prohibit mold spores from settling on your vehicle’s interior surfaces and growing. A possible issue with this scenario is if your garage has a roof leak and rain seeps into your garage, the moisture can settle into your vehicle and mold can quickly grow feeding on any organic material it can find in your vehicle. Mold likes leather seats, dead skin cells and skin oils. That’s why steering wheels tend to end up with a lot of surface mold on them.
- Option 2: Close the windows in your vehicle. When leaving the windows closed I also suggest closing all the vents in your vehicle. Make sure that you engage your air recirculation button before you turn off the vehicle. This will close the air intake vent which will help keep humid air from entering your vehicle.
My choice would be to close the windows when storing my vehicle. It will also deter insects, snakes, mice and lizards from entering the vehicle.
MAINTAINING YOUR VEHICLE’S BATTERY:
Garages get extremely hot during the summer months. The heat combined with the vehicle staying idle for long periods of time may cause the battery to drain. Then a jump-start or a charge is necessary and both of these can lower the battery’s lifespan. If left flat too long, the battery will need to be replaced. Here are 3 possible ways to prepare the battery when storing your vehicle.
Option 1: Disconnect the battery. There are a few cons to this option. First, you will likely lose your dashboard and radio settings. Second, it can be a bit of a hassle to disconnect your battery each time you leave. A possible fix to the hassle is to have a battery disconnect switch connected to the battery’s negative terminal. This means all you do is turn the knob to disconnect the battery. There are different types of disconnect switches. Ask your auto repair tech which one is best suited for your vehicle.
Option 2: Connect a battery maintainer to your battery. A battery maintainer is not the same thing as a battery charger. A battery maintainer connects to both your negative and positive battery terminals and plugs into an electrical outlet. The maintainer will only send a charge to the battery when the battery can accept a charge. So, as the battery reaches full charge, the maintainer stops charging the battery. By using a battery maintainer, you’ll be able to extend the life of your battery. When properly maintained, your battery will typically last for four to five years. Without proper maintenance, your battery may fail in less than two years.
Option 3: Do nothing and hope for the best.
AVOIDING LONG TERM TIRE FLAT SPOTS:
If you do an online search, you’ll find articles to do and what not to do. The key elements seem to be where are you storing your vehicle and how long will the vehicle be stored? Flat spots happen on the vehicle’s tires when the weight of the vehicle presses down on the same section of tire for long period of time. Here are some basic suggestions that might help minimize flat spots on your tires.
- Make sure all 4 tires are filled to the proper pressure (according to the manufacturer’s recommendations). You might consider adding an additional 5 pounds or so of air pressure. If you do add additional pressure, make sure the tires are back at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure before driving the vehicle.
- So your tires don’t come into direct contact with hot concrete, park each tire on a piece of thick carpeting.
- Use flat-free tire supports or tire storage ramps and parking your vehicle on them.
Using a car cover is determined by whether your car is being stored inside or outside.
- Inside Storage:If storing the vehicle in your Florida garage, there really isn’t much need to place a car cover on it unless you want to protect it from dust and dirt. Should you decide to use a car cover, it is imperative that you make sure your vehicle is completely clean and dry before putting the cover on the car. If the vehicle is slightly wet before putting the car cover on, moisture be trapped between the car cover and the vehicle. This may cause some discolorations of the paint. It may even trap moisture around your vehicle that could be the beginning of surface mold within your vehicle. Putting a cover on a dirty vehicle poses the risk of scratching the paint as the cover moves along the surface of your vehicle.
- Outside Storage: When storing your vehicle outside, use a good quality car cover. One that breathes, is waterproof and securely attaches. Just as noted above, make sure that your vehicle is completely clean and dry before putting the cover on.
If leaving your vehicle for longer than 90 days, consider adding a fuel stabilizer to your gas. This will help prevent condensation from forming in the tank when the temperature changes and also helps prevent the gas from oxidizing. Add the stabilizer to a full tank of gas and let the engine run for a few minutes to circulate the fuel stabilizer through all system components.
- Some fuel stabilizers can keep fuel fresh for extended periods of up to 12 to 24 months.
- Make sure to get the proper fuel stabilizer for the type of fuel you put in your vehicle.
- Always seek advice from your vehicle’s manufacturer and/or auto mechanic prior to doing anything you are not certain of.
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS WHEN STORING YOUR VEHICLE:
- Wash the exterior of the vehicle, clean out and vacuum the interior.
- Ask your home watch company to do a visual check of your garage to look for signs of ceiling leaks, water intrusion, and pest or rodent issues.
- Ask your home watch company do a visual check of your vehicle (flat tires, visible signs of mold, functioning battery maintainer, etc.).
If you enjoyed reading this blog and found it beneficial, please feel free to share it with others.
* Please note the information above are suggestions based on HWSE experiences. Each homeowner is encouraged to store their vehicle as they see fit, based on their own experiences.
Thanks to Carl Lorenzini, friend and corporate home watch trainer, for allowing us to use this article. For other interesting articles, visit Carl’s website at www.homewatchservicesetc.com