Not everybody has the luxury of a nice, warm garage to park their precious rides. In fact, a 1999 US Census report indicated that nearly 75% of all single-family, detached houses have a garage – but only 46% of townhomes or apartment complexes have access to a covered parking structure.
While this study was completed two-decades ago, automotive owners still deal with similar struggles with finding ample covered parking. That said, how do you protect your car without a garage – especially when you take pride in the condition of your paint?
If you’re in this unfortunate situation, here are some practical options to consider. In today’s AvalonKing blog, we’ll dive into some of the methods and ways car owners without garages protect their vehicles from exposure to harsh weather conditions and daily contaminants.
What are the Most Popular Elements that Can Damage Your Car’s Paint?
The exterior of any car, truck or SUV is exposed to contaminants daily – that by nature, slowly contribute to their eradication. Whether it’s the UV radiation produced by ultra-violet rays, acid rain caused by smog, or natural contaminants like bird droppings, bug splatters or tree sap and pollen.
Each of these environmental factors can cause stains or penetrate your paints clear coating, eventually leading to oxidation, corrosion and ultimately – the development of rust. There are a few that are more potent than others and can cause damage to paint when the vehicle is kept outdoors.
The sun is the leading contributor to paint damage. It’s not always the direct radiation that causes the deterioration of clear coats. In fact, it’s usually a combination of debris, dirt and other contaminants that are heated or accelerated due to the UV Rays.
Sometimes, being proactive about washing your car every few weeks is all you need to do to protect the UV exposure – especially if you’ve applied a durable paint protection coating.
Do you know that layer of crap on the horizon that looks like a cloud of smoke? It’s smog, or literally, unburned particulate matter caused by the inefficient burning of carbon-based materials. While it’s hard to see it in the air you breathe, eventually – smog will fall from the sky, land on your car’s paint, and begin to cause damage to the clear coat.
Again – the simple act of washing your car every few weeks as recommended and/or using a durable paint protection coating like Armor Shield IX will protect the clear coat and other vehicle components from exposure to smog.
Mother Nature is not kind to cars. Neither are some of her creations – especially those that fly. Birds and bugs don’t choose where to drop their fecal matter – or become splattered. Bird droppings contain a lot of acids and digestive materials that can cause havoc on paint surfaces, glass, plastic trim, and more. Bug guts likewise are highly acidic – and can cause just as much damage to exterior car parts.
However, it’s also common for other natural-occurring elements like salt water and tree sap to bond to the paint surface and other areas of the car. The damage to paint occurs when these contaminants stay on the vehicle for extended periods of time – along with continued exposure UV rays and heat.
Products to Protect Your Car Without a Garage
If you Google this topic, you’ll likely find a lot of articles telling you to buy a portable carport, pay for covered parking at a third-party storage facility, or other ridiculous “tips” – especially for those without the means to do so.
To be blunt, there are honestly only two things you can do to protect your vehicle’s paint – purchase a car cover or invest in some sort of paint protection product.
With regards to the car covers, this is an OK solution for when you are home – or keeping your vehicle stored outdoors for extended periods of time. But, for those that travel around town frequently, the time and effort it takes to haul the car cover with you, unload it, apply it to the vehicle, then offload and put it back are just too much for most car owners.
So – this leads us to explore the different paint protection products that help to provide a sacrificial shield between the elements and your vehicle’s surface areas. The list below is rated by the length of time they protect the vehicle.
Natural Carnauba Wax or Car Wax
Old school car experts swear by using natural carnauba wax to protect the paint from natural elements. It’s derived from a palm tree that is indigenous to Brazil. Over the years, manufacturers have developed synthetic variants of this quite dependable paint protection solution.
However, automotive waxes only last for a few months. They are simple to apply, easy to remove, and if you enjoy constantly caring for your precious ride – this is a good option to consider.
The next level up from car wax is a synthetic creation called a paint sealant. This is essentially car wax on acid. It’s formulated to provide a thin layer of protection that hardens and lasts for about a year. Paint sealant products are applied in a similar fashion to car wax or liquid polishes, but there is additional prep work needed to allow the sealant to cure and last.
If there is a drawback to applying paint sealants, its that you’ll have to remove them prior to applying again. And removing a paint sealant can be tricky or time-consuming.
You’ve likely heard a lot in recent years about ceramic coatings for car paint. It’s something that was formulated and created by NASA used to protect tiles and other sensitive equipment against heat exposure.
It found a home in the automotive world about 15 years ago when a couple of companies in India and China discovered a way to use nanotechnology to infuse concentrated silica dioxide (SiO2) combined with liquid polymers to penetrate microscopic imperfections found on hard, porous materials.
Once the ceramic coating is applied, it takes a few minutes to ‘flash” or harden, where it’s buffed to remove residual. What’s left is an incredibly hard surface that can hold up against constant UV rays, dirt, debris, bird droppings, and smog – not only protecting the paint but amplifying the brilliance of the surface below.
There are a few different types of ceramic coatings out there. So, to ensure you’re not confused, here are a few different ceramic coating products.
Ceramic Coating Spray
A new product on the market is a ceramic coating spray. Some call these products ceramic coating booster sprays or maintenance sprays. They are intended to be sprayed on top of a vehicle surface, wiped with a clean microfiber cloth, then buffed off. The SiO2 percentage in these products is typically not larger than 15 percent – so they’ll hold up for a few months.
DIY Nano Coatings
The next level of ceramic coating products available to consumers is the DIY Nano Ceramic Coating. This is sold in a highly concentrated small bottle, and hand-applied by putting a few drops onto a microfiber suede cloth, spread evenly on the vehicle surface, and then buffed off after a few minutes.
There are multiple grades of DIY Nano Coatings, so users should complete due diligence and search for actual reviews to verify how well the product works, is to apply, and whether it’s backed with any warranty.
Professional Grade Nano Coatings
The final level of ceramic coating is the professionally applied versions. These are typically higher SiO2 percentages above 90 percent, making them very difficult to apply. Most of the time, they last for up to 5 years, but there are some that are backed by lifetime warranties for longevity.
It’s important to check with the manufacturer and installation company on exactly what is required for the warranties to be valid.
The Final Verdict
So – if you don’t have a garage, and don’t wish to spend additional money on storage options – or the frustration associated with car covers, applying a high-quality DIY Nano Ceramic Coating is going to be your best option. Not only is this a product that will last years, but they are easy to maintain, will keep your vehicle looking sharp and cleaner for longer periods of time.