It is the time of year where you will be putting your car away for the winter, as the weather begins to worsen.
Below we have outlined some tips on how to keep your car safe over the colder months.
For many motoring enthusiasts, the garage is a second home. It's where road trips are planned and where our cars are fettled and pampered. For many, it's also a sanctuary, where we can escape for a few hours.
However, how safe and secure are they? There are small things you can do to ensure that your car is protected while it is in storage.
Fire – this ranks highest as a risk to property, primarily as the threat of a total loss is significant.
Garages are often used to store other household items, some of which can be highly flammable. There are numerous examples of a fire starting because of this.
- Consider keeping flammable chemicals and materials in a separate outbuilding, such as a shed. If this isn't possible, keep them in a metal cabinet. Make sure that lids are tightly shut and any spillages are cleared up.
- If you have petrol powered garden equipment, keep fuel in the correct containers; fuel vapour is highly combustible.
- Ensure that fixed wiring and any portable electrical items are in good working order. One of the leading causes of a fire is faulty wiring. You should always employ a qualified electrician to check and repair your wiring.
- If you plan to keep your car's battery on charge, use a good quality charger/conditioner and ideally one that will cut off when the battery is fully charged.
- If you install a fire extinguisher, make sure that it is secured to a bracket and close to a door. We do recommend, however, that you do not attempt to fight a fire yourself. Make sure that all occupants of the property are safe and dial 999.
Aim to isolate sources of ignition and separate them from flammable materials.
Theft – when your car is in your garage, it is much easier to protect.
- It may sound too simple but make sure that your garage is locked, including any personnel doors. If you have an electric garage door and a separate door for people to access the garage, the garage door can usually be isolated by means of simply switching it off.
- There are a wide range of locks to secure garage doors, including into the frame and floor. Consider fitting security film to any windows or glass in doors and fit locks to both.
- Keep vehicle keys away from the garage, including spares.
- Collapsible security posts are inexpensive and a good physical barrier that prevent the car from being removed. It is also advisable to block the garage with other vehicles if possible.
Aim to create as many obstacles as possible to make theft difficult.
Water and other issues – flooding can cause significant damage to your vehicle and, in some cases, make it uneconomical to repair. If you know that your property is at risk of flooding, then look at ways to reduce the risk of water ingress. Keeping sandbags to hand, ensuring drains are clear and even parking the vehicle on higher ground outside the garage are all measures which can be taken. if your policy states that the car must be garaged, then you'll need to discuss with your broker in advance.
- If your garage is attached to your house, consider any burst pipes and leaking roofs. Whilst less likely to result in serious damage, exposure to water leaks can damage paintwork. Excessive condensation and humidity can affect convertible roofs and car interiors.
- Wildlife may seek a warm and dry place to stay during colder months. Rodents in particular can get almost anywhere in a vehicle and will damage wiring and any soft surface or material. Pay attention to any part of the garage where there may be access points.
Aim to create a watertight space and block any gaps in doors or windows
Leave it to the professionals – it may be simpler and safer to store your car with a professional storage company during the winter months. Here are a few tips if you are considering this.
- Are they a reputable, established firm?
- Do they advertise their exact location?
- Do they have set T&Cs for the storage of motor vehicles?
- If yes, are they attempting to remove, limit or restrict their liability for your car?
- Do they have adequate insurance cover for your vehicle?
- Do they have demonstrable measures in place to address fire and security risks?
If you do decide to use a car storage facility, we recommend that you keep your own policy in force and notify your insurer with details of the firm and their address. This will ensure that your car remains covered without reliance on someone else's policy.
Of course, you may continue to drive your car as it gets colder. We don't blame you – these cold and crisp winter mornings make for some fantastic drives. However, if you do decide to store it away until the weather improves, we hope that some of these tips are of use.
If you need any further assistance, please get in touch.