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HomeDriver's ResourcesWhat You Should Do With Your Car When Going on Vacation

If you’re going on vacation and won’t be using your car for an extended period, it’s essential to ensure that your vehicle remains in good condition during your absence. Here are steps and considerations you should keep in mind:

  1. Choose a Safe Location:
    • Garage: If you have a garage, this is the best place to keep your car. It will protect it from the elements and potential theft or vandalism.
    • Secure Parking Lot: If you don’t have a garage, consider parking it in a secure, well-lit location, possibly with surveillance cameras or a guard.
    • Long-term Airport Parking: Some airports offer secure long-term parking services. They may be a little expensive, but the convenience is worth considering.
  2. Maintain the Battery:
    • Disconnect the battery: If you’re going to be away for a very long time, you might want to disconnect the battery to prevent it from discharging.
    • Battery Tender: Alternatively, use a battery tender or maintainer that keeps the battery charged without overcharging it.
  3. Tires:
    • Inflate Properly: Ensure tires are properly inflated to the recommended pressure.
    • Avoid Flat Spots: Long immobility can cause flat spots on tires. If you’re planning to leave the car for a very extended period, consider putting the car on jack stands or rotating the tires once in a while.
  4. Clean and Cover:
    • Wash: Clean the car to remove any dirt, bird droppings, or tree sap.
    • Wax: A good wax can provide an extra layer of protection.
    • Interior: Vacuum and clean the inside to avoid any unwanted smells upon return. Make sure no food or perishables are left inside.
    • Car Cover: If the car is outdoors, use a high-quality car cover to protect it from dust, dirt, and rain.
  5. Fluids:
    • Ensure all fluids (oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid) are at appropriate levels. If the car is due for an oil change soon, it might be best to do it before leaving.
  6. Fuel:
    • Fill the tank to prevent moisture from building up inside and to keep the seals from drying out. Adding a fuel stabilizer can prevent gasoline from deteriorating if you’re gone for several months.
  7. Insurance and Registration:
    • Check the expiration dates on your registration and insurance. Renew them if they’ll expire while you’re away.
  8. Ask a Friend or Neighbor:
    • If possible, ask someone you trust to start the car and let it run for a few minutes every couple of weeks. This helps circulate the fluids and keeps the battery charged.
  9. Pests:
    • Ensure windows and vents are closed to prevent pests from getting inside. You might also consider using mothballs or rodent repellents around the vehicle, especially if it’s stored in a location prone to pests.
  10. Handbrake:
  • Rather than engaging the handbrake, which can cause the brake pads to stick to the discs or drums if left for a prolonged period, use wheel chocks to prevent the car from moving.
  1. Emergency Services:
  • If your car has a system like OnStar or another emergency response service, ensure it’s active. Some of these services can alert you if your car is moved or tampered with.
  1. Spare Key:
  • Leave a spare key with someone you trust, just in case of emergencies.
  1. Climate Considerations:
  • Heat: If your location experiences high temperatures, try to park in a shaded area or use sun shades to prevent the interior from overheating and to protect the dashboard and seats from UV damage.
  • Cold: For cold climates, a full antifreeze check is crucial. Make sure your coolant is suitable for the temperatures you expect while away. It’s also wise to ensure door seals are in good condition to prevent them from sticking in icy conditions.
  1. Remove Perishables and Valuables:
  • Aside from food, ensure that items like makeup, medicines, or other heat-sensitive items are removed. Also, make sure to remove or hide any valuables like electronics, important documents, or money.
  1. Document Your Car’s Condition:
  • Take photos of your car’s interior and exterior. This way, you have a record of its condition in case of any issues or discrepancies when you return.
  1. Car Rental/Storage Services:
  • Some services allow you to rent out your car while you’re away, a way to make some money and have the vehicle driven occasionally. If you opt for this, ensure you’re covered insurance-wise.
  • If you’re uncomfortable leaving your car at home, consider vehicle storage facilities that specialize in short-term car storage.
  1. Avoid Parking Under Trees:
  • Sap, bird droppings, and falling branches can damage your car’s paint. Even if a location seems shady and convenient, the potential paint damage can be costly to fix.
  1. Insurance Adjustments:
  • Some insurance companies offer reduced rates for cars that aren’t being driven. It’s worth checking with your insurer to see if they offer a “storage” option.
  1. Maintenance Check Upon Return:
  • Before driving your car after a long vacation, perform a quick maintenance check. Look over the tires, test the brakes, check fluid levels, and listen for any unusual noises.
  1. Maintain Good Ventilation:
  • If you’re storing the car in a garage, ensure there’s proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew growth, especially in humid climates.
  1. Alarms and Security Systems:
  • Ensure that all security systems are active and functioning. Some modern alarms have a battery backup system, which is useful if the main car battery drains.
  1. Update GPS/Navigation Systems:
  • If you have in-car navigation, ensure it’s updated before you leave. You’ll want the latest maps and information when you return, especially if you’re coming back from an extended trip.

By taking these precautions, you can ensure that your car remains in good condition and is ready to drive once you return from your vacation.

Can I leave my car at the airport for 2 weeks?

Yes, you can leave your car at the airport for two weeks in Canada. Most major Canadian airports offer long-term parking options. However, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Cost: Airport parking can be expensive, especially for extended periods. Rates can vary depending on the airport and the type of parking you choose (e.g., economy vs. premium).
  2. Availability: During peak travel seasons, long-term parking lots might fill up quickly. It’s a good idea to check the availability beforehand or even reserve a spot if the airport allows.
  3. Security: While airport parking lots typically have security measures such as surveillance cameras and patrols, it’s still a public space. Ensure you don’t leave any valuables in your car, or if you do, make sure they are out of sight.
  4. Weather: In Canada, depending on the time of year and the region, your car could be exposed to snow, ice, and cold temperatures. If leaving your car in an open lot during winter months, prepare for potential snow accumulation on and around your car.
  5. Preparation: Before leaving your car:
    • Make sure it’s locked.
    • Check that all windows and sunroofs are fully closed.
    • Ensure your parking brake is engaged.
    • If possible, park in a well-lit area.
    • Take a photo or note the location of your car so you can easily find it upon your return.
  6. Alternative Options: If you’re concerned about the cost or security of airport parking:
    • Consider off-airport parking facilities. Some businesses offer parking services near airports with shuttle services to and from the terminal, often at a lower rate than on-site airport parking.
    • Look into ride-sharing, taxis, or public transportation as alternatives to driving and parking your car at the airport.
  7. Insurance: It might be a good idea to inform your car insurance provider that you’ll be leaving your vehicle at the airport for an extended period, just to be aware of any stipulations or conditions in your policy.

Always check the specific airport’s official website or contact them directly for detailed information about long-term parking options, rates, and other related services.

About the Author: Valerie D. Hahn

Valerie is an insurance editor, journalist, and business professional at RateLab. She has more than 15 years of experience in personal financial products. She strives to educate readers and ensure that they are properly protected.

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