There are enough hazards on the road to keep you on your toes to avoid injury or damage to your vehicle. But there are also places you want to avoid when parking to reduce the risk of damage to, or theft of, your vehicle.
Keep these things in mind when choosing a parking location:
- Near Construction Zones – Gravel, dirt, cement, overspray, falling objects…all will play havoc on your vehicle’s finish. Substances like cement can bond to your vehicle’s finish and won’t just “buff out.” Park a bit further away if you are able.
- Dark, Isolated Areas – This should be obvious. Deserted areas can not only be more dangerous to you personally, but they also afford “regular” and catalytic converter thieves the privacy they need to do their work. Most break-ins and catalytic converter thefts are quick, so why make it easier for these criminals to take what’s yours? If you have no parking alternatives, make sure any valuables are hidden from view to help avoid temptation, though it’s still not a 100% deterrent.
- Under Trees – During the summer in places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas, there’s almost always competition for shady parking spots. And while parking under a tree may give you the shade you are seeking, trees can also leave sticky sap, leaves, or “berries” on your vehicle. If not cleaned right away, these can damage your car’s finish. Windy days could also see a branch fall onto your vehicle.
- Mass Transit Stations – Transit station lots are often congested, meaning the chance for dings, dents, and minor collisions increases (see below). They’re also a smorgasbord for car thieves and break-ins. Parking under transit lines, such as the “L” in Chicago, can put your vehicle at risk from hot tar, oil, or other substances which can ruin your vehicle’s finish.
- Congested Areas of Large Parking Lots – We get it, the weather is extremely hot or cold, you’re tired, and you don’t want to walk across the parking lot to the store. But just like the transit station parking areas, crowded conditions mean an increased likelihood of dings, scratches, and dents. This goes double for lots with narrow parking spaces.
- Areas that Require Permits – This may not be as obvious as it seems. If you’re trying to park at a popular place, and it’s near a neighborhood, make sure the area doesn’t require a parking permit, because you don’t want to come out from dinner and find your car has a parking ticket or, worse, has been towed.
One other thing to keep in mind when choosing a parking spot is the condition of the vehicles that are next to the space you’re considering, such as construction trucks or older model vehicles with a lot of scratches and dents. Being proactive on where and how you park can go a long way in keeping your vehicle looking nice.