All cars need care to avoid salt build-up or damage from being parked under trees

As more families have at least two cars, it's a case of more vehicles left homeless with the first person home nabbing the garage or carport and the last person left to park on the road.

In some other cases garage space is used as an extra room for storage or even an extra play area for the kids leaving little or no room for the car.

I have also noticed when passing some retirement villages that some occupants' vehicles are left outside or parked in covered areas that still leave them exposed to the elements.

The retirement village scenario is the main reason for this week's Car Care. A mate of mine who runs his own service/repair workshop phoned to tell me about a car he had in for servicing.

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It was the classic "low mileage/little old lady's car" that only gets used on rare occasions and serviced accordingly. Apart from the odd dent the exterior of the car was in original condition and when sitting on its four wheels and viewed from a distance looked in pretty good shape.

On closer inspection, however, and when placed on the workshop hoist, the picture was different.

There was clear evidence of corrosion around some of the body and mechanical parts such as the exhaust system and brackets, radiator hose clips and even around the front and rear sub-frames.

Parts of the upper body components such as wiper arms and rubber seals were also suffering from premature deterioration.

While not directly exposed to the harsh ocean environment, the vehicle was parked about 4km inland and we suspected was still being affected by the salt air which on occasion may have been particularly bad depending on wind direction.

The car was washed sometimes but hardly ever driven on rainy days which left any salt from the sea breeze sitting around the undercarriage and over time creating the corrosion issue.

Driving the car on a rainy day would have helped wash the whole undercarriage down but understandably in this case it was those days that the car remained stationary.

So it's not a bad idea to give the undercarriage of any vehicle the occasional hose down to help remove any unwanted residue. It doesn't have to be a high pressure spray either; the garden hose and water pressure from the house connection is all that's required.

And while a regular hose down helps protect the upper bodywork, you can't beat a good old scrub with a soft brush and car wash to remove any unwanted fallout that can attack rubbers and wiper arms as well as the body paintwork itself.

If you tow a boat and launch and retrieve into salt water it's very important your vehicle, as well as the trailer and boat, is given a thorough hose down with fresh water to remove any salt water residue after use.

Being exposed to salt air is not the only reason for a vehicle's upper bodywork to suffer.

Parking under trees, for example, to help keep the interior temperatures of a vehicle down during the hot summer months, can create problems. Fallen leaves can get stuck in air vents, bird droppings can etch themselves into the paintwork while any nearby dust or industrial fallout close to where cars are parked can also damage paintwork.

If your vehicle does get covered in dust and grit always be careful just how you go about the clean-up.

Lots of water is essential to ensure scratching of the paintwork does not take place.
With the popularity of SUVs in recent times, the roof is something that is often overlooked when washing or grooming takes place.

You may need to open a door and gain the extra height by standing on the door sill to provide a better view of the roof condition and to treat as required.

If your vehicle is garaged on a regular basis then you do provide better all-round protection but are not off the hook totally, especially if the car sits outside during work hours.

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