Snowbirds, tourists, and visitors from the North are used to ice, snow and salt degrading their cars, which can transform a gorgeous new ride to a clunker within just a few years. Some fly south hoping that this weather will be a reprieve. But those coming to Florida expecting their cars to last for 200,000 miles or more may be in for a rude awakening. This is a short guide to taking care of a car in Florida by avoiding rust, sun damage and other kinds of weathering that can happen to vehicles in the Sunshine State. Use our helpful tips from Floridians to make sure your car lasts as long as possible.
Do Florida Cars Rust?
Some might be surprised to hear that, yes, cars do rust in Florida. While the process might not be as fast as in Northern states where there’s salt on the roads during the winter months, Florida still has a lot of salinity in the air, especially at popular coastal cities. Unlike in the North, Florida cars don’t usually experience as much rust on the under-coating of cars; however, aluminum parts often do corrode. Peeling, chipping and cracking happens to Florida cars frequently. Cars that already have some spots of rust certainly won’t improve when hit with tumultuous rain and extreme heat. Keep in mind, though, that most of the damage done to cars in Florida is not a result of the salty ocean air, but a result of the hot sun.
How to Protect Car from Extreme Heat in Florida
- Oil: Stay up-to-date with your oil changes, as hot weather can cause your engine oil to thin. Hot engines need more lubrication.
- Fluids: Transmission, power steering, brake and other fluids also should be checked and topped off.
- Coolant: Your cooling system is the most important system to check, including belts and coolants. Overheating is a real threat in the summer months in Florida, and having to turn on the AC to draw heat away from the engine is not exactly enjoyable for your beachgoing passengers. Check it several times per year.
- Paint: Frequent washing and drying is how to protect your car paint from the sun in Florida. Add a layer of quality wax onto the car’s finish to help protect it from UV light. Do this every three to six months.
- Tires: Check your tire pressure, as hot pavement can lead to a blowout when your tires are not inflated enough. Also, keep in mind that bald tires can be very dangerous in Florida’s heavy rains.
- Air Filters: Because you’ll likely be using the air conditioning more often, you’re going to need to check your air filters more frequently than usual.
- Battery: Check your battery more frequently. Batteries tend to wear and fail quickly because of the use of the car’s air conditioning.
- Upholstery: Use a leather conditioner on your leather upholstery to prevent cracking and consider installing seat covers to prevent fabric seats from fading.
- Dashboard: When you have a chance, wipe down your interior dashboard with a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches as a result of dust and grit.
- Windshield Wipers: Florida rain and hurricanes can be as intense as the heat, and the heat can also make the wipers stick to the glass. Check them at least twice a year.
How to Store a Car in Florida Properly
- Find shade. Reduce the impact of the sun by parking in a garage, next to a tree, or wherever there might be a bit of reprieve from the harsh Florida sun. If you have a garage at home but are wondering how to keep garage cool in Florida, you might want to consider cheap insulation or covering your windows.
- Use a sun protector. Those sun protectors that people prop up on their windshields might seem unnecessary in the North, but are vital here, especially if you can’t park in a shady spot. Not only will it help prevent cracking and fading of the upholstery, it will also keep your car cool, reducing the amount of cool air you’ll need to pump into your car later.
- Lift your windshield wipers off the glass. Make sure your wipers don’t stick to your window by pulling the arms horizontally away from the car if you’re parking for a long period of time.
- Avoid using your parking brake. If you’re parking for a long stretch of time, avoid keeping your parking brake locked as it can get frozen. Using your parking brake is fairly unnecessary if you have an automatic transmission vehicle.
- When parking before a hurricane, seal it up. Lock your doors and windows. You may even consider sealing the window with tape or covering your vehicle with a tarp. Be sure to take photos of your car just in case damage does happen.
- If parking for a long period of time, periodically start the car. A lot of people in Florida are wondering how to upkeep a car during quarantine, and taking the time to start your vehicle every once in a while can ensure that the battery stays charged.
While sunlight is much less of a nuisance on your vehicle than snow, it’s important to follow your car’s typical maintenance schedule in order to get real results no matter what state you live in. Hopefully, though, with these tips specifically for Floridian drivers, your car will last a great deal longer than expected.
If you find that you need a new set of windshield wipers, an engine tune-up or any of the factors we mentioned before, stop by at one of our many locations spread across central Florida to get professional, personal assistance!