One of the benefits of owning a single-family home over a condo or an apartment is the garage. As homeowners, we use the garage to protect our second biggest investment: our car. Putting a roof over a car protects it from Mother Nature and cuts down on the need for car washes. However, as the contents of our homes spill into this wide-open space, the tables can turn: The space meant to protect our car can actually become a threat to it. Use these garage hacks to help you keep your garage a safe haven for your car.
Guiding Your Parking Job
One of the biggest challenges of using the garage effectively is getting the car in the right spot consistently. If you pull the car in too far it could be hard to use the washing machine … not far enough and the garage door won’t close. Being out of position to the left or right by just a few inches could mean difficulty exiting the vehicle or chipping the paint on the edge of the doors.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good parking assistant solutions available. A metal parking plate is one of those solutions. Attached to the cement floor of the garage, it acts as a small bump under your tires, letting you know you’re almost there. A tire stop at the front prevents you from pulling in too far. It acts like a person guiding you into the perfect place every time you enter the garage.
A high-tech solution in the same price range is an ultrasonic garage parking sensor. This involves installing two separate components on the garage wall. First, you mount the ultrasonic sensor at bumper level, and then the highly visible indicator lamp is mounted at eye level. This unit is battery-powered so there’s no need to run electricity to it. Set up is also a breeze. When the automobile is in the ideal position, you simply press the set button, and that’s it. The next time you pull into the garage the light will remain green until you get close. It turns yellow when you’re getting closer and then red when it’s time to stop the vehicle.
Of course, the old-school and low-cost method of assuring your vehicle is in the right place in the garage is the old tennis-ball-on-a-string trick. Attach a string to a tennis ball and then to the garage ceiling using an expanding drywall anchor. Better yet, home improvement stores sell a ready-to to-go kit in the $5 to $6 range. The kit uses a retractable cord and a bright yellow ball that’s ready to install. Simply place it in the ideal spot for your vehicle to stop, and when your car taps the ball, you tap the brakes.
Cushioning the Hard Spots
After you get the car in the right spot, there’s a few other things you can do to protect it from the garage. If you open the door and there is a chance that it can contact the wall or a support pole, it can cause damage. Protect your doors by creating a soft surface on the contact area.
Although there are a lot of products available that will do the job, I like to use rubber molding for boat docks and finger piers. These air-filled rub rails provide superior smudge free protection and are inexpensive. You can find these made from recycled materials and they last for decades in harsh environments.
Another quick hack is to use the familiar swimming pool “noodles” to wrap around support poles. Simply cut a lengthwise slit in the Styrofoam noodle and wrap it around the pole to create a cushioned point of contact for car doors.
Clearing the Clutter
One of your car’s biggest enemies in the garage is all of the stuff. Lawn mowers, sports equipment, bikes and yard toys can quickly pile up and pose a threat to the finish and body of your car. You may have seen the organizing hacks using PVC pipe to hang garden tools. Here’s another idea: when there’s no room around your car, look above your car. Overhead storage racks are made to fasten to the ceiling of your garage, where you can store bins and even securely hang bicycles. In general, you should aim to get as much of the clutter in your garage up and off the floor as possible: install inexpensive storage cabinets, hang lawn tools on wall organizers, and assemble storage shelves to hold well-labeled bins, toys and equipment. If the floor is clear of clutter, you won’t have to struggle to squeeze your car around it.
Avoiding Unwanted Critters
As fall settles in and winter approaches our garage becomes an inviting seasonal vacation home for rodents. In addition to being attracted to the warmer spaces of the garage, rodents love the toasty engine of an automobile even more. Under-hood insulation makes perfect bedding for the varmints. Once they move in, they can cause expensive damage.
Fortunately, the long list of products available to discourage these transient visitors allows us to choose a method that is right for our family. For me, I like to keep them out so I don’t have to deal with the problem when they get in. A garage door rodent guard covers the vulnerable rubber weather-strip with a steel shield that prevents the rodent from chewing its way into the garage. At a cost of around $10-$15 it’s a good place to start.
Mark Gittelman is a homeowner, car enthusiast and writer for CARFAX. He prides himself in sharing helpful hacks to maintain your car value.