How to Prepare Cars for Long-Term Parking
For those of us who travel for business, pleasure or both, we know one of the greatest concerns with air travel is leaving your car behind while you’re gone. If you’re planning to leave for a long period, then you know that every day you’re gone your car will be sitting there at the airport. Changes in temperature, aging car parts and even an occasional would-be burglar pose very real risks to your car.
Yet this is a process so many of us regularly go through. If you travel through the nation’s largest airports — such as Newark Liberty — you know that you won’t be alone in using long-term parking. In fact, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, over 35 million passengers moved through the airport in 2014 alone.
That’s why companies like SNAP Parking have worked hard to provide long-term parking solutions that help alleviate this central anxiety of airline travel. By providing secure indoor parking, you can feel confident that your car is protected while you’re gone.
However, while our long-term parking solutions do provide a level of security and protection that exceeds that of traditional airport parking, you still want to follow certain rules for long-term parking car care. When you return to your car, you want it to start, be comfortable and you want all of your stuff to be there.
That’s why we’re putting together this guide on preparing cars for long-term parking. We take convenience, service and parked car safety at Newark Airport very seriously, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more that you can do to make sure your property is secure when you travel and that your ride home goes smoothly and safely.
Remove Valuables From Your Car
This should be the first rule of long-term parking, regardless of what lot you’re using. Even in a lot with security, you don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to take something important from you.
If you normally keep CDs or mp3 players in your car, you want to make sure to remove them before you park. Additionally, recently thieves have been targeting cars that have visible white wires, as these usually accompany popular high-end tech devices. So make sure any white phone chargers aren’t visible before you leave your car.
You also want to take important documents out of your glove box and take them with you. Not only could they be important in case something does go wrong, but they could also provide valuable information to would-be identity thieves.
Also, never leave an extra key in your car. This will give thieves yet another level of access by allowing them easy access to your trunk, while also giving them the chance of stealing your actual car itself.
Finally, make sure that you clean out any loose change. Unfortunately, desperate people are the ones who often break into cars, so even a few dollars in quarters can be a temptation.
While secure parking solutions prevent the vast majority of issues for long-term parkers, removing valuables is an easy thing to do — and is worth it even if a break in is a long shot.
Clear Out Trash Too
Clearing out trash not only makes you car more pleasant for the ride home, it also adds another level of security.
Would-be thieves will often take advantage of a cluttered car, knowing that you might drive off and be half way home before you notice that anything is gone. Clean cars, on the other hand, give the appearance that everything is already secure. Furthermore, a thief won’t be curious if there’s something hiding under the piles of fast food bags and work papers if there isn’t any clutter in the first place.
Keep in mind, even if you only have trash in your car, a thief might do a lot of damage breaking in before they discover that there isn’t anything of value.
You also want to make sure that your car is trash free simply to ensure that your car smells good when you return home. While you may regularly roll down your windows to air out your car, when you leave it in long-term parking, it won’t get a breath of air for days and weeks at a time. That will give a half-used ketchup packet or an almost empty milkshake cup an opportunity to stink up your car. This is especially true if you’re leaving your car during the summer. While it may be under cover and protected from the heat of the sun, a parking garage can still get quite warm. So don’t set yourself up for an unpleasant surprise for when you return home!
Get Rid of Old Receipts
While a clean car may be more pleasant to return to, you definitely want to make sure that you don’t have any unnecessary or loose receipts collecting in the passenger side foot well. If you’re traveling for business, you likely already have quite the collection to turn in for reimbursement. You don’t want to cause yourself future confusion by adding unnecessary receipts to the mix.
Furthermore, you don’t want to misplace any important travel documents. So limit the papers in your car to those that you need for the trip, and make sure that they are properly organized so that you don’t lose them.
Top Off Your Fluids
When you long-term park your car, you want to make sure that you have topped off all of your fluids. This is especially important if you’re leaving your car for an especially long time.
First, make sure that your car has a full tank of gas when you arrive. This is especially true during the cold months, as you want to make sure that there isn’t residual moisture in your gas tank, which could potentially freeze. If you’re going to leave your car for a month or more, you should also add a gas stabilizer, available at any auto parts store. This will help keep your gasoline fresh for up to a year.
Having a full tank when you get back to your car also makes the trip home convenient. If you’re jet-lagged or simply anxious to get home, having a full tank allows you to get on the road and into your house just a little more quickly. After a long time away, even a little time saved is worth a little extra effort ahead of time.
You’ll also want to change your oil and top off its levels before you head off. Again, an extended period spent parked can put extra pressure on your car’s lubrication system. Old or low oil can wreak havoc on a car starting up for the first time in over a month.
Although it’s not actually a fluid, make sure that your tires are fully inflated. It is common for tires to lose a little bit of pressure when a car is sitting for a long period, so you want to ensure that your tires aren’t already low to begin with.
Finally, you want to double-check your wiper fluid. While this may seem like a minor concern, you want to make sure that your car is prepared for inclement weather travel. By topping up your wiper fluid, you’ll be better prepared for any issues you may encounter while you’re traveling back home.
Give Your Car a Checkup
You also want to confirm that your car is in peak shape before you leave it parked for an extended period. When you leave your car for a long time, you run the risk of exacerbating even small issues. You don’t want to come home to a car that won’t start!
Start by confirming that your battery has a full charge. Batteries have a tendency to go bad when they aren’t used for a while, especially when they are already significantly depleted. This is especially important if you’re leaving your car in long-term parking during the winter, as cold batteries often have more trouble than warm ones.
If it is summer, you’re going to want to be confident that your air conditioning is working well. Again, leaving your car unattended for a long period can put added pressure on your air conditioning system. You’d hate to get back after a long trip only to suffer through a drive in 100-degree weather without any A/C.
You also want to make sure that your car’s various systems are in good working condition. You don’t want to come back to your car, have it not start and then spend lots of money on a tow service followed by expensive repairs, especially if the damage was avoidable through a little regular maintenance.
Finally, you want to check and ensure that there aren’t any significant structural issues. Cold weather can make these sorts of things worse, especially if you car isn’t warmed up for a long period. This can be especially dangerous if you plan to drive an extended distance after returning to your car. You may not notice the issue until you have been on the highway for a while. Moreover, you definitely don’t want to discover a serious structural issue while driving 65 miles per hour!
So make sure your car is in good repair. If your trusted mechanic advises that you fix something now, do so, because that issue can easily become a much more serious and expensive problem after not using your car for a while.
Eliminate the Risk of Weather Damage
With many long-term parking lots, you also have to worry about what may happen during inclement weather while your car is sitting exposed to the elements. However, the best long-term parking solutions, such as SNAP Parking in Newark, eliminate this concern by ensuring that all long-term parking is under cover indoors.
Consider these alternatives. You’re taking a month long business trip in the middle of winter and you need to leave your car in long-term parking. If you use a standard long-term lot, you’ll likely spend the entirety of your trip checking the weather around your car just to ensure that it’s not covered by inches of snow or exposed to damaging weather. However, even if you do notice that bad winter weather headed your car’s way, what can you actually do about it? Nothing! Instead, you will be anxious and without the ability to change anything.
Here’s another scenario. You’re traveling abroad for two weeks as a summer vacation. Again, you have to leave your car and you opt for an outdoor long-term parking lot. For two weeks, the harsh summer sun will be beating down on your car, potentially damaging your paint job while exposing the interior of your car to extreme heat conditions.
By choosing an indoor long-term parking lot, you’ll be eliminating the worry of depending on a positive weather forecast. Harsh sun, hail, sleet or even inadvertent damage from a snowplow will be none of your concern. Instead, you will come back to a car that has had a roof over its head for the duration of your trip.
Choose 24 Hour Security
While the vast majority of long-term lots make some effort at security, the truth is some are far better than others. You want to do your research and make sure that the lot you choose is secure, not just through effective gating — although that is important — but also through 24 hour surveillance.
Look for a lot that includes closed circuit security monitoring and that is staffed by real people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not only will tightened security catch the rare individual with ill intent, but also its reputation as a secure lot will help to deter thieves from even making an attempt.
Although you never want to neglect securing your property and making sure that you aren’t tempting thieves with exposed valuables, you also want to make sure your car is left somewhere with the lowest likelihood of criminals even looking into your windows.
Know How to Look Over Your Car When You Get it Back
You also want to be familiar with the various quick checks you should perform the moment you get your car back. These little checkups will help ensure that your car is ready for travel even before you get off the lot.
Start by checking your wipers and wiper fluid. If it has been exceptionally cold, there is a chance that your wipers may have frozen, and you don’t want to discover this in a moment when you really need them and you’re driving fast.
You also want to look under your car quickly to check that you haven’t been leaking any fluids while you were gone. Again, discovering that you’re low on oil or brake fluid while already on the highway could spell disaster.
Also, confirm that you have a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment. You want to know that your tire pressure is where it ought to be before getting on the road.
Finally, don’t be afraid to inspect your car. While a good parking garage service will do all they can to protect your car, you also want to catch any visible issues before getting home.
Traditional long-term parking is known for being low on convenience. The lot is the farthest from the airport, and you have to build lengthy shuttle times into your arrival plans. However, private long-term solutions like SNAP Parking are committed to providing their customers with the little conveniences that greatly reduce travel stress and make trips to the airport a lot easier.
Valet parking is a great option, as it eliminates much of the risk of parking in large, anonymous lots. In a traditional self-park lot, someone may park next to you, ding your door and then leave again before you even get back to your car. You will have no way of knowing who is responsible for the damage and thus no options for getting it addressed.
Also, consider shuttle bus travel times. Some long-term shuttles take a half hour or longer to get your from your car to your terminal. However, at SNAP Parking, we pride ourselves in providing our customers with a shuttle time that averages around 5 minutes. We will drop you off right at your terminal and we will even be there to pick you up when you get back.
You will also find that the best lots like SNAP offer convenient services that make traveling easier and more comfortable. Want you car freshly washed upon your return? We can do that! What about a coat of wax, applied by hand, to protect your paint job? We can do that too! We even offer full detailing services, which will make you feel like you’re getting into a brand new car when you get back from your trip.
We also offer gas fill-ups and oil changes, just in case you ran out of time and were unable to get those things taken care of before your flight. We’ll even remove any small dents that have been annoying you, all while you’re gone. Not only are we keeping your car safe, but we’re also taking care of those nagging auto care chores while you’re away.
Finally, because you can book your spot ahead of time, you will have someone expecting you when you arrive. That means that you don’t have to wonder if a shuttle will be arriving to pick you up in a couple minutes or half an hour! Because we have memberships and reward clubs, you will even find incredible deals if you’re a frequent traveler.
These various conveniences make traveling much easier while actually helping you save both time and money. And they aren’t available from standard long-term lots!
If you’re looking for long-term parking at Newark Airport, look no further than SNAP Parking. We have dedicated ourselves to perfecting the craft of parked car safety at Newark airport and we take pride in providing our customers with unparalleled security, convenience and value.
We know that air travel through Newark can be stressful — in fact, USA Today recently rated Newark as the 15th busiest airport in the United States! Regardless, we want your travel experience through Newark Liberty to go as smoothly as possible, and while we can’t do anything about security lines or canceled flights, we can make sure that your car is safe and cared for while you’re away.
We have been filling our 230,000 sq. ft. lot using our 100% valet service for years now, and we think it’s time that you experience all that long-term parking can be. So if you’re planning to fly out of Newark in the near future, make sure to book your spot today. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our SNAP Pass and find additional ways to save while you travel.
Travel is stressful, so why not make it a little bit easier. When you park with us, you know it will always be a SNAP!