Have you ever thought about where you park your car when it’s wet? If you’re like a lot of Americans who park their car in a garage overnight — are you doing damage to your car? After all, it’s never good to have wet objects sitting around inside your house.
The short answer is that parking your wet car in an enclosed residential garage overnight is fine. Moisture issues in your garage can be very expensive and dangerous, but there’s not nearly enough moisture on your car to cause these issues. The air in your garage will allow your car to dry safely without causing any problems.
With that being said, is it okay to park a wet car in a garage overnight? I’ll be answering this question and more in this quick guide. By the end, you’ll know exactly where to park your car after driving through the rain.
Why Parking a Wet Car Matters
Some people might not think twice about parking their wet car — why does it matter where you park it? In general, it doesn’t matter. In most scenarios, your car will dry without an issue.
When you park a wet car outside overnight, you’ll find a dry car in the morning. This happens because the moisture evaporates into the air and away from the car. If the car is in an enclosed space, then the moisture will evaporate into the air of the room. For instance, if you park in an enclosed garage, then the moisture will be trapped in the garage.
A problem can arise if there isn’t enough airflow. Your car needs enough air to accept the moisture as it dries, and water can only accept so much moisture before it hits its limit.
With that being said, if there isn’t enough airflow, then your car won’t dry properly. It’s the same idea as putting a wet plate from the dishwasher into the cabinet. The plate doesn’t have enough air in the cabinet, so it won’t dry safely.
This problem doesn’t matter if you’re thinking about parking in a public garage or an open-air garage. There’s plenty of air to dry your car fully. Specifically, I’ll be talking about residential enclosed garages, like the type of garage that’s attached to your house that you pull into each day.
Some Issues with Moisture in Garages
Before talking specifically about wet cars in garages, let’s talk about moisture in a garage in general. If you live in a more humid or rainy area, then you’ve probably seen some of these issues before. For the rest of us, let’s find out what can too much moisture can do to a garage.
Moisture Damage to Objects in the Garage
From conversations I’ve had in the past, one of the biggest issues with wet garages is damage to objects stored in garages. Tools will rust quicker, moisture-sensitive parts will crumble, and plastics might start to yellow or change colors.
Your collection of stuffed animals? The garage isn’t the best place for them.
For reference, I’m talking about any object that’s sitting on the floor, on shelves, or on a table in your garage. This is only a problem if your garage has a big leak or some type of perpetual moisture issue.
Premature Rusting Inside the Garage
There are a lot of metal parts that are used in the construction of your garage. Namely, the motor, tracks, and pulley system of your garage door likely uses metals that are uncoated. All of these parts work together to safely lift and lower your garage whenever you press a button.
Once these parts start rusting, there’s very little you can do. If the rusting goes on for long enough, then parts will fail, and your garage door can either drop or get stuck in position.
You might know this already, but rust is a chemical process called oxidation. It only happens when oxygen, moisture (water), and exposed metals come in contact with one another.
With more moisture, the process becomes more likely and quicker. This means that too much moisture in your garage can cause structural damage and destroy the inner workings of your garage door.
Can Create Mold
Another very common byproduct of excessive moisture in the home is mold. This is a fungus that grows in dark, damp areas. There’s a good chance your garage doesn’t have any windows, so it’s already dark by default.
If there’s too much “unchecked moisture” in a typical garage, mold will likely pop up. Some forms of mold can be fatal if they’re breathed in by us, so it’s important to keep this fungus away.
My buddy is a home inspector, and one of his tips for me was to follow the mold in order to find the source of a leak or high-moisture area. When your garage has too much moisture in it, you’ll start seeing mold on the ceiling, corners of walls, and under shelves.
It Can Cause Warping
Finally, there are a lot of wooden parts used to frame your garage and garage door system. Just like how metal rusts with too much moisture, wood will warp in the same conditions.
A lot of times, untreated wood is used along the ceiling of your garage to mount the garage tracks. After all, why would you apply an expensive moisture-resistant coating to a span of wood that should never see moisture?
When your garage has a moisture problem, these wooden beams will start to bend out of shape (also known as “warping”). If your garage tracks aren’t perfectly square, parallel, and level, then your garage door won’t open anymore.
That means that the now-warped pieces of wood will prevent your garage door from working. Fixing this after the fact is very expensive, time-consuming, and probably requires a garage professional to redo the tracks altogether.
Can a Wet Car Cause Moisture Issues in a Garage?
Now it’s time to talk about your wet car in a garage. Is a wet car alone enough to cause any of these moisture issues in a garage? In almost every case, no. A wet car doesn’t provide enough moisture to cause mold, warping, or premature rusting.
I grew up with a two-car garage in an area of the country that saw rain a lot. Wet cars would be parked in our garage overnight for decades without a hint of moisture issues within the garage.
It’s all a matter of scale. Look at how much space is in your garage versus how much water is actually on the car. The only areas that are wet are probably the wheels, body, and maybe the undercarriage.
As you’re driving home, a lot of water flies off your car thanks to the aerodynamics, speed, and low friction of your car’s surfaces. It’s not like you have to wring out your vehicle and you’re left with gallons of spare water in your garage.
The average single-car garage is 22’-0” x 14’-0” x 7’-0” (L x W x H), which gives a total volume of 2,156 cubic feet. A gallon of water (which would be a lot to drip from a wet car) only takes up 0.16 cubic feet.
Since there’s so much dry air to accept the moisture from your car, there’s very little impact of parking a wet car in a garage.
Is It Okay to Park a Wet Car in a Garage?
To put it simply: yes, it’s okay to park a wet car in a garage. The garage is large enough to dry your car without causing any moisture damage to the garage.
It’s also safe for your vehicle. Your car’s exterior is built to be nature-resistant, and that includes being resistant to moisture. Water staying on your hood while the car dries does not pose any issues — unless there are deep scratches in the hood, but that’s a different problem.
Some Things to Consider
While parking a wet car in a garage is safe in most cases, there are a few things to consider. Take a look at this quick list to get started.
Don’t Use a Car Cover on Wet Cars
A car cover is not the same as a garage. Using a car cover on a wet car can lead to some extensive damage to your vehicle, and it’s the leading reason why people think car covers cause rust.
The reason? There’s not enough airflow since the cover is in contact with the car.
Ensure Your Car Dries Overnight
There might be cases where people in more humid areas with smaller garages don’t wake up to a dry car. Before applying anything you’ve learned in this article, do a quick test: leave your wet car in your garage overnight and see if it dries.
If it doesn’t dry, then it’s likely not safe to park your car there. Having your car perpetually wet is never a good idea. Parts will start to degrade, and rust will form.
You should only continue to park your car in the garage if it’s dry when you wake up.
Give it a Quick Dry if You’re Worried
If you’re a little worried about parking your wet car in a garage, that’s not a problem. If you use a few microfiber towels, you can quickly give your car a dry before closing your garage for the night.
These towels are very absorbent and safe to use for wiping the surface of your car. Since there’s not a lot of moisture to pick up, you’ll notice that it’s very easy to reuse the towel.
Don’t Store Cars with Deep Scratches
If your car has deep scratches, then there’s a chance that the raw metal of your car is exposed. If that’s the case, you want to avoid moisture at any cost. Parking a wet car overnight means that there’s a big chance of causing corrosion across your car.
If your car has deep scratches, it’s best to fix them first. Until then, be sure to fully dry the scratched areas every time your car is wet.
Now you know more about how your wet car and garage interact with each other. It’s okay to park a wet car in an enclosed garage overnight. It’s because there’s a ton of air available to dry your car and a small amount of moisture being wicked from your car in the first place.
If you have more car questions or want to learn about maintenance, explore the rest of my blog. I have a lot of helpful content that will answer your biggest questions. Also, check out my list of highly recommended car products to make your life a little easier.