In southern Europe (latitude 40-45°) parking cars in garages is common, or at least many houses have garages for that. Old cars parked outside can be easily recognised due to ruined paint and rubbers.

In the Netherlands (latitude 50-54°, similar to Vancouver also concerning weather) apparently that is way less common. Even people owning garages don't use them for parking.

What are the long term (15-25 years) effects of parking outside in a very humid environment? (75-90% all the year long)

I list the ones I can think of:

  • ice on windscreen in winter
  • bird droppings

Overall rusting is probably equivalent, since garages have often vents.

I don't know whether paint ages significantly or not at 50-54°N, for sure in 20 years it does in southern Europe.

  • Another point, from my own experience: After parking outside like about 10 years, the plastic on the front optics of my Ford Focus C-Max became completely opaque/milky. I suspect it's because the UV alters the plastic. Had to change them.
    – Scrontch
    Feb 1, 2017 at 16:40
  • 1
    Even when vented, a garage is much warmer (and hence, drier) than outside.
    – Hobbes
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:44
  • Houses in the Netherlands are often small (because they're very expensive in much of the country), so people prioritize having an extra room over using the garage to store their car.
    – Hobbes
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:46

5 Answers 5


I live in the Netherlands.

  • Ice on the windows is an issue, but can be mitigated. And we don't have too many days where temperature is below zero.
  • To avoid bird droppings, don't park under a tree.
  • With modern cars, rust isn't an issue, unless you live right by the coast (close enough that the air contains salt spray).
  • Paint fade happens, but only for colors sensitive to fading (mostly red), and is noticeable mostly in cars at least 10 years old.
  • Rubber can degrade, but again is only seen on old cars.
  • Yeah I'm asking specifically about old cars, I specified 15-25 years of exposure to outside parking. I didn't know that different paints fade differently. I have a 23 y.o. red car and indeed it's no more as it was. And this would be mitigated by parking indoor?
    – FarO
    Feb 1, 2017 at 14:13
  • Yes, paint fade, rust, and rubber degradation would be mitigated by parking indoors.
    – Hobbes
    Feb 1, 2017 at 14:20
  • 2
    "With modern cars, rust isn't an issue, unless you live right by the coast" Or in places that get snow, rust is more likely from driving than being parked.
    – Random832
    Feb 1, 2017 at 17:51
  • And actually in places that get snow (and thus roads are salted), it's worse to park in a garage because the rust reaction like most chemical reactions has a temperature dependence: the hotter it is, the faster the reaction is. Thus, to avoid rust the underside of the car should be washed thoroughly after they stop putting more salt on the roads and before the summer. Or if you're lazy, it's possible to get a rust protection job.
    – juhist
    Feb 2, 2017 at 16:08

The areas exposed to the sun are the most vulnerable. Paint, rubber trim and moldings, and the interior are the most vulnerable.

  • Keeping the car clean and waxed will prevent virtually all paint fading.
  • A windshield sunshade solves the interior problem.
  • Keeping the rubber moldings like new is a bit harder, but there are rubber dressings you can apply.

The colder climate is to your benefit as it's slightly easier on rubber parts, but the UV rays from the sun are your #1 enemy.

  • Absolutely : it's the UV that does the damage - especially to (winter) tyres.
    – Solar Mike
    Feb 1, 2017 at 15:41

I think the real danger is a tree growing up through your vehicle. Tree sap can be washed off, and a car can be repainted, but it's much more work if a tree grows through your car. Here's some pictures of the devastation that can cause to a vehicle...

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I live in the Netherlands, and i have a '76 Triumph TR7. It was imported to NL in '79, and it was stored outside most of its life until 2005. It was then stored under a carport until 3 years ago, when i started the renovation of the TR7.

I have resprayed the car, but the paint(Bright red!) was still rather nice. No blisters or faded areas were present. The paint as a whole was a little bit faded, but I only resprayed it because I could get it done for a small price.

Most of the rubbers, including the tyres, were still pretty nice. The rear glass rubber, the door rubbers, the rubbers around the head lights.. The suspension rubbers even felt like new. All thin rubber seals were dried and cracked though, as were the rubber gaiters of the steering rack and the shockabsorbers. The harder pieces of rubber to seal the side windows were also cracked.

The interior is still intact and looks quite nice. It's not as pitch-black as it used to be, but it's still fine. The interior is a combination of synthetic wool-like carpet, skai/leatherette, and cotton(seats). The skai lost it's stretchiness a bit but i reused it. The cotton of the seats was still really fine.

The things that got really ugly and broke, were everything made from foam(-rubber), and plastic. The foamrubber got brittle and had cracked down, the parts that didn't see sunlight had aged just as hard as the parts that did.

All the black plastic was faded. The bumpers, dashboard, and the interior were gray in an ugly way after all those years. I couldn't retouch them with wax, spray or anything else. They're still tough though, but they don't look so nice anymore.

Rust was present in hollow spaces, but I don't think it would have been really better if the car was stored inside. It's quite humid here. Parking your car in a grarage keeps it from looking old sooner, but it doesn't affect the quality that much i think. And believe me, Triumph wasn't really known for their outstanding build quality, especially not the TR7.

I hope this input is of some use for you. Are you planning to move to the NL?

  • Already here :) Evaluating how much a garage is important for cars when buying a house, since it could be used simply as workshop: most Dutch leave the car outside even when a garage is available! I have a Panda from 1993 that has the red paint faded (wax helps, but the coating is lost) and that is rusted here and there in the more hidden places (but it was never meant to be a luxus car/paint/finish...). Plastics and rubbers are still nice.
    – FarO
    Feb 2, 2017 at 13:04
  • 1
    @OlafM Well, welcome and enjoy the wondrous weather here! I'd say a garage with the house is a huge plus. The house's value will be significantly higher because of that; space is rather scarce in NL as you've probably noticed already. As houses are not so terribly big here, a garage is also a much needed space of storage. Your attic fills up with stuff rather soon. So whether you'l park your car in it or not, i'd certainly buy a house with a garage. Especially if you like to DIY stuff, it's a must.
    – Bart
    Feb 2, 2017 at 15:45
  • For info: three years with the Panda in a common garage underground but open to the outside (very humid when it rains, but ventilated) caused no visible rust increase. One year in front of my new house cause a visible increase of the rust spots below the paint in multiple areas.
    – FarO
    Sep 3, 2020 at 7:23

Couple of items that have not been mentioned yet.

  • Tree sap
  • Leaves in the vents
  • Interior plastic (dashboards in particular) can warp and crack
  • Animal damage or infestation (squirrels like to chew on wires)
  • -

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