Life in the tropics is wonderful. Great beaches, fantastic roads winding along coastlines and through mountains, countless villages offering a selection of local produce and gourmet feasts and for the most part, magic weather all year round. Of course as most of the world prepares for snow and the southern parts of Australia prepare themselves for stinking hot days that could make their world catch fire at the slightest provocation, we in the North prepare for the wet season.
If like me, you love your cars then the wet season can be horrible. That musty smell, mould everywhere, mice using your car as a hotel to keep dry and the frustration of getting in and out in the rain can drive you bonkers. Here are some of my best ideas to care for your car this wet season.
1. Be prepared. I always carry an umbrella, a chamois and a pair of thongs in the car. The umbrella is obvious but make sure you shake off as much water as you can before you pack it away. A chamois is a great option to soak up any water that makes it into your car. Super absorbent, you can use the chamois to wipe down your face, soak up puddles on the floor or wipe down the door. I keep the thongs so that if I have to leap across puddles to get out, my good heels don’t get soaked and slippery. Do not ever drive in your thongs though, they are very dangerous. Finally, when you get out at the end of the day make sure you take all of the damp items with you. Don’t leave anything in your car that can fester and stink after a day of hot wet weather.
2. Do not store your car under a car cover. Even if it is in a shed do not put a traditional car cover or a sheet over your car. The cover, especially in the humidity, will sit against the paint and sweat. The sweat will leave tiny little bubbles in your paint work and ruin it. If you can park in a shed or under cover that is great but try to leave the cover off. If you absolutely must put a cover on, try to find an inflatable one that sits off the car.
3. Crack a window. If your shed is locked up and you have faith your car will still be there tomorrow, crack a window. Air flow is essential to defeating the wet season in your car. In the Chev I like to leave the quarter glass open but in others I will leave the windows down just an inch or two.
4. Moisture absorber. If your car is parked for a while (this may be a pain in a daily driver) then sit a moisture box in the cab. I always put mine on the driver’s side so I won’t forget it and drive off sloshing water everywhere. You can buy these and the refillable beads fairly cheaply from most supermarkets and hardware stores. Check on the containers regularly so that when they fill up with water you can refresh them with new beads.
5. Mould inhibitor. After living in Northern Australia for many years I have finally found a product that works in the battle against mould. Again this may be impractical in a daily driver but if your car is parked for any length of time it will be invaluable. I leave mine sitting on the driver’s side so that I remember to take it out before I drive anywhere. The jar is left in the car and will kill any mould spores before they grow. It even has a pleasant minty smell.
6. Mothballs. If you are parking your car for more than a week mice will look at it like it is the Shangri-La and set up camp. They will chew out wiring and upholstery not to mention leave your car smelling like dirty mice. The best way to keep mice at bay is old school Naphthalene flakes or mothballs. They are sold in convenient little 3 ball hangers. I hang them throughout the car and engine bay and in my sedans I put one in the boot. The smell is horrible so you probably won’t drive off and forget about it but it will keep the mice out.
7. Let Nature do her thing. On those lovely days when the sun is out and shining bright take advantage. Park out in the yard with all of the windows down or go for a drive in the sun with the windows down and let the fresh air and sunlight blast the mould and mustiness away.
Take care on the roads this holiday season and if you have any other handy tips for taking care of your car in the wet please let me know.