How to Protect Your Car From Snow Without a Garage – 10 Tips

When we were kids, snow was one of the most anticipated things. We got to play with friends and family and build snowmen. Plus, many times snow lined up with Christmas, which is one of my favorite periods of the year.

Nowadays, when I wake up and see that it put down a good amount of snow in the night, I tend to get moody. Because I know I’ll have to get out in the freezing cold and get the car cleaned up as best as I can to go to work. Those moments are when I wish I had a larger garage. Over the years, I learned a thing or two from experience, which allowed me to deal with snow and cold weather better.

So here you have it, my 10 tips to protect your car from cold winters when you don’t have a garage.

How to Protect Your Car From Snow Without a Garage?

car covered in snow. Is there a way to protect your car from snow when you don't have a garage?
“car snow” by Raul Pax is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When you leave your car out during cold winter nights, you could have many unpleasant surprises when you get back to it the following morning: frozen windshield, doors shut, snow all around the car. These tips might help you avoid that.

Cover Up the Windshield

The most annoying thing after waking up is having to deal with a frozen windshield. Many times you don’t even have the right equipment, your hands get cold, and you hate your life. Chances are you are in a hurry, so you half-ass it, cleaning too little. This endangers you and others since you don’t have enough visibility most of the time. Luckily, there’s a way to avoid this. Simply protect the windshield with a cover

I like polyester-based products. They trap heat during the day, so they resist well to very low temperatures during the night, without freezing and cracking.

A couple of notes on this:

  • Make sure you get a cover the appropriate size. I know this should be obvious, but don’t trust those “one size fits all” statements. Check yourself.
  • Fix it firmly to the car. Some models come with magnets. Honestly, I don’t like those since there’s a risk of damaging the car’s paint.
  • Beware of thieves. Yes, it doesn’t make sense to steal a cover worth 20 or 30 bucks. But trust me, some people would steal anything if they get the chance. Consider using a buzzer alarm to scare them off, at least.

If it gets very cold where you live, avoid household solutions, like towels or blankets. Ice penetrates under them easily, making them useless. If it gets windy, chances are they will get all over the place since they are harder to fix properly.

What about the Rest of the Car then? Two Ideas Here

So I showed you a simple solution to keep your windshield clean from snow and ice. What about the rest of the car then? Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid frozen windows, stuck doors, and paint damage? You have 2 options here:

  • Get yourself a car cover. This is basically a car coat that will protect it from snow and prevent ice from forming on it. Moreover, it will also be handy against summer heat, or to protect your car from tree sap. Car covers are very easy to put on and remove, it will take you just a few minutes. Again, double-check the size so that it fits your car properly. These products are not expensive at all, but I’d rather not get a super cheap model if you don’t want to throw it away after a few months of usage.
  • Alternatively, you could get one of those temporary car shelters. It’s more expensive than a car cover, but it’s the best solution if you have the space for it. The good thing is you can reuse it for outdoor stuff during summer days, like parties and picnics. Be careful if it tends to get windy where you live: in that case, you might want to reinforce the shelter structure with additional stakes.

Put the Wiper Blades Up

car windshield up
“Wiper blades in the proper position” by jim-stl is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you don’t have the space for a car shelter, and you are worried about seeing your windshield or car cover stolen, then this is the only thing you can do to make ice removal easier. Getting frozen wiper blades off the windshield may be a struggle since they can get stuck on top of the glass. In addition, you risk damaging the rubber portion by applying too much force on them.

Don’t use the wiper blades to remove the ice! You can ruin them, plus they are rather ineffective at it. Get yourself an ice scraper.

Beware of Fall Damage!

If the weather gets very snowy, it’s better to park your car away from roofs and trees. Frozen snow could fall off the roofs and hit your car, the same goes for tree branches.

If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. Don’t fall for the temptation of parking your car under trees or near a building to protect it from ice and snow. It could cause far worse damage.

Avoid Getting Locked Out

There’s no worse feeling than discovering your car’s doors are stuck due to ice. To get your door loose, use a source of heat to melt the ice. For example, a heat gun might do the trick for you. But what about preventing it for future times? Well, there are a few things you can do:

  • Check the state of the rubber seals on your car’s doors. If they are in bad conditions, water can infiltrate, forming ice and getting them stuck. Ideally, you’d want to replace them before winter comes if they are severely damaged.
  • A simpler option is to use an oil-based spray on the door seals, to avoid ice formation. There are many products available; Teflon-based sprays work pretty well. A household alternative is common cooking spray.

Some More Winter Car Care Tips

We’ve covered the basics on how to protect your car against cold weather and snow when you need to leave it outdoor. Now let’s discuss some common sense ideas that will help your vehicle survive cold winters.

Get Yourself a Jump-starter

Cold and dead batteries, name a more iconic duo. If you leave your car outside all night in harsh cold, a dead battery might happen. Especially if you have an early morning meeting. To save yourself the struggle, get yourself a jump-starter. There are handy portable models available, which are very easy to use.

A jump-starter doesn’t come cheap, but it’s very much worth it. Probably you’ll use it very rarely, but I guarantee you’ll be grateful to have bought it every time you need it.

Make sure to Keep all Fluids at an Adequate Level

This is a good practice in any case, but it’s especially important during winter times. Check all levels to make sure they are sufficient, and always keep at least half a tank of gas. You don’t want to run out of fuel during an emergency or if you get stuck somewhere. If you are going for a long trip, consider taking an additional fuel tank with you, just in case.


To better deal with winter weather, don’t forget to do the following:

  • Swap your tires to winter tires. They’ll give you better traction and stability when roads get slippery. Also check tire pressure frequently, for example every 10 days. Deflated wheels give you less traction. Not to mention that they wear down quicker.
  • Make sure the coolant inside your radiator is appropriate. A 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water is a good way to start. Adjust the percentages based on the product you are using and on how cold it gets where you live.
  • There’s not only ice that can damage your car during winter, but also salt, sleet, dirt, and other stuff. Especially if your car is new, consider waxing it to protect its paint. I really like synthetic sealants for this purpose.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, my 10 (more or less) tips to get your car through a snowy winter when you don’t have a garage. Here’s a quick summary of what we discussed:

  • Cover up the windshield (or all the car). If you have the space, get yourself a temporary shelter;
  • If any of the previous options don’t suit you, at least leave the wiper blades up to make ice scraping easier;
  • Make sure you park out in the open when heavy snow is forecasted;
  • Treat the door seals to avoid getting locked out;
  • Get a portable jump-starter. Thank me later 😉 ;
  • Keep all fluids at an adequate level;
  • Winterize the car: change tires, put antifreeze inside the radiator, wax it.

Maybe you already knew some of them, maybe not. In any case, I hope you learned something you didn’t know before.

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