The Times Australia

The Times

Magazine

The Reasons Why You Should Never Leave Your Car At An Outdoor Car Park


Surveys show that Australia is the most expensive country in the world to park in! The average daily parking charges were in the region of AUD 35 in 2022, and they showed no signs of coming down. Parking in the CBDs (central business districts) can also be astronomically expensive whether it’s on or off street.

Many car owners try to cut costs by parking in unregulated or outdoor, uncovered car parks but this can cause more problems and a bigger drain on your wallet.

Why Is Parking So Expensive?

In Australia, parking is under the control of various public and private bodies, often in competition with each other. City planning in the early years hardly took this issue into account, nor did the powers that be visualize how the lack of parking would become a major headache for the authorities and vehicle owners. Parking is in fact one of the contentious issues in elections to civic bodies, whether local or national.

One of the reasons why planning hasn’t worked is because many of the parking policies were based on outdated and limited studies conducted in America. They did not reflect ground realities in modern and rapidly developing Australian cities. Not surprisingly, today a city like Melbourne has more than 200,000 designated parking spaces. Such arbitrary minimum requirements are a hindrance to the changing demands of residents and businesses that operate in the city.

Parking becomes expensive when there’s more demand and less supply and this is what happens in core areas of the business district, at shopping areas, airports, train stations and other busy areas. Many major cities are discouraging people from bringing their cars into busy areas during peak hours by charging a congestion fee, but the sheer convenience of having your own personal transport far outweighs the price you’re willing to fork out for it.

Parking spaces are expensive to build. The cost of infrastructure, land value, technology, utilities, construction costs can be huge in terms of initial investment. Add to this the property taxes and other cesses that have to be paid on an annual basis.

Maintenance is expensive. Parking spaces have to be clean, safe and well lit. They have to be well painted, with digital signs, ramps and kiosks to collect the charges. To ensure that  all this works well, you need trained and reliable people to manage it 24x7. For cities, parking is not a very productive use of land, and authorities often allocate these spaces in more remote locations. This means that you may find the charges lower, but you will have to make your way to your destination by other means of transport. This is one of the reasons why people  prefer to pay higher rates closer to their destinations in the CBD or airports.

Stay Away From Outdoor Car Parks

You may find your usual parking space full, or you’re not satisfied with the service. When covered parking costs are so high, it’s very tempting to opt for one of the many outdoor car parks you spot around the city. They seem to be doing quite well, safety wise, and the costs are much lower compared to your regular covered parking lot. Click here for more information.

But it’s simply not worth it!

Uncovered parking spaces out in the sun can do irreversible damage to your car’s paintwork. Unless you have strongly tinted glass and windshields, sunlight can fade your upholstery and even cause cracks. In hot temperatures, windshields and window glass have been known to crack.

Moisture condensation happens when you exit your air conditioned vehicle, and leave it in the sun for long hours. This makes your vehicle a breeding place for fungi and bacteria.

Damage can happen to plastic trim and rubber seals as well when you leave your car outdoors. Rust is another problem that can crop up if your vehicle is left outdoors in rainy weather. Battery lifespan gets significantly reduced with constant sunlight exposure.

You may think that parking under trees is a great way to avoid direct sunlight. Here the problem is bird droppings, falling branches and leaves, tree sap, insect secretions, or falling fruit and flowers. Some of these things are difficult to clean and you could end up spending a fortune on car washes.

If your outdoor car park is in a construction area, this is definitely unsafe. Falling objects, accidental damage from debris dumping, sand and cement dust are some of the things you’ll have to deal with here.

Outdoor car parks may not be as well regulated as covered ones. Since the costs are cheaper, owners may not invest much in security and personnel. Your car could get damaged by vandals or other vehicles may cause scrapes, dents and scuffs as they exit or enter.

If you’re returning to pick your car up after dark or late at night, there may not be enough lighting. This makes it dangerous and unsafe, especially when you’re alone. Car park muggings are common. Another issue is the danger of slip and fall or trip and fall accidents on the uneven surface of outdoor car parks.

Apart from this, leaving your car outdoors can attract opportunistic thieves who may steal anything that’s removable from your car, or even force doors open and make off with anything of value left inside your car.

Other common hazards that go with outdoor parking include water pooling when it rains. This happens because the floor is not asphalted or covered, and mud in outdoor parking lots quickly turns to slush in rain. Slippery surfaces, potholes and poor drainage can make these spaces unsafe and unsanitary.

While covered parking doesn’t come cheap, in the long run, it pays for itself. You may not need to get so many repairs done, your vehicle stays safe and protected, and you get total peace of mind knowing that your car is ensconced in a cozy covered parking space. 

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