If you are going to leave a car here in Naples year-round, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, the environment here in southwest Florida is brutal on an automobile. You may gain some protection from having an enclosed garage but there are certain aspects of our climate that don’t discriminate between the have and have-nots (garages that is).
Mold and mildew can destroy an interior not to mention cause all kinds of health concerns especially for those with increased susceptibility from advanced age to complicating health issues. Once you have a mold or mildew problem in a car you cannot get rid of it. Mold spores tenaciously adhere to the interior and even replacing carpeting, seats and door moldings will not solve the problem as they also can live up under the dashboard, clinging to moldings and wiring thus reappearing at the very next opportunity. Suffice it to say, once you have a mold problem in an automobile it is present for life and the only recourse is to stay on top of it with regular cleaning and disinfecting. To help prevent mold and mildew from starting in the first place a vehicle needs to be regularly run and aired out. Disinfecting the A/C vents regularly will also aid this cause as the A/C vents are a prime starting point for mold as condensation occurs in moist or humid conditions after being run.
Speaking of A/C systems, they need to be run regularly also to prevent pressure buildup in the compressor. An A/C system not run regularly will without doubt seize and fail.
Engines today are a complex blend of high-performance machinery and technology and are not designed to be left inoperative for extensive periods of time. Gaskets can dry out and crack, as well as hoses, wires and belts. Cars need to be RUN regularly. Simply starting a vehicle just won’t do. You want your vehicle to be operating properly at proper operating temperature at least once a month to ensure its performance when you get here.
Tires also require regular inspection as most tires monthly lose approximately 1 to 3 PSI. Under inflated tires risk developing flat spots which break down the integrity of the sidewalls and can lead to tread separation. Ideally you want to over inflate tires by no more than 10 PSI to prevent these flat spots from forming in the first place. Remember to return them to manufactures specifications prior to driving as over inflated tires can be just as dangerous as under inflated tires.
Rubber seals and weather-stripping experience dry rot here as the moisture combined with the salt air can damage these surfaces beyond repair. A monthly silicone spay down can help with this problem.
Likewise, the engine compartment should be sprayed down with a protectant / lubricant to prevent the hoses & wires from deterioration.
As a rule, batteries last on average three to four years in this environment. Even an unhooked battery will drain. Imagine if you will an invisible arch between the positive and negative terminals. This is referred to as transient drain and can lead to a dead battery. Again that, monthly drive or exercise can retard that process.
In summary, without proper maintenance in the harsh Florida environment, absentee homeowners may return and find such auto problems as mold and mildew, air conditioning failure, poor engine performance, tires with flat spots, dry rot of rubber seals and weather stripping, deterioration of hoses and wires, and a drained battery.