In a winter road salt state (Minnesota, Utah, etc.) is it better to have a heated or unheated garage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

In a brutal winter/road salt state like Minnesota, is it better for the car to
have a heated garage or an unheated garage? Obviously, it is better for the
driver to have a heated garage! But it seems like a car might rust faster in a
heated garage because the snow/salt would melt every night rather than just
staying frozen. However, for the engine, it seems like the heated garage might
be better for avoiding the cruel molasses-like oil start-ups. What do you think?
-- Pat

TOM: Your analysis is absolutely right on the money, Pat. Ideally, you want the
body of the car outside in the cold where the chemical reaction (i.e. rusting
process) is slowed substantially. And you want the engine in the heated garage
where the oil will almost instantly be at operating temperature.

RAY: So the answer is simple. Park the car with its nose only in the garage!
Just pull up until the windshield is lined up with the garage door, and bring
that baby down!

TOM: Actually, there's a more elegant way to accomplish the same thing. You get
an engine block heater. An engine block heater plugs into an electrical outlet
at night. And when the timer turns it on at 4 or 5 a.m., it warms up the engine
block. That way, when you go out to start the car and it's two degrees out, the
coolant and oil are already warm and the engine doesn't suffer through an
elongated warm-up period.

RAY: And since the coolant is warm, you get heat quickly, too, which we know is
all you REALLY care about, Pat!

TOM: And all you should really care about. In fact, if the block heater is too
much trouble for you, I'd just park the car in a heated garage and forget about
the rust. I think your comfort and happiness is much more important than how
long the car lasts.

RAY: Right. After all, it's only a car, right? You can always get another car.
But if you break your teeth from chattering on the way to work, you'll be hard-
pressed to replace them

* * *

Are you inadvertently wrecking your poor car? Find out by reading Tom and Ray's
pamphlet, "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It!" Send
$3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No. 10 envelope to Ruin, PO Box
6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

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