Keep Winter Grime From Making Your Vehicle Grim
In winter, snow and slush blankets the streets and our vehicles become the unsung heroes battling through the elements.
However, the aftermath of winter driving often leaves cars covered in a stubborn layer of grime, salt, and road debris. But removing your car’s unsightly winter grime isn’t just about making your car look good–it’s preventative maintenance to avoid permanent damage to your car.
“It’s important to remove that gray grime, even in winter, because the longer it sits on your car, there is a greater potential for damage and even permanent damage,” says Mike Pennington, leader of global training at Meguiar’s.
The unpleasing gray grime, while not nice to look at, is also damaging to your car if it sits there long enough. If not cared for promptly it can sometimes bond to the paint. In worse case scenarios it can begin to eat into your topcoat and etch itself into the paint.
To remove the unsightly grime, Pennington suggests using a three-part process that includes pre, during and post-winter care. With just a bit of extra elbow grease, you’ll have a nice-looking car for years to come.
“Winter prep is one of the most important steps because it’s all about protection,” says Pennington. “It’s good to get high-quality protection.”
The best protection for your car is car wax. Applying this protective coat helps prevent fading, scratches, and act as a barrier to the outside elements. A paste wax, such as carnauba wax, is the easiest to apply, but needs frequent application.
“It is a great start for simple car care,” says Pennington.
For longer lasting protection and better resistance, a hybrid ceramic wax is the best option.
“The key to making your exterior protection last longer is using a wax with a good clay,” says Pennington.
But to start, in winter it’s all about protection and the most important step you can do is wash your car.
“The longer the grime sits on the car the more time it has to bond to your car and ruin it,” says Pennington. “What’s important here is to rinse the car’s undercarriage and wheels and pay close attention to your car’s troublesome spots.”
Below are a few helpful products and tools to protect and clear your car of winter grime:
- Invest in a pressure washer, this will aid in keeping your car clean by allowing you to get up in the car’s undercarriage, door jams, etc. Caution: allow for at least one inch between your car’s surface and the pressure washer to not strip the paint.
- Acquire a good set of high-quality brushes. There are specific, different brushes for the body of your car and the wheels so you can clean the wheel wells, lugnuts and inner barrels.
- Use a ceramic spray wax for harsher winter weather. Find time on a sunny day and use this time to do a spray wax after washing your car. Think of it as a booster wax. It helps to boost protection during winter.
- Purchase a bag of microfiber towels and a microfiber mitt. Opt for microfiber wash mitts for a gentle yet effective cleaning experience. These mitts are designed to capture and lift dirt without scratching the paint. Follow up with microfiber drying towels to prevent water spots and leave your car's surface streak-free.
- Get a clay bar kit. To eliminate embedded contaminants that regular washing might miss, a clay bar kit is indispensable. It helps remove stubborn grime, tar, and industrial fallout, leaving your car's paint smooth and ready for polishing or waxing.
- Use wheel cleaner. Don’t forget about your wheels. Winter takes a toll on them, with salt and brake dust accumulating in every nook and cranny. Invest in a specialized wheel cleaner to break down these contaminants and restore your wheels to their original shine.
- Apply a quick detailer. A quick detailer is perfect for touch-ups between washes. It not only adds a layer of protection but also enhances the shine of your car's exterior. Look for a product with UV protection to safeguard your paint against the sun's rays.
- Use a spray-on wax or sealant. After a thorough cleaning, applying a spray-on wax or sealant adds an extra layer of protection to your car's paint. These products provide a hydrophobic barrier, making it harder for dirt and grime to adhere and ensuring your car stays cleaner for longer.
- Get the right type of glass cleaner. Winter driving often results in smeared and dirty windows. Choose a quality glass cleaner to achieve crystal-clear visibility. Look for a streak-free formula intended for automobiles to ensure optimal clarity.
Winter is different for everyone. But it doesn’t change the protection needs for your car and the frequency you should clean your car during winter. It’s best to get on a routine that fits well for your life and where you live.