Road Grime: The Battle For Winter Shine
Removing your car’s winter grime isn’t just about looking good.
For any driver out on the road, removing your car’s unsightly winter grime isn’t just about making your car look good.It’s about preventative maintenance to avoid long-lasting damage to the exterior of 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, an automotive car-care company.
So, what exactly is this gray grime?
The grime is mostly made up of dirt, mud and sometimes salt. It builds up easily in the winter, particularly in places where it snows because it has nowhere else to go on the side of the road. While this gray grime is not pleasant to look at, it can also be damaging to your car.
The gray film can set in on the vehicle surfaces and, if not removed, might bond to the paint. In worse case scenarios it begins to eat into your topcoat and etch itself into the paint.
To get rid of this unwanted gritty grime, Pennington suggests using a three-part process that includes pre-, during and post-winter care. With just a bit of extra elbow grease, not only will you have a good-looking car but one that will withstand the test of time.
“Pre-winterization is one of the most important steps because it’s all about protection,” says Pennington. “It’s good to get high-quality protection before winter sets in.”
The best protection for your car is car wax. Applying this protective coat will prevent fading, scratches and act as a barrier to the outside elements. A paste wax, such as Carnauba wax, is the simplest 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 way to go.
“The key to making your exterior protection last longer is using a wax with a good clay,” says Pennington.
It's not too late
Although we’re already in the middle of winter, have no fear. It is never too late to protect your car against unsightly car blemishes. During winter, it’s all about preservation.
“The most important thing is washing,” says Pennington. “The longer the grime sits on the car the more time it has to bond to your car and ruin it.”
Pennington suggests taking advantage of nice days in the winter to wash your car–ideally every two weeks if you can.
“What’s important here is to rinse the car’s undercarriage and wheels and pay close attention to your car’s troublesome spots,” says Pennington.
Post-winter, Pennington advises car owners to do a thorough deep cleansing wash of your car.
“Think of this as spring cleaning for your car. Deep clean your car just as you would your house,” says Pennington.
Try to remove any defects, scuffs, scratches and put another coat of protection on the car. Pennington also notes that if you don’t do your pre-winter or during-winter care, your vehicle will be that much harder to clean. Not that you can’t get rid of it, it will just be harder to remove.
Pennington offers the following tips for winter car care:
- Wash your car frequently. Be sure to get into the nooks and crannies where the winter grime can hide. Don’t forget about wheels and tires.
- A pressure washer is going to be your best friend. This will allow 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 so as to not strip the paint.
- Invest in a good set of high-quality brushes. There are specific brushes for the body of your car. Use a separate brush for the wheels, wheel wells, lugnuts and inner barrels. Caution: be weary of the brushes at the car wash. Oftentimes they are not the highest quality.
- Use wash mitts and drying towels when washing your car.
- Use a ceramic spray wax for harsher winter weather. Take advantage of nice sunny days 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.
Winter can be different for everyone. But it doesn’t change the protection needs of your car and the frequency of cleaning. It’s best to get a routine that fits well for where you live.