Most people know how important it is to winterize car engines and tires—checking things like antifreeze levels and making sure those snow tires are ready for another year of navigating the slippery roads—but it’s equally important to get your car’s exterior ready for the winter.
As soon as the weather starts to turn and there’s a frost in the air, it’s a good time to take a few hours and prepare your car for the cold months ahead.
- Apply a Paint Sealant/Wax: Perhaps no season is quite as tough on paint as winter. It’s not the cold that poses the greatest risk, but the salt that’s used to de-ice the roads. If you don’t take protective steps, the de-icer could also become a de-painter.
A paint sealant or paint coating is going to provide a longer-lasting protective coat, especially if you choose an acrylic-based option with long-term protection in mind. You can also opt for a regular wax, but this will need to be reapplied at least weekly, so expect to spend more time with your car this way.
- Include Your Wheels: Tires need protective coatings just as much as the rest of your car. Opt for a protective wax designed for use on your wheels, or for a more intensive ceramic-based coating. Not only will this keep snow and ice from dirtying up your rims, but it will also protect against brake dust buildup.
- Hydrate the Tires: Snow tires and all-weather tires have deep grooves and siping to help grip the roads in slick conditions, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready for all winter’s damages. Because rubber can dry out and crack in the cold weather, you may want to look into a tire gel that hydrates the rubber and also adds a nice shine.
- Change Your Windshield Wipers: You should be doing this regularly anyway, but winter is a great time to change your windshield wipers and make sure they fit properly. You want no streaks and a tight fit against the windshield. (As an added bonus, you should top off your wiper fluid or even opt for a de-icing wiper fluid that can withstand the colder temperatures.)
- Invest in a Car Cover: If you are able to park in a garage or other covered area, your car will stand up against the winter weather better. If you have to park outdoors (either overnight or while you’re at work), you may want to consider a car cover. The process of scraping away snow and ice every day can be hard on your car’s exterior, and you may be able to avoid many issues like sooty snow ruining your finish this way.
Don’t forget that one of the best ways to ensure your paint job and car stay in good repair is with regular winter washing. We suggest you get in the habit of washing your car at least once a week during the winter months, whether you do it yourself or take it in to have it done.