Winter is easily the worst time of the year for your car, especially if you don’t properly prepare it for the cold weather. Dealing with frozen door handles, wiper blades and ice all over the car is one thing – but the salt on the roads damaging your vehicle’s undercarriage is an even bigger problem.
We’re going to teach you how to properly prepare your vehicle (and yourself) for the winter weather – so you don’t have to deal with the ice freezing your wiper blades, mirrors and door handles. This guide will also show you how to prevent rust and protect your paint!
Preventing and Removing Ice
The best way to prevent ice from building up on your vehicle is to keep it parked in the garage, and if you can’t do that then you should consider buying a quality car cover. There are also portable garage options at HarborFreight for as low as $199.99. Try to keep your car covered as much as possible to prevent snow and ice build up.
Once snow or ice builds up on your car you’ll need to remove it. Start your car so it can warm up while you remove the ice and snow. If you have remote start, that’s even better. Just know, it is not good for your engine to be left idling in the cold weather for large amounts of time. For a quick 5-10 minutes, it’ll be okay. But, don’t let it sit for too long.
Get a high quality ice scraper that doubles as a snow brush to remove ice from your entire car. The brush needs to be soft enough that it won’t scratch your paint, and the scraper needs to be able to get off all the ice on your windshield.
Protecting the Undercarriage and Preventing Rust
This is probably the toughest challenge you will face during the winter, as it is a lot harder to clean under your vehicle. Drivers are often confused with this part of winter prep, as there are many ways to go about protecting your undercarriage to prevent rust. In older vehicles, that already have a great deal of rust and damaged body parts, it becomes an entirely different process than for a newer vehicle or one without any rusted areas.
If your car or truck is already long gone, consider replacing the damaged body parts susceptible to rust (chips and deep scratches that go down to the metal, cracked fenders, etc) or having them fixed. This usually happens around the wheels and on parts closest to the ground where ice gets kicked up.
If you don’t have rust and your vehicle is still fairly new and/or in good shape, then go out and buy some WD-40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor Spray. It’s less than $10 and has been tested thoroughly by many people on YouTube – so it’s safe to say this is the most effective protection you’ll get for the winter under $10. Apply this to all the parts behind your wheels and all the exposed metal under your vehicle.
There are other rust inhibitor products you can try, and if you’re a professional detailer or mobile detailer – then consider offering this to your clients during and before the winter weather arrives. The best overall rust inhibitor on the market is easily Fluid Film.
There are also attachments for your pressure washer that will allow you to clean the undercarriage of any vehicle, such as the Kohree Undercarriage Pressure Washer Cleaner Attachment, which comes with 3 other attachments to help you get the right angle when going under the vehicle. It makes cleaning the undercarriage and getting rid of salt a lot easier, so it’s definitely something you should buy if you do this for a living and clean multiple cars a week.
Protecting Your Car’s Paint in Winter Weather
At the very minimum, everyone should apply a fresh coat of wax on their vehicle at least once at the beginning of every season. Before it gets cold and starts to snow, you should have a fresh coating of wax or another sealant installed. If you have a ceramic coating then you don’t need to worry about this step, but for everyone else, this is the time to put on the toughest wax possible.
We recommend using Collinite’s 845 Insulator Wax – it lasts about 6 months and is stronger than your traditional wax. This is easily one of the most durable sealants you can use. A little bit goes a long way with this product, and a 16 oz bottle should last you many winters if its just for your personal vehicle.
If you keep your car in a garage and it doesn’t get that dirty, then rinseless washes are a great option. For most people, keeping a clean vehicle during the winter seems impossible or almost pointless. The choice is yours.
Cleaning the Interior and Getting Rid of Salt From Your Shoes
Here’s something you probably weren’t thinking about when it comes to harsh weather on your vehicle – the interior gets salty too! When you step in your ride after walking through a parking lot, you’re essentially transporting salt into your vehicle. Before it ever snows, you should get a thorough interior detail and make sure a fabric protectant gets applied.
All-weather floor mats are also a great purchase, as you can simply take them out of the car and hose them down to get all the salt and dirt off. Also, they’re usually able to trap in any liquid from melting snow and ice, preventing liquid from soaking into your carpets.
If you have a quality sealant or wax coating on your vehicle’s paint, then what you will focus mostly on during the winter is keeping your interior clean.
While everything else is what you wanted to hear, as it covered ways you can prevent rust and keep your car looking great throughout winter by avoiding damage from the weather – neither one of the tips mentioned above are the most important. Tires are the most important part of your winter prep.
This is life or death. During the winter you will see ALL TYPES of vehicles on the side of the road, including 4×4 trucks that would think are meant to handle these conditions. Rear wheel drive cars have it the worst. All vehicles need to prepare with new tires, preferably winter tires. Even if they’re cheap ones from Walmart, new winter tires are better and safer than your old all-season tires. It’s best to keep it safe, and your vehicle’s handling on ice and snow will vary greatly depending on the tires you have installed.