Expert Tips On Quick, Easy Car Care For January

Winter Car Care
Winter Car Care

Stop-and-go driving. Slushy streets. Road grime. Sleet. Give your vehicle a little extra care to start out the New Year.

“Sometimes you need to change the goal of car care,”says Mike Pennington of Meguiar’s, a leading manufacturer of car care products.  “Winter car care is about preservation not beautification.”

Accumulated road grime can permanently damage paint and wheels. Road salts and applications such as magnesium chloride are corrosive, and they need to be washed off occasionally during winter months.

“That is especially true for drivers who live in severe winter areas,” Pennington says.

The trick is keeping your vehicle from getting damaged during the harshest winter months. Using a bucket and a hose on the driveway during a frigid winter day usually is not an option.

Pennington, who has worked at Meguiar’s for 31 years, makes a habit of regularly detailing his vehicles. After a recent visit to Park City, Utah, he took a few minutes out of his weekend routine to remove accumulated road grime.

“Protecting your vehicle in winter makes it easier to beautify your vehicle come spring,” Pennington said. “Don’t forget the Golden Rule when it comes to protecting your vehicle: frequent car care is easy car care.”

Pennington suggests what he calls “a preservation scenario.” Visit a coin-op self-wash to rinse off dirt, caked-on mud and grime.

Can you still see a filmy haze on surfaces after using the coin-op? Take your vehicle to a tunnel drive-through wash for more extensive cleaning.

“Then apply a spray-on wax, “ Pennington says. “You can mist and spread and wipe it off quickly.”

Spray-on wax provides a layer of protection between the surface of your vehicle and de-icing treatments used on roads. It helps prevent staining and corrosion on wheels, undercarriage and painted surfaces.

“Salts can get inside a paint chip and cause permanent damage,” Pennington says.

The more severe the weather, the more frequently drivers should clean their vehicle surfaces. Headlights and fog lamps are particularly vulnerable to accumulation of dirt and grime.

A side benefit: Frequent cleaning improves headlight brightness and nighttime visibility. You may use the same car wash solution on headlight surfaces as for painted surfaces. A coat of spray-on wax also helps headlights shed moisture and stay clean.

Pennington offers the following suggestions to keep your vehicle looking great throughout the winter:

  1. Wash the vehicle regularly to remove snow, sleet, salt or mud. Use a high-pressure wash and give special attention to debris on wheels, the undercarriage and wheel wells.
  2. For areas with severe winter weather, use a coin-op wash to remove dirt and grime.
  3. Apply a spray-on wax to preserve your vehicle’s finish during winter months. It goes on quickly and provides a layer of protection and acts as a car care bridge until spring.
  4. Avoid hot water on glass surfaces in frosty weather since it may cause them to crack.
  5. Clean your headlights monthly to improve brightness and nighttime visibility. Apply a coat of spray wax on headlight surfaces to help shed moisture.. 
  6. Clean windows and mirrors for improved vision. Use a glass cleaner designed for vehicle windows. Ammonia-based solutions can cause streaks.
  7. Apply a water-repellent product to glass surfaces to help shed rain and sleet.
  8. Use an odor control product to keep your winter vehicle cabin smelling fresh and clean.
  9. Clean carpet and upholstery to remove grime build-up during winter months and help prevent stains from setting.
  10. Invest in rubber floor matts to protect carpeted surfaces from wet and muddy shoes. It also helps prevent spills from penetrating.