Guide to Fall Detailing and Winter Vehicle Maintenance
Guide to Fall Detailing and Winter Vehicle Maintenance
Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our long Canadian winter is just around the corner, and fall detailing is all about preparing for old man winter, and his cousin, Jack Frost. Right now is the perfect time to prepare your car for the upcoming winter since working in the fall temperatures is quite pleasant! Don’t let caring for your vehicle’s exterior be an afterthought. Snow, ice, sand, salt and other harmful winter elements can shorten the life of your vehicle’s finish if it is not properly prepared and maintained. Winter car care and winter preparation is essential to keep your vehicle protected from snow, ice, and plummeting temperatures. Winter presents some major challenges for your vehicle. Cold temperatures cause rubber seals and tires to become dry and stiff, road salt threatens the paint, and ice clouds your windshield. That is why I’ve prepared this detailed guide to Fall Detailing your car for the winter months!
It should go without saying, but before performing this Guide to Fall Detailing, your car should be thoroughly cleaned inside an out. Make sure to remove the leaves and other debris accumulated during the fall under the cowl panel below the windshield and in other areas. The leaves block water drains and collect moisture. This will cause corrosion and extra humidity inside the car, as the air intake for the cabin heater is usually located under the cowl panel. Also make sure to remove all car matts and properly vacuum the interior, leaving it spotless and free from garbage and other debris which seems to build up during the fall months.
Step 1 Paint Protection
It is important to add as much protection as possible to the exterior of your vehicle before the first snowfall to ensure you can fight the damaging effects of road salt. A synthetic paint sealant is usually a better choice than wax in the winter because of the sealant durability. Sealants usually get a bad reputation for not having the same depth and warmth as a carnauba wax, but where a sealant may lack in depth and warmth it more than makes up in durability.
Many paint sealants offer great shine, and usually one application will last you all the way through the winter. Compared to a conventional wax, a paint sealant will not need to be re-applied each month to keep a coat on your car at all times. Plus, if you really want that carnauba look, you can always top your paint sealant with a premium grade carnauba such as P21s Carnauba Wax.
There are a few reasons why putting a sealant on your car is especially critical in the winter months. The big one here is road salt. All that salt that gets spread on the ground is great to help road conditions but it wreaks havoc on your paint. It can corrode paint surfaces leading to rust and discoloration.
And that’s not all; all that snow and sleet coming down picks up environmental contaminants on its way down to your car and it just sits there on the paint surface, potentially causing damage. A good paint sealant will prevent these contaminants from ever coming into contact with your paint.
In addition, your paint can really take a beating from the dryness that can occur in the air during the winter. And we’ve already told you what a problem dry paint can be. A paint sealant will protect your paint from dryness and cracking the same way ChapStick will protect your lips.
I recommend Menzerna Power Lock for winter-tough paint protection. Menzerna Power Lock is the most advanced paint protection product available. Menzerna realized the need for a paint sealant that would perform up to the level of their line of automotivepolishes, and Power Lock Polymer Sealant has become the industry standard for the reconditioning-detail market.
Menzerna formulated Power Lock with the maximum concentration of advanced polymers to provide exceptional durability, paint protection and the slickest feel in an easy to apply liquid.
If your not convinced that a paint sealant is the way to go, I also recommend Collinite Liquid Insulator Wax, better known simply as #845. A user-friendlier version of the No. 476s paste, No. 845 stands as Collinite’s most legendary product to date. Famous for its versatility, durability and DIY ease of use, 845 is ideal for both small and large surface area jobs where lasting protection and timely job completion are desired, but hard buffing and frequent reapplication are not practical. Leaves behind carnauba shine and durable coating that preserves finish and shields against the elements; UV, rain, snow, salt, dust, dirt, grime, bugs, staining and more.
Step 2 Windows
We all know how much of a pain snow and sleet can be when you’re driving around because they really reduce your visibility. The best way to avoid this problem is to treat your glass surfaces with a durable glass polish and sealant such as Glass Science Glass Scrub and Rain Clear Windshield Repellant. Glass Scrub deep cleans auto glass safely and effectively without scratching the surface. It removes the buildup of water spots, hard water minerals, oils, insects, road salt, waxes, tree sap, road grime and other stains, and promotes crystal clear glass & clear visibility and driving safety, especially in the sleet and snow.
Advanced Rain Clear gel provides a lasting water, soil & stain repellent coating on all exterior auto glass including windshields, side and rear windows, mirrors & lights for dramatically improved wet weather visibility, safety & driving comfort. Rain, sleet and snow simply "bead" up into small droplets and are swept away by aerodynamic wind flow for a clear view of the road. Rain Clear also dramatically reduces the adhesion & buildup of frost, snow, ice, salt, mud, insects and road grime for easy removal and cleaning. This is a must have combo and a great step to take in the fall before snowstorms start rolling in.
Don’t forget, that cleaning the inside of the windows and windshield are equally as important as prepping the exterior glass for winter. Many of us ignore the interior windows when we wash because it adds a few precious minutes. Driving your car with dirty, hazy windows on a rainy night or in heavy traffic, straining to see is a driving impairment. You should consider this a true danger. In addition to being a hazard, the effects of dirty glass can quickly ruin the appearance of your perfectly polished and waxed automobile. Cleaning your windows is one of the most tedious tasks you will face. After you have completed all other detailing tasks, put the perfect touch on your car by detailing you car’s glass.
The perfect solution to your interior glass cleaning needs, is the duo of Sprayway Glass Cleaner and the Microfiber Madness Cloudbuster Glass Cleaning Towel. Sprayway’s heavy-duty cleaning action, is achieved without ammonia, so it is aftermarket tint safe, and it’s foaming action clings and dries quickly with no residue or streaking, especially when paired with the Microfiber Madness Cloudbuster Glass Cleaning Towel which features a special waffle weave pattern, that utilizes a more aggressive fiber than others to remove stubborn spots, built up grime, and anything else cloudy looking glass might throw at you.
Start your window cleaning with the driver’s door and front passenger door. If your door has a window frame, lower the window approximately one inch to allow access to the top part of the glass. This part should be cleaned and dried first. Spray with glass cleaner and buff dry. Now roll the window back up and clean the remainder of the window. Pay attention to the corner of the windows, as this is where you will get most smears and streaks. Don’t forget your driver’s side and passenger side mirrors.
While you’re sitting down in the passenger’s seat, clean the inside of the windshield. The inside of the windshield is easier to clean from the passenger’s side as your access is not obstructed by the steering wheel. Take your time around the rearview mirror as it is only glued to your windshield. If you bump into the rearview mirror hard enough or at the right angle, you can break it loose from the glass.
The inside of the rear window is the most difficult to reach and should be done last. The best technique for cleaning your rear window is to use the backside of your hand to guide your towel down into the corners, or, I recommend the Stoner Reach and Clean Tool which helps you clean fingerprints, smudges, smears, fog, smoke film, haze, dust, water spots and more from hard-to-reach surfaces
Step 3 Wheel and Tire Protection
Your wheels present a unique set of challenges in the winter. The most important thing to do here to prepare for the winter is to apply a good wheel sealant. I recommend either WheelWax, or Collonite 476.
Whether you choose WheelWax because it is safe for all wheels, painted, anodized, polished or clear coated, or Collonite 476’s classic carnauba/polymer blend that olds up month after month against harmful outdoor corrosives such as UV rays, rain, snow, salt, dust, dirt, grime, bugs, and staining either product keep brake dust from adhering to your wheels (important year round), but it will prevent salt, snow, ice, and dirt from causing damage to your expensive wheels.
While there is a great emphasis on protecting our rims from winter’s harsh realities, the tires are often overlooked; your tires also deserve attention, for a slightly different reason. When the temperature outside gets down to freezing levels it’s much more likely that the rubber will dry out and crack, and this is bad. You’ll want to apply a tire conditioner that will penetrate the rubber to hydrate it and prevent cracking. And not only will it prevent damage, but it’ll look great too. (This is also an important step to take on other exterior plastic surfaces such as rubber trim.)
For this purpose, I recommend the Tuf Shine Tire Appearance Kit. What makes Tuf Shine different than other tire dressings? Tuf Shine contains no oils or silicone that can cause dirt and dust to cling to tires Tuf Shine also seals in factory lubricants and blocks out UV and ozone so tires stay pliable. Another amazing feature is that Tuf Shine Lasts for months and that is why it is highly recommended as part of any Fall Detailing regime. Tuf Shine withstands repeated high-pressure washings and has no sling off! Maintenance is also a breeze, because once the clearcoat is applied, the only maintenance for the winter is achieved by Washing the tires with mild soap and water and a soft car wash brush.
Step 4 Rubber Seals, Weather-stripping, and Windshield Wiper Blades
To prevent rubber door seals and weather-stripping from sticking in freezing weather, lubricate them with special conditioner specifically designed for vehicle weather stripping, 1z einszett Gummi Pflege. Gummi Pflege conditions rubber weather stripping on car doors, windows and trunk lids reducing squeaks, rattles, wind noise and water leaks. Protects and keeps the rubber elastic, restores color to dried out rubber, and protects against extreme temperature and UV rays. Also make sure that when you wash your vehicle during the cold winter months, that you ensure that all seals and weather-stripping is dried properly. If your weather-stripping is not dried properly, once the vehicle is parked and temperatures drop moisture from all these sources may seal and freeze the rubber seal to the metal. If the seal is forced open, the seals may rip or tear causing the vehicle to no longer seal correctly.
Windshield wipers are necessary to clean your windshield and rear window when it rains, snows, becomes bug ridden, or dirty from long road trips. Wipers perform best when the rubber is in good shape and the glass is fairly clean. You should make it a habit to clean your front and rear wiper blades at the same time you clean your glass. I recommend after cleaning your glass, use 303 Wiper Treatments to wipe the rubber blades, removing bug residue, wax, and other dirt build-up.
303 Wiper Treatments stop annoying chattering, skipping and streaking wipers in seconds. With a quick wipe, 303 Wiper Treatment reconditions hardening rubber blades and makes them glide like new. A penetrating lubricant coats the natural rubber used in wiper blades. Snow and ice will not stick to treated blades and blades will not freeze to the windshield overnight. By reconditioning hardening rubber blades. 303 Wiper Treatment restores lost flexibility and performance. 303 Wiper Treatment keeps wiper blades working like new.
Although rubber dressing helps preserve, protect, and beautify the rubber and vinyl parts on your car, you should not use dressings on your wiper blades. Rubber dressing on your blades will cause streaking and smearing, impairing your vision. The best overall maintenance of your blades is keeping them clean. No amount of cleaning will keep your blades in perfect condition. Wiper blades wear with each use. Most wiper blades will last about one year. When your blades become worn, dried, or faulty replace them with a new set. I recommends replacing wiper blades at the beginning of fall, when you do your Fall Detailing.
Step 5 Proper Snow Clearing
During winter it is crucially important to minimize contact with your vehicle’s paint. What this means is DO NOT remove snow from your vehicle’s painted surfaces with an ice scrapper or brush whenever possible. Snow and ice removal is a major source of scratches on auto exteriors. Not only minor scratches, but harder to repair RIDS (‘random isolated deep scratches’). This is both from the tools sometimes used, as well as the snow / ice itself. Going about the snow removal in a safe manner could save you heartache in the long run.
When you remove the snow on your vehicle, and you use a nylon brush, you still focus on moving the brush with how air would travel, gently and slowly, using downward motions, starting at the top of the vehicle and moving downwards with each stroke. This ensures you are not introducing dirt from the bottom of the vehicle to the upper portions of the vehicle. Also, do NOT try to remove every last bit of snow. Remove the majority with the brush, and then allow the heat from your engine or power of the sun to remove the remaining last little bit safely. This will help to minimize the amount of contact between the paint and the nylon bristles.
Step 6 Washing in Freezing Temperatures
Winter detailing is all about prevention. Ideally you should clean their vehicle as often as possible to ensure no build-up of road salt on painted surfaces. The longer road salt stays on a vehicles surface, the more time the salt has to eat away at your wax’s protective elements.
Salt is the most common cause of corrosion. With an abundance of this harmful substance on roads, parking lots, and driveways during the winter months, metal components of your vehicle must receive special care. Salt is kicked upwards and underneath your vehicle, where is dries. If it is not removed, the salt will corrode the metal parts underneath your car.
Wash your car more often during winter. Moisture, salt and dirt accumulate inside the wheel wells, under the doors and other hidden areas and cause corrosion. The chrome wheels and other chrome trim parts could be damaged if the vehicle is not washed after driving on the roads when the salt was used.
I like washing my car at a self-service coin car wash with the high-pressure gun, as it washes off the dirt and salt from hard to reach areas and from underneath the car.
Whenever possible, when the temperatures bear it, or you are protected from the cold and elements at your local carwash bay, I recommend a wash with Optimum No-Rinse Wash and Shine or No Rinse Wash and Wax.
Whether you choose No Rinse Wash and Shine, or Wash and Wax, Optimum No-Rinse (ONR) is a must have go-to product for winter washing. It does a great job cleaning up paint in any condition, and leaves a slick, shine that can’t be beat! Optimum No Rinse is the most technologically advanced car wash system that only requires 1-2 gallons of water to wash the entire car. No Rinse Wash & Shine does not require rinsing since there are no soapy surfactants to wash off into the storm drains.
This unique product contains substantive polymers which bond to the paint and protect it during the wash. Therefore, No Rinse Wash & Shine offers greater protection and lubricity than conventional car washes leaving a sleek & glossy finish behind afterwards, and gives you the ability to wash anywhere at anytime including washing inside the garage during the cold months, no messy water runoffs, and greater looking car finishes.
And don’t forget the interior. Have your vehicle’s interior vacuumed regularly during winter months. Make sure to have your floor mats replaced or cleaned and treated with a cleaner and conditioner to protect against harmful winter elements and maintain your vehicle’s appearance. This will protect your vehicle’s interior from slush, salt and mud brought in from outdoors.
These are just a few preventative steps which are important to take in the fall. There are certainly other things involved in detailing but these are some of the most important to prepare for winter. We’ll be following up in the following months with tips and tricks for ongoing winter maintenance cleaning and detailing.
With a little preventative maintenance, your vehicle will weather the winter beautifully!