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The following information on preparing the exterior of your car for winter developed from a conversation between Kim, our Webmaster and Lane, the Master Detailer. Included is information about:
- Protecting and Sealing your Car's Paint and Clear Coat
- Making Water Bead on and keeping your Windshield Cleaner
- Cleaning, Protecting and Sealing Your Wheels and Tires against Winter Damage
- Brightening your auto paint
Preparing your Auto Exterior for Winter:
Check out Lane's Winter Car Wax Protection Kit in action.
Kim: Is there anything that I need to do to prepare my car for the winter?
Lane: Late Fall is one of the most important times of year for you to detail your car. Winter is very hard on your car with extreme temperature changes, rain, sleet, snow, sand, salt and other chemicals that are used on our roads. You need to clean your car thoroughly and then seal and protect it from all of those damaging elements.
Kim: Ok, but I don't have a lot of time right now, and my car's not fancy. What's the bare minimum, the most basic things that I must to do to get my car ready for winter?
Lane: I'll tell you the bare minimum of effort you need to put into preparing your car for winter and recommend the products that will give your car the best protection that will last through the winter.
Protecting your car's Paint / clear coat finish for Winter:
- Wash your car. You must always wash your car before waxing or polishing it (or you'll be sealing in the dirt). It is important to use a Car Wash Soap before waxing to ensure that you don't have any remaining dirt or soap residue after rinsing. Wash & Shine Car Wash Soap is self-drying, which will save you time, especially as the temperature drops.
- Wax your car. Your car wax coat will be the final line of defense between the damaging winter elements and your paint/clear coat finish. I prefer Gold Edition Best Car Wax because it is easy to apply, gives you a superior shine and is heavy duty enough to give your car real protection.
- Seal the car wax with Paint Sealant. The Paint Sealant stays above the wax layer and will be the first barrier that comes into contact with the salt, snow, etc. Superseal Paint Sealant Sealer Wax is an easy to apply heavy duty sealant with extra protection.
Kim: Can I skip a step and use a combination wax and sealant product?
Lane: Do you want to be waxing your car again in December? You need the layers of protection that you will gain by following the individual steps: Superseal Paint Sealant will give you anywhere from 3 to 6 months of protection, depending on the conditions. Once the weather has eaten through the Superseal, the Gold Edition Best Car Wax will give your paint another two months of protection. Taking the time to detail your exterior properly will ensure that your car is protected until Spring.
Kim: Is there anything that I can do improve visibility through my windows? I have a tough time with the rain and snow.
Lane: Yes, it is a good idea to polish your car's windshield and windows.
Keep your Windshield Clean and Dry through the Winter:
- Clean your auto glass. I recommend that you use a professional grade cleaner like Concentrated Auto Glass Cleaner because you will need a spotless glass surface to polish.
- Polish your Auto Glass with Touch Up Shine Auto Detail Spray. Touch Up is an unique free flowing auto detail polish that will add an invisible layer of polish to your glass, causing water to bead up and helping to sluice off snow, rain and road dirt.
Kim: Thanks Lane.
Lane: Thanks? Wait, you're not done yet.
Kim: I thought that we were only talking about the car exterior today.
Lane: We are, you forgot about your wheels and tires.
Kim: It's so wet and dirty all winter, why would I waste time on my wheels and tires?
Lane: The fact that it is wet and dirty is exactly why you need to protect your wheels and tires for the winter.
Clean, seal and protect your wheels and tires for Winter:
- Clean your tires using Tire Cleaner. You need to use a heavy duty tire cleaner to get all of the dirt, grime and oil off of your tires before you seal them. Black & White Tire Cleaner has a concentrated formula that will speed tire cleaning and pull dirt from the pores of your tire rubber.
- Seal your tires using a Tire Gloss/Seal. Tire gloss is not just for for cosmetic purposes. Much like wax and sealant on your paint, a good Tire Gloss will seal and protect your tires against dirt and moisture. The summer heat can cause microscopic cracks in your tires and even dry rot. Moisture gets into those cracks during the winter and expands as it freezes, expanding the cracks in your tires. You must seal your tires to prevent further damage throughout the cold winter. My favorite tire gloss for an easy to apply, high gloss finish, and our best seller is Super Blue Tire Shine.
- Clean the oil, dirt and grime your wheels using Wheel Cleaner. Lane’s® offers Professional Grade Safe Wheel Chrome Wheel Cleaner and New Aluminum Wheel Cleaner.
- Polish and seal your wheels. Your wheels are corroded by the dirt, rocks and chemicals that they pick up from the road. The chemicals used to control snow and ice can be especially damaging to your wheels. Even if you have factory stock wheels, you need to protect them through the winter with Aluminum & Chrome Wheel Polish.
Kim: This is a lot of stuff to do, how can this be the bare minimum?
Lane: Your car requires the maximum amount of protection to make it through the winter undamaged. It endures harsh conditions and often doesn't get the care that it needs due to foul weather.
If you want to go beyond the minimum, I would recommend using Rubbing Compound on your paint after washing your car. Oxidation causes your paint to fade and discolor in the summer sun. Super Cut Rubbing Compound will remove that oxidized paint and brighten your paint finish.