Roads covered in snow and ice are a sure bet in southern Wisconsin. Your vehicles are too valuable to leave unprotected. That’s why it’s worth the effort to protect car paint before the winter threats pile up. Protecting the paint is critical, however the threats in Madison WI extend to glass, trim and windows, too.
Scraping, chipping and brushing away snow and ice is as stressful to your car’s finish is it is to you. Recent headlines reporting snow storms inching closer make the threats even more real. Anytime now the road crews will be coating pavement with ice-melting chemicals and road salt. That salt is your vehicle’s worst enemy. It eats away at body parts and components. In the slush it creates it finds a way to hit almost every square inch of your vehicle – even inside.
Always Protect Car Paint
Without attention road salt does more than dull your car’s looks. It wears away the surface. A high-quality paint coating, wax or sealant combined with timely maintenance is the best insurance. Is it a do-it-yourself project? Most people think “yes” but in reality don’t have the skill, tools or materials to do it right. Your winter prep options include:
- Paint coatings – these are the high-end products for protecting vehicle paint. They are also the high-intensity application products. They require several steps from beginning to end. Not everyone invests the time and energy it takes. However, paint coatings last longer than typical sealant, require minimal maintenance and fewer reapplications. The coating materials protect from dirt, grime, salt, airborne contaminants and the sun’s UV rays.
- Protective sealants – synthetic paint sealants are more durable than wax, require less maintenance and are easier to apply than coating products. There are products safe for all finishes with or without clear coat. Multiple coats may be applied to deepen the shine without weakening the paint. The latest polymer technology enhances the protective properties to repel water, road salt, oil, dust and grime.
- Car wax – the old standby, car wax remains a basic paint protector. It is ideal for use all year around but especially in winter. An excellent UV barrier it provides an extra layer of protection between paint and grime. High-quality carnauba wax applied before the first snow – and road treatments – is the best protection. Wax should be professionally applied every three months at least. More often if you’re washing your car more often to clean off road salt and chemicals. A layer of wax on top of paint sealant enhances the shine.
A Good ‘Wash’ Is Worth It
Taking pre-season precautions to protect a car’s paint is vital. But, nothing takes the place of a good cleanup during the worst of winter. The best protection for your car’s paint is to get the nasty stuff off it as soon as possible. A brushless carwash is a valuable tool. It cleanses the surface of corrosives before they get a chance to really do damage. Keep in mind that those that boast of recycling water to protect the environment aren’t applying 100% fresh water every time they wash a car.
Is the spray-on carwash wax worth the added cost? Professionals’ best response is: “it doesn’t hurt.” The spray-on wax delivered during a drive-through carwash is considered mostly cosmetic. It makes your vehicle shine but doesn’t match the protection of a hand-applied product.
Is the “undercarriage flush” worth the extra cost? Again, the professionals agree it does no harm. They also agree that it probably isn’t necessary every time you go through the line. If you’ve been driving on roads heavy with salt, sand and ice-melting chemicals, it’s worth it to cleanse the surface from time to time. Newer cars come with anticorrosion treatments and materials but rust forms when these layers are breached. They can be penetrated by damage or wear as the car gets older. Driving in a lot of mud, sand or gravel puts more stress on the underbody, too. The undercarriage sprays get into nocks and crannies the regular wash does not – especially beneath door panels and in wheel wells.
Protection Is In The Details
Automotive professionals acknowledge that “running your car through a carwash” is a reasonable way to deal with the threats of winter paint damage. They also agree that nothing is better than a professional hand-washing and detailing. For the ultimate protection and rejuvenation of a car’s finish, a professional hand-wash and wax is the way to go. Automatic car washes make your car look clean, but they don’t scrub it. Attention to detail is the key to keeping vehicles looking good for years.
Vehicle detailing is more than restoring showroom shines. There are some dirt and grime a carwash just cannot get at. Only the human touch knows when it’s time to apply extra effort to remove road tar, bugs or a buildup of road salt slush.
You can do the job on your own at home, right? Maybe… maybe not. Hand-washing with the wrong materials does more harm than good. Your fathers or grandfathers probably just added dish detergent to a bucket of water to wash the car. Today, doing that you’ll be stripping the car’s finish of its protective properties. The highly-technical chemical makeup of clear coats and sealants breaks down when grease-cutting dish washing liquids are use. In addition, using a dirty sponge or rags leaves ugly swirl makes.
The bottom line is: keep your vehicle clean on a regular basis and look to professionals services for paint protection.
Sweat The Small Stuff
Keeping your car or truck looking good in winter is a chore. In addition to keeping the large surface areas clean, pay attention to less obvious components. Keeping windows clean is a “no brainer,” but it is easy to neglect things like:
- Wheels and tires – rubber needs protection in freezing temperatures to prevent cracking and tire inflation is critical. Unlike summer driving, underinflated tires are a concern in winter. The air inside shrinks with the cold so less tread makes contact with the road. Proper inflation means better, safer handling. Wheels, especially high-priced custom rims, need paint and finish protection, too. Protective wax guards against brake dust accumulation all year around and it repels snow and ice.
- Windshield washers and wipers – making sure windshield washer fluid is rated for well below freezing keeps windows cleaner and guards against a frozen reservoir. Nothing’s worse than needing washer fluid and finding the tank is just a block of ice. High-quality fluid not only stays liquid to far below zero, overspray won’t damage paint, plastic or rubber. Before the extremes of winter hit is the time to upgrade windshield wiper blades, too. There are blades designated as “winter” blades – because they have solid designs that don’t allow ice to build on and they feature rubber that doesn’t get as brittle in the cold as normal blade. A word of warning – when scraping windows take special care around wiper blades. If they freeze to the glass or vehicle – and they often do when the defroster melts the snow – they easily crack and peel.
Inspections Protect Car Paint
Cleaning off snow and scraping ice puts you in close contact with your car this time of year. Closer than other seasons. Take advantage of it to give the vehicle a regular inspection. Is you clean off the latest snowfall watch for chips or scratches in the paint anywhere on the car. Look over the tires and wheels. Inspect wiper blades.
Preparing for winter, consider these tips to protect car paint:
- Apply paint protection early
- Wash the car regularly
- Apply wax frequently
- Park off the street to protect against dings, dents and debris from plows, etc.
- Use a car cover if you must park outside – cover the windshield at least
- Use a soft brush or broom for removing snow
- Be careful with scrapers
- Identify and get any rust spots patched ASAP
- Clean the vehicle thoroughly inside and out regularly
Choose Skilled Professionals
Before the roads and your vehicles are covered in dirt, grime and road salt, visit either AutoColor Madison area location – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road. Our skilled technicians apply the latest car wash and detailing techniques to protect car paint from the Madison WI weather.