Attention to basic winter car care suggestions prolongs the life of your vehicle and keeps it looking sharp. Protect your car’s exterior before Madison WI winter sets in and avoid a trip to the auto body shop next spring.
Protecting a vehicle’s finish is the No. 1 priority, but don’t neglect wheels, windows and headlights. Snow, ice and corrosives take a toll. Scraping ice and brushing snow are rough on a car’s paint.
Protect Auto Body Paint
There is nothing harder on your car’s paint than road salt. There’s little you can do to keep it off your ride – short of storing it for the winter! A combination of good paint to begin with plus wax or a sealant is the first step. Attention to routine maintenance makes a big difference.
Ice is the biggest threat. Even a thin layer of ice poses a problem and a thick layer is worse. The ice itself isn’t likely to do the damage. It’s the materials and technique you use to remove it that scratches, scars and wears on the paint. The hard plastic designed to chip away at ice requires points and edges to do the job. They also scratch if you’re not careful. An ice scraper with an edge held in place by a metal fastener is the worst – if the plastic or rubber breaks or is missing, the metal is like taking a knife to your paint job.
Snow alone isn’t a problem. How you remove it is. The brushes designed for cleaning snow off cars are stiff and get brittle in the cold. Repeated brushing wears on the surface. In Madison’s heavier snowfalls, resist the urge to use a broom. Never use a snow shovel. A broom is unwieldy and risky. A shovel scratches and makes the car a candidate of little dings or dents. Any opening in the paint surface lets in corrosives that go to work immediately.
Sealants Provide Winter Car Care
There are a variety of paint coatings available at a professional auto body shop plus paint sealants. Standard paint coatings require claying, applying the compound and polishing. The process takes time but it’s worth it.
Paint sealants are easier to apply and are durable. They last longer than traditional wax and require less regular attention – some last six month or more.
Many of the paint coatings provide an even better shine when coated with a high-quality carnauba wax.
Winter Washing A Challenge
Washing your car in Wisconsin’s cold winter months is a challenge. But it too is worth the effort. Getting every layer of road salt and sand off the surface as soon as possible is important. Running your ride through a local car wash is convenient, but not always the best solution. Car washes that recycle the rinse water save resources but are applying “gray” or less than clean water on your car’s paint. A professional wash and wax by skilled body shop technicians is an investment worth considering.
Winter Car Care Where Rubber Meets The Road
Modern tires stand up to the assault of most road hazards but winter offers special challenges. Freezing temperatures make rubber, especially sidewalls, less pliable and easier to crack. As the air inside the tire gets cold tires shrink. That puts additional stress on sidewalls. With some custom wheels the metal also changes so leaks can form around the rims. Underinflated tires are less maneuverable, too. Keep a good tire gauge handy and check the pressure often. An underinflated tire may not look flat. Damage begins before it gets that far.
Custom rims and wheels need the same attention you give to paint. A good coat of wax keeps brake dust from sticking and repels snow and ice. The wheel wells are where corrosives like sand and salt do their worst. Keep these spots as clean and free of debris as possible.
Wipers Protect Vital Auto Body Surface
There is nothing more important to safe winter driving than good visibility. Mother Nature makes it hard enough. Windshield wipers and windshield washer fluids need repeated attention as part of a winter car care routine. Replace wiper blades each fall – there are brands designate specifically for winter use that repel ice buildup. Repeat window scraping is an easy way to damage the rubber edge of the wiper without noticing it. Check often, especially if the wiper doesn’t clean a clear swath every time. This goes for the rear window wiper on and SUV, too.
Double check the fluid in your windshield washer system. Never use just water. Add a winter mix that won’t freeze – the label indicates its temperature range. Go for one that’s good well below 0° to be safe in Madison.
Winter Care Extras
Protecting you ride from the elements is a mandatory task. Going beyond the vehicle itself makes a difference, too. Consider these additional winter car care thoughts:
- In the garage – keep the floor clean. You’ll bring in salt and sand. Rinse the floor and protect the concrete – salt erodes it, too.
- Keep battery jumper cables handy – a car battery only last so long and they never fail at a convenient time. You can help others, too. There are new, portable chargers that have cables and a power source for jump-starting vehicles. They’re convenient and effective.
- Invest in a battery charger – if you’ve got an older battery, a charger can extend its life in extremely cold weather and be the difference from going or waiting for a service call.
- Snow, ice, road salt and sand are hard on your vehicles outside and inside. Adding specialized floor mats front, rear and in cargo areas protects original carpets and upholstery from stains and abrasive wear.
Think Care Before Repair
Auto Color provides a variety of services to care for and repair your vehicles . Visit either of our two complete auto body shop locations in the Madison WI area – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road.
Call Auto Color Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color East Madison at 608-221-5041, or email us to enlist the efforts of skilled auto body technicians to provide timely winter car care service in Madison WI.