We still have time before old man winter arrives but now is the time to prepare your car for the winter months. Regardless of where you live, prepping your car for the winter is a good habit to start. Whether it’s rain, mud, sap or road salt, the elements can really take a toll on your car’s exterior. It’s a good idea to take advantage of the ideal temperatures of the fall season when washing, polishing and waxing your car can still be pleasant. And by prepping your car now, you can be certain when spring arrives, you’ll be able to easily remove a layer of the winter season effortlessly and your car will be in optimum condition. Here are six steps to a winter prepped car.
Step 1 – Polishing The Paintwork
Polishing is important because it puts oils back into the paint finish which in turn brings out the gloss and depth in your paint. It also removes oxidized paint at the surface and contaminants that regular car washing can’t remove. If you don’t polish, over time the paint finish will become dry and coarse. It will become dull and eventually begin to peel and crack . So don’t neglect this step. Whichever polish you choose, it will deep clean the paint finish, restore oils and if you’re using Paint Polish it will also reduce those unsightly swirl marks (sometimes called spider webbing) that appear under sunlight.
Step 2 – Sealing The Paintwork With Sealant Wax
After you’ve polished the paint finish, you want to put an invisible layer of protection to protect the surface from the elements. That’s what sealant wax does. Yes, it provides some extra gloss but it really proves its worth by shielding the paint from sap, road salt, mud, UV rays and whatever the environment can throw at it. While polishing a car can take a while, sealant wax goes on very quickly (a whole car in about 10-15 minutes!). And since it’s made from synthetic polymer waxes, it lasts months longer than your traditional carnauba based wax so you can be confidant that it will hold up in the winter.
Step 3 – Treating And Protecting Unpainted Exterior Plastic Trim And Rubber
Unpainted plastic trim can quickly become dry and crack due to the damaging effects of the sun’s heat and UV (ultra violet) rays. Vinyl-Rubber Care and Protectant (VRCP) has special conditioners that penetrate deep into the surface and revitalize the trim quickly restoring color to faded trim. Finally, unlike other vinyl and rubber conditioners, it leaves a water-resistant coating that locks in the treatment keeping the trim conditioned. VRCP also contains UV blockers that protect against the fading effect of the sun’s rays. Apply VRCP on plastic trim, wheel wells, tires and vinyl convertible tops to keep them conditioned and weather proof.
Step 4 – Removing Debris and Changing Cabin Filters
Falling leaves can clog the inlet where fresh air enters your car’s cabin. Besides restricting air, this can cause mold and mildew to grow and create unpleasant air in the interior of the car. Removing leaves and twigs on a regular basis will prevent this from happening and reduce stress air restriction can place on the air conditioner fan motor. Replacing the cabin air filter (also known as a pollen filter) should be done at least once a year if not more often if your car comes equipped with one. A dirty filter will also place stress on the fan motor since the fan has to work harder to draw air through the clogged filter.
Step 5 – Treating the Air Conditioning System
If your cabin has a musty odor every time you turn on the air circulation, it’s time to clean your air conditioning system. It’s not something you hear often but it’s one of the most overlooked areas. Most people just mask it with a fragrance which doesn’t get at the heart of the issue.
Every time you run your a/c, air flows over a unit called the evaporator which is located underneath your dashboard. The evaporator draws moisture from the air passing by it which in turn reduces the temperature. This air, which is now cooler, returns back to the cabin providing occupants with cool fresh air. The water the evaporator draws from the air collects and drains through a tube that exits below your car. You’ve probably seen this puddle form underneath your car without giving much thought to it. Well, that’s the moisture that was previously drawn from the interior of your car.
While most of the moisture drains from the evaporator system, some moisture remains. This area around the evaporator becomes the ideal environment for the growth of mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria. It’s those contaminants that provide a musty smell in the cabin. Not only does it smell bad, but it’s not healthy. The issue is compounded when pollen and dust in the air stick to the evaporator. Eventually, it becomes so dirty that it becomes less efficient since air is not able to flow freely over the surface.
Step 6 – Adding Winter Windshield Washer Fluid
This is for those of you who live in regions where temperatures fall below freezing 32°F/0°C, you’ll need to replace your summer windshield washer fluid with one with anti-freeze properties, such as Einszett Anti-Frost Concentrate.
Having a clear view of the road ahead is important regardless of season. Anti-Frost has the same exceptional cleaning abilities as summer windshield washer fluid but with anti-freeze properties that protect as low as -22°F. You’ll be able to easily remove road grime and road salt without any smearing or dangerous glare. Plus, unlike other anti-freeze washer fluids, Anti-Frost doesn’t contain toxic methanol which is unsafe for you and the environment.
To apply, you can either start fresh by emptying your windshield washer tank (recommended) and pouring a fresh mixture of Anti-Frost or you can pour the mixture of Anti-Frost and blend with your current washer fluid solution already in the washer fluid tank. Although keep in mind that the latter option will be more diluted and not provide as much anti-freeze properties.
These six steps will prepare your car for the worst winter has to offer. Yes, your car may not look pristine in the midst of the winter season, but detailing is not just about having a good looking car, it’s also about protecting and keeping your car in safe operating condition.
Once spring time arrives, you’ll be able to remove the winter layer easily and prepare your car for the warmer months ahead.