Winter has the potential to wreak havoc on the interior and exterior of your car, particularly for residents of cold weather states who face the damaging effects of snow, sleet and salt all season. Detailing your vehicle in the beginning of fall is especially important, as it can offer significant protection for your car and even prevent some of winter’s worst damage.
Protecting Your Paint Job
Because your car’s finish is extremely delicate, regularly maintaining its surface is particularly important all year long. The first step is thoroughly washing your vehicle using a cleaner specifically designed for cars, as any other household detergent risks stripping your car’s protective wax.
Once your car’s exterior is clean, apply a high-quality paint sealant to protect its finish from road salts, water and chemicals used on roads in winter weather. High-quality paint sealants typically offer protection for about six months, allowing you to apply the sealant now and be protected all winter.
Safeguarding Your Interior
Detailing the interior of your vehicle in preparation for winter is also necessary, particularly if your car has leather seats. Leather can be dried out by winter’s cold weather and lack of humidity, and unmoisturized leather is prone to cracking.
Moreover, because leather is porous in relatively warm conditions (above 50 degrees Fahrenheit), you must condition your car’s leather seats in fall, before winter weather sets in. If you decide to condition your leather interiors in cold weather, the leather will appear supple but will not have actually absorbed the necessary moisture. Look for a conditioner with lanolin and mink oil for the best results.
Protecting Your Tires
Your tires come into the closest contact with the salt and other chemicals on the road in winter. By making use of a high-quality polish–applied at the beginning of fall and reapplied often after washes–you can ensure that your tires both look good and are protected from the winter elements.
If you live in an area with particularly hard winter weather, you may want to use a silicone-based dressing in your wheel wells. Although silicone-based products should not be used on painted surfaces, applying such a product to your wheel wells can prevent salt, snow and ice build-up.
By detailing your car in the fall, you can ensure that your vehicle makes it through the next 6 months in top condition.