Protecting your cars finish in the winter

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With the brutality of last winter still fresh in our minds, it comes at no surprise that winter is the most damaging season for your car. During the cold winter months, your cars finish is constantly exposed to the harsh elements, including rain, sleet, snow and salt. And while modern paint systems are much better able to withstand environmental stresses and the damaging effects of road salt, there are still a few things you can do to help protect your paint during the winter months.

Seal the Paint

In most cases, a late fall application of a high quality polymer sealant will be enough to provide lasting protection throughout the winter time. Unlike traditional Carnauba wax, paint sealants are much better equipped to shield against water and road salts. The polymers used in modern paint sealants cross-link and create a barrier that make it difficult for the elements to penetrate through. Paint sealants are also typically easier to use compared to Carnauba waxes and provide much better durability (a high quality sealant will last 5 to 6 months). When it comes to choosing what sealant to use on your vehicle, there are plenty of options available based on your budget and how often you intend to re-apply the product.

Menzerna Powerlock sealant applied to a Volkswagen

Menzerna Powerlock sealant applied to a Volkswagen

Keep it clean

Ideally you should wash your car at least once a week to keep your paint free from harsh contaminants. Realistically, most of us do not have the time to accomplish a weekly wash, so at the very least try and give your vehicle a full wash after every major storm (when your car is most likely to be coated in a layer of salt). Regular cleaning to remove salt deposits and grime build up will help prevent from corrosion and rust. Rinse-less washes are great for moderately soiled vehicles, but if your vehicle has a thick layer of salt or grime it’s a good idea to rinse it off at a Coin Wash first. Don’t forget to clean the wheels with a dedicated wheel cleaner and brush as removing caked on brake dust and salt will help prevent corrosion in these areas too.

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Keep your distance

Following too close to other vehicles in the winter months will not only increase the likelihood of a collision, but will also chip the paint on the front end of your car. Leaving a bigger gap than normal will help minimize the damage caused by stones and other debris flying off other vehicles – avoiding costly paint repairs come spring. If stone chips are still unavoidable, it’s best to have them filled in as soon as possible to avoid bare metal exposure and potential rust.

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The bottom line

There’s no question that your car takes some serious abuse during the winter months, but time spent maintaining your vehicle is surely time well spent. Keeping your car clean and adjusting your driving style during winter will help avoid unnecessary repairs and have your vehicle looking great once the warmer weather rolls around.

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