Fall Car Care Tips Keep Winter Shine

Keeping a vehicle looking sharp throughout the winter takes some effort. Snow, mud, road salt, ice--even dirty shoes--conspire to ravage every vehicle finish in sight.

Automotive care experts have some suggestions on weathering the winter.

Wheel Care

Wipe your wheels, especially if you live somewhere where roads are salted.

“Keeping your wheels clean is about making sure rust and corrosion don’t set in. The bonus is when nice weather sets in you don’t have to work as hard to get the shine back,” said Adam Bateman, the sales and marketing director for Wizards Products, a Minnesota-based polish and wax company.

Exterior

Lather, rinse, repeat.

“The most important thing to do in the winter is wash your car frequently,” said Ron Fausnight, group technical manager of chemicals and appearance products for ITW Global Brands, which produces Rain-X and Black Magic products. “Removing the dirt and grime regularly will make your car look better and prevent corrosion from harsh salt and sand, or other roadway filth.”

Don’t forget to wax

Washing and waxing isn’t exclusively a summer task. A clean and protected exterior helps your car handle winter weather.

"Winter’s elements are always harshest on the paint," said Mike Pennington, a product expert for Meguiar’s, a company specializing in car care products. "A thorough washing and waxing before winter is crucial for the preservation of your vehicle’s exterior. It’s not just a job for summer."

That sleek appearance and pleasantly smooth surface are only part of the benefits of waxing. It can also provide a barrier between your paint and the elements. To get the best results, your vehicle should be washed thoroughly before applying wax, Pennington said.

Polymer-based waxes withstand more exposure to rain, snow, salt and magnesium chloride found on winter roadways, he added.

Interior Care

Replace worn out fabric mats with durable ones made of rubber or composite material. Make sure the mat can grip the carpet so it won’t slide around during driving.

“A durable, custom-fitted floor mat puts nature firmly in its place,” said Tara Duncan, director of marketing for Husky Liners, a Kansas-based company designing and developing heavy-duty floor mats. “Custom-molded liners that fit your vehicle’s floorboards keeps dust, dirt and debris out of your carpet,” Duncan said.