Winter Car Care & Protection – How to prepare, protect and care for your car during Winter

Author: Rob Mobberley

Practical winter car care and protection guideLet’s face it; none of us like cleaning our cars in the cold, dark winter months. However there are some steps you can take before the real harshness of winter sets in to make life a lot easier in the coming months. Theses practical winter car care steps also help to prepare and protect your motor over the cold and wet winter period.

Winter Car Care – Protect Against The Harsh Winter Weather 

Keeping your car waxed/sealed and the rubber and vinyl treated is the best way to maintain a healthy exterior finish.

Traditional carnauba based waxes may not hold up in harsh winter conditions, so if you have not already done so, you may wish to change over to a synthetic wax or sealant for winter car care protection.

Unlike carnauba waxes, a polymer or acrylic resin sealant can shield against water and road salts. A high quality  sealant should last through about three months of a harsh winter.

Our recommendations for winter car care protection include:

Collinite Winter WaxPoorboys EX-P,

Collinite 476S Super Double Coat Wax,

Collinite 845 Insulator Wax,

Meguiars Synthetic Sealant #21.

Additionally application of wax is not as effective in the winter months due to the low temperatures, unless of course you have a heated garage you can work in. However we would recommend that you still make this one of your winter car care jobs as  it is better to have some protection, than none at all.

Quick detailer sprays are also a great way to buff up the paint and restore a thin film of protection as well.

Other parts of your cars’ exterior such as the bumpers, trim and rubber door seals also need extra protection when the temperature drops. These materials are affected by extreme temperatures and the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

UV radiation causes fading, hardening and cracking, especially in the winter with a reduced ozone layer. When properly maintained; door, bonnet and boot seals will maintain their shape and elasticity longer, providing a better seal.

Both Wurth Rubber Spray and Wurth Rubber Fit are specially formulated and designed to protect and maintain your cars rubber seals.

Salt – One Of Your Cars’ Worst Enemies

Gritting In Action - Winter Car CareWhile most of us cringe at the thought of using a local hand wash garage, most good hand car washes offer a high-pressure wash to flush the underside of your vehicle if you ask them to.

If you don’t have a hand car wash within your are or even one that will be prepared to offer you an undercarriage wash, find a do-it-yourself wash and use the high-pressure hose that you would normally use to wash the body with, alternatively buy a head attachment for your hose pipe at home to flush the underside of the car as best as possible.

As part of your winter car care we would recommend you still try and wash your car as often as possible in winter, as many of us tend to slack off from our regular wash routine in the winter months because of the cold, wet weather.

When you are blessed with a dry day, try and find the time to wash or have your car washed. Easier said than done, we know. But well worth the time.

Interior – Although Inside, They Also Need More Care In Winter

Winter is also hard on car interiors. The cold, dry air of winter also tends to pull out the moisture from your leather and vinyl. It therefore also important to treat the interior prior to the onset of freezing temperatures.

Once the daytime temperatures dip to near freezing, leather and vinyl will not gain a lot of benefit from the application of conditioners at that temperature, we would therefore advise you get this done now whilst we have a relatively mild spell.

For leather we recommend Glitpone Leather Conditioner and for vinyl either Meguiars Vinyl & Rubber (blue or buff bottle) or Autoglym Vinyl & Rubber Care.

Wheels & Tyres – At The Sharp End Of The Harsh Winter Weather

Just like your bodywork and underbody your wheels are at the mercy of the salty muck & grime thrown up from the road over the winter period. Whilst is is important to consider a wheel wax or sealant for protection of your alloys against brake dust, it becomes even more important as part of your winter car care to provide protection from this additional threat.

Your cars’ tyres are also exposed to the full force of winter elements. Liberal use of a high quality tyre dressing not only keeps them looking good during the harshest weather but also provides a barrier to the elements and to ozone, that can cause rubber to deteriorate.

Use a dressing with good a UV protection system built in to ensure adequate protection. Apply to both front and back of tyres with a liberal application of dressing. Allow the dressing to soak in for good 5 to 10 minutes before wiping off the excess, during winter the tyre dressing make take longer to cure, some in some cases the 5 to 10 minutes may not be long enough.

Again the Meguiars Vinyl & Rubber Cleaner/Conditioner is and excellent choice as is 303 Aerospace Protectant which also has the UV protection.

As part of your winter car care regime, inspect your windshield wipers before the snow and rain come. Replace them if there’s any sign of wear. While you’re at it, check your wash fluid and add a winter screen wash making sure you put at least double the normal dose in due to the freezing temperature’s and check that antifreeze. A good winter screen wash will help cut through road salt, road grime and mud.

We recommend:

Sonax Nanopro Xtreme with Anitfreeze,

Autoglym All Weather Screenwash,

CW:100 with addition of antifreeze,

Sonax Xtreme NanoPro with the addition of antifreeze.

Whilst on the subject of windscreens and freezing it is always worthwhile carrying a bottle of De-Icer in your car as well as having one in the house (in case your locks freeze as well). Our personal favourite is Autoglym De-Icer which is effective up to -50 degrees and safe on paintwork, plastics and rubber.

Other practical steps to keep you safe and motoring

If your car is more than five years old, make sure you check the battery. Every winter, there comes those especially brutal sub-zero morning’s that drains the last bit of power from any weak car battery.

Even if your battery is relatively new, as part of your winter car care process, you should inspect it before winter arrives. Make certain the terminals and posts are free of corrosion (clean with baking soda and water), the terminals are tight and then spray with a lubricating protectant such as Wurth CU 800.

Consider investing in a battery conditioner/charger, especially if your motor is being garaged over the winter. Unlike normal chargers, battery conditioners have clever electronics that detects the exact condition of the battery and will provide just enough charge to keep it topped up and at optimum performance without the danger of being able to damage the battery by overcharging.

Something that can all too often happen with a simple battery charger.

Have the cooling system checked for the correct concentration and level of antifreeze. If your vehicle needs additional coolant, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for the ratio of water to coolant. If your coolant is more than two years old, it should be flushed and refilled.

Changing the oil and filter as part of your winter car care checklist is the single most important step in prolonging your vehicle’s engine life. Most manufacturers recommend an oil change every 5,000 to 15,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first. Your oil service interval will depend on the age and manufacturer of your car.

And finally to your rubber gear !

Worn tyres won’t give you the traction you need on wet, icy roads. If your tyres are worn, replace them with a good set of all-weather tyres. For extra grip in the snow, get a set of snow tyres. Snow tyres should always be used in a complete set of four.

If you live in a rural area you may want to keep a set of tyre chains in your boot, just in case! Likewise, correct tyre pressure ensures optimum handling, stopping power and unnecessary wear.

Remember to check pressure frequently because cold air causes it to drop.

When travelling in winter, remember to always carry the essentials with you plus a waterproof jacket, warning signs, some small snacks to eat, warm flask, boots and a thick blanket just in case you get stuck in any snow.

We hope this has provided you with some useful information on your winter care care regime and caring for your motor over the harsh winter period.

Over to you

Do you have your own winter car care tips that you can share with us? Are there any products that you have found particularly useful over the cold period. Please share your thoughts and experiences using the disqus comment box below.

 Gritting Image by Highways Agency
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