Joe L. asks the D.I. team how to maintain a vehicle’s appearance during the northern winter months.
Todd or anyone else who lives in an area that it snows…what are your processes to keep cars clean in the winter? I have a black 528i and have been researching the no rinse products but not really sure they are for the type of stuff that gets on a car in Columbus in January.
Well Joe, since I too live in Columbus, Ohio, I feel that I am qualified to answer that question! I also drive a black car and know just how difficult it is to keep looking nice in the summer let alone the winter. The first step to keeping the vehicle looking nice in the winter is to make sure that you prep the surface accordingly in the Fall by applying a fresh coat (or two) of a durable sealant. My personal vehicles get treated with Blackfire Wet Diamond before the weather turns. This will provide a protective layer between the paint and the harsh elements.
Secondly, you will want a good no rinse wash like Optimum No Rinse (ONR). This is a tremendous product any time of the year, but especially in the winter when it’s too cold outside to use a hose. Since you’re typically working with a dirtier surface in the winter, you want to make sure that you use only very light pressure, work small sections at a time, and rinse out your wash media regularly. Even when using Optimum No Rinse, I still use the Two-Bucket Method of washing.
When the car is severely covered in salt and other abrasive road debris from the snow and slush, I would recommend running the vehicle through a TOUCHLESS car wash first to thoroughly rinse the damaging material away (I know for a fact that there are some in Columbus, as I have one right around the corner from my house that I use on occasion). Never run your vehicle through an automatic car wash where any type of material other than water touches it…otherwise you will get instant swirls! Keep in mind that the touchless washes will still leave a film of grime on the car, but this can easily be removed when washing with Optimum No Rinse.
Another way to be safe when using ONR is to keep some pre-mixed in a spray bottle, and spray down the surface you’re getting ready to work on before you wash it. This will help loosen up any dirt, and it will provide additional lubrication to prevent marring.
After you complete your ONR wash, I’d recommend using a spray wax like Optimum Car Wax to freshen up the protection on the vehicle. It’s quick and easy to use, it’s quite durable, and you can use it on all surfaces without worrying about it staining trim.
I hope this helps!
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