Save your car from winter woes

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We’ve all been there. It’s winter. Snow and ice mean slush and muck and road treatments to help keep drivers from slipping and sliding. It also means vehicles covered with all that road mess – some so much so that you are no longer sure of the color.

It’s not a pretty picture. But then again, neither is sliding across four lanes of traffic into the ditch on the other side. Better to deal with that which makes the road less slippery than to find yourself sliding across it.

So, what do you do to prevent the salt and sand from damaging your vehicle?

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One option is don’t take your car out in the winter. Lock it up, safe and sound until spring.

The problem with this option is it simply is not practical. Who can afford not to go anywhere all winter long? And talk about cabin fever! Jack Torrance comes to mind …

Luckily, there are plenty of options besides letting your vehicle hibernate for the winter.

The best thing you can do is start by washing it regularly. Getting the briny solution off your vehicle will prevent it from damaging the exterior, and giving your ride a good scrubbing once a week is a good idea during winter months. If you don’t have time for a full wash, at least rinse it to remove the stuck-on grime. But like trying to get oil or grease off your skin, it won’t actually be clean until you use a cleansing agent, so don’t forget to make time for a real car wash soon.

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Along with regular washing, some people find peace of mind in applying rust protection and/or an undercoating to their vehicles. To really benefit from either though, it’s best to apply them to a new vehicle, before taking delivery from the dealer.

Applying a clear wrap to your vehicle protects from minor chips and scratches, thereby protecting from the rust that can result from minor damages that are left untreated. Wraps, however, are only applied to the exterior surface of your vehicle. Regular washes are still needed to ensure other, unprotected areas don’t suffer from corrosion.

Finally, ceramic coatings can be applied to nearly all areas (undercarriage, paint, glass, trim) and provide protection that is up to five times stronger than just a clear coat. Applying the ceramic coating is a process that takes time, but once it’s completed can last up to five years with proper maintenance (including regular washes).

When it comes right down to it, the best thing you can do for your vehicle in the winter time is wash it regularly. While it may not maintain the pristine shine much farther than the slush at the end of the driveway, it’s still worth it to make time for a good weekly, albeit short-lived, cleaning.