Some areas of the country have already seen the first signs of snow. Thus, the first road maintenance companies will soon use salt to tackle snow and ice. What makes roads safer to drive is not good for your vehicle.

Winter protects the outer skin of an animal with thick fur, but what about a car’s skin? Salt and moisture cause rust and damage to paintwork, but maintaining the right paint quality is a straightforward process.

While car paint is not much thicker than human hair, it has solid protection. Modern car paints are formulated to withstand climatic conditions, like harsh temperatures and road salt, during the winter.

Unfortunately, the paint is still not impervious to mechanical influences like stone or rock chippings. A fine crack can form on a paint surface when small stones are thrown against it, and the metal under the paint can corrode. Those corrosions are accelerated by salt on the roads.

Protecting your car paint during the winter season

Removing salt from paint

It is necessary to clean salt deposits on the paint frequently with ample amounts of fresh water. We should do this either manually or by using a car wash in the winter. It is advisable to wash the car as soon as possible after long journeys in salty water, such as on motorways.

Save time by avoiding frequent visits to the carwash, where the cleaning process can take anything from one hour to two. An eight to ten minute hand wash gets rid of most dirt and grime. Car paint is also challenged when using brushes, fabrics and chemicals in automatic car washes.

Consider a proper pre-wash if you visit a car wash. Let them know if it does not seem sufficient. A milky white layer forms over the paint when the road salt dries. If the salt crystals are left on the car without being thoroughly cleaned, they will scrape the exterior like sandpaper.

Today, most car wash systems use rollers with soft fabrics and some touch-free wash systems. As opposed to the brushes of the past, these ones protect the paint, especially in winter. Winter care is a cinch with thorough pre-washing.

You should always clean and re-grease your door rubbers after running your car through the car wash. In sub-zero temperatures, the doors are likely to freeze.

Protecting polish and sealant

During winter, polishing and sealing provides the best paint protection. People who missed this in the fall might be able to do it again when the weather is mild or if they keep their cars in a garage. By removing small scratches and surface flaws the polish gives the paintwork a new gloss.

Water and dirt are repelled by wax sealants. But it wears off over time, leaving a diminished pearl effect. A regular car wax tends to last about four weeks. A premium wax tends to last twice as long.

Make sure all door seals are greased at the time of cleaning. For this purpose, grease pencils may be purchased in stores. You should also take precautions for door locks during the winter: a graphite lubricant will keep water out and make closing easy. Furthermore, a de-icer should always be readily available in a coat pocket – not in the glove compartment.

Matt coatings are sensitive

Matted-finish cars require special care. Even on matt paintwork, washing with clear water will protect against rust caused by salt residue — but polishing and waxing does not apply. Mat paints tend to be rough on the face; however, if buffed and waxed, they will also shine which we do not want.

Throughout the paint industry, experts often discuss the topic of matt paints. A car wash that works with soft fabric and not nylon brushes is the only one you should take a matt painted vehicle to. Nevertheless, the risk is still present. It is possible to permanently alter the paint appearance by using strong mechanical influences, as well as too forceful hand washing.

Check the underbody regularly

During winter, salt and moisture cause a huge problem for the floor panels. The protective layer can also be damaged by rockfall or impact. Water and salt run free in such places. The underfloor must therefore be cleaned and examined by a specialist. Professionals will identify areas of weakness and repair them. Having the underbody armor checked even on new cars is a good idea.

Eliminate scratches promptly

Rock falls abound along motorways and country roads in winter. The paintwork is sprayed with gravel, chippings and dirt at high speeds that whip through the air.

As a result, tiny paint flakes and scratches appear on the bonnet, wheel arches, or wing mirrors. You need to get rid of them as soon as possible. In order to get rid of the damage before it gets worse, check the paintwork after every car wash.