Most of us in the United States are experiencing some sort of “unseasonal” weather right now; I’m taking about almost 50 degrees in Chicago, near freezing in parts of southern New Mexico, and highs of 64 in northern California. Whether your car likes it or not, it’s not used to this type of dysfunctional weather, so it’s up to you to get it ready. With that in mind, the best way to keep your car ahead of changing weather and ready for driving is to prepare and protect it often…
It doesn’t matter if you’re up in Seattle or down in Texas, protecting your car’s paint is the single most important step you can take toward preserving it for a long and lustrous life. At this tricky time of year, where a lot of us are stuck in limbo waiting for the impending snow storm and some are still sitting by a beach, it can be as simple as a layer of paint sealant. Unlike a traditional carnauba, the polymer-based formula used for a paint sealant lasts longer and provides a significantly more durable layer of protection to your car’s paint. If you’re not already using a paint sealant in your detailing routine, I suggest you pick one up and see the difference for yourself – you’ll wish you had a long, long time ago.
While paint is arguably the most important component of a car (much like a person’s skin), you should never overlook your ride’s wheels. They keep us on the road and are usually the first to take a hit when messy weather rolls around. That said, you have the option of protecting your wheels – and you should take advantage of it. A layer of wheel protection will not only keep your wheels cleaner while road salt, dust, tar, and slush start to populate our roadways, but will shield them from damage, too. Bottom line is not to pass up your wheels or you’ll be sorry – wheel damage can cost over $200 per wheel and that’s if you only have painted rims.
Lots of people think that if a car looks good on the outside, it must look good on the inside, too. Sorry, Charlie, that’s not the case. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into a car that’s sparkling clean on the outside and just flat out horrid on the inside. I’m talking cracked leather, a funky odor from under the seat… everything. I’m sure it’s no secret, but the best way to keep your interior in good shape is to keep it clean. If you’re an at-home-washer, stop by the local gas station and use their industrial vacuum a few times per month – it will really make a difference. Secondly, don’t get complacent. Just because you don’t sit in the back seat doesn’t mean it’s a garbage dump. Just keep it clean, people.
While cleanliness takes priority, nourishment is essential. Condition your leather, your plastic, your vinyl – your interior needs it. I’m sure you’ve noticed cracks in your seats and most definitely some discoloration of your steering wheel… both issues are prevented by conditioning. It’s as simple as cleaning, but goes much further. Heat, temperature change, dirt, grime, and even your jeans all negatively affect the shape your interior surfaces are in. By cleaning and conditioning, you’ll be protecting your interior much like you’ve protected your paint – the effects of which you should notice almost immediately.
Take my word for it, the worst feeling in the car world is realizing in spring that your car’s been neglected due to the weather. What hurts even more is the fact that it’s SO easy to keep up with your car, and with little effort you can effectively shield your car from environmental discharge such as snow, sap, debris, dust, and dirt. Don’t be discouraged by the current conditions, either. While the weather has been quite funky and at times tough to predict, look to take care of the tedious things now so that when you’re ready for a long Sunday cruise come April, your car is, too.