When a rainstorm hits, something different happens to each and every one of our cars. Some may be garaged, others are out driving, and who knows, maybe your neighbor wasn’t expecting rain and left his car’s sunroof open. Point is, how you clean up after a rainstorm is going to be unique to your car. This guide is meant help you identify and take care of common problems after heavy rain, so take what’s necessary and bank what’s not for when it is.
One of the most common occurrences during a big rainstorm is water damage. Typically this is when a significant amount of water is allowed into your car through a window or sunroof and begins to saturate your car’s interior surfaces (eg. carpets, seats). When left untreated water damage will cause mold, foul odors, and can even damage your car’s electronics (most of what controls power seats is attached to the floor boards below them). Now, of course, there are varying degrees of water damage, but we’ve put together a walkthrough on how to remedy the situation: Curing Water Damage. This does require certain supplies (fans, power tools to remove carpeting or seats, and more), so opting for professional treatment is often a good option.
If you’re (relatively) lucky and only left your window cracked open, you may open your car door to find your seats wet. While chances are you’ve just been plagued by a light misting, in the event that the seats have become fully saturated you’ll want to jump back up to the water damage section above and get it handled. If they’re just a little wet you’re in the clear. No matter the surface (leather, vinyl, upholstery), your first step is to clean the area and allow it to fully dry. Typically this means overnight with the windows open in a covered garage, but if you have a detailing fan it can be expedited and complete in just a few hours.
Leather Seats: Always clean and condition your leather after it has been wet. Water does a funny thing to leather and makes it prune, almost like our fingertips. Cleaning will remove any contaminants and conditioning will restore nutrients to strengthen the surface and leave it looking great.
Cloth Seats: You might need to bust out a shop-vac or at least a scrub brush and shampoo if your cloth seats get soaked. Like your carpets, mold can form quite easily if you don’t take care of the situation relatively soon.
Debris & Contaminants
After any rainstorm, chances are your car is covered in leaves, dust, pollen, and anything else mother nature could whip up. Sure it may look hideous, but the real problem facing your car is that some of those contaminants may be causing harm to the finish. Microscopic debris can get embedded in your paintwork very easily if your car isn’t protected. Removing this means claying your car, but you don’t always necessarily need to. Because of this, your first step after a rainstorm should always be to wash the car. You’ll remove all the big debris and hopefully restore a bit of shine to your ride. Now is when you’d see if you need to clay.
Waterspots happen often when cars are allowed to air dry. Basically they are hardened sediment that, if left untreated, can potentially etch your paint. In areas where acid rain is prevalent, this is obviously a major concern as the more acidic the water is, the more damage the sediment can cause. Your best bet here is to use a paint cleanser to decontaminate the finish. Do this after a car wash and always protect the finish afterward. Doing so will make sure you’re shielded from anything else the environment throws your way.
If your car has been affected at all by a recent rainstorm, chances are there’s a reason to detail your car. The most common are the obvious – water damage, wet seats and carpets, removing debris, and fixing waterspots. While some more extreme damage might require a professional, you can take care of a lot of this right from your garage. Just remember to clean, dry, and condition or protect each and every surface and you’ll be fine.
As always, we’re here to help navigate you through any specific situation. Just drop us a comment below or ask us on facebook and we’ll make sure you know everything necessary to take care of the situation properly.