Winter Car Care: 7 Expert Tips To Keep Your Vehicle Fresh & Clean

winter car care tips
Photo by Hamann La

by Car Guide Editor

Don’t worry, Winter doesn’t like you either, especially your car. But you can fight back – Here are 7 handy tips to protect and clean your vehicle when the temperature drops below zero.

Winter is dreadfully, finally here. We all know what winter brings with it – snowfall, icy conditions and salt to help keep the roads clear and safe.  Even though the salt helps make driving safer, it is no friend to your car.

“Not only can the driving conditions in winter be horrible, they are also just brutal on your car,” says Megan Currie, Senior Marketing Manager at Armor All brand. “The roads are a slushy mess, and all the salt used to melt the ice can be corrosive on the body of your car. What’s worse, you track all that sloppy mess into the car with you, leaving an ugly, crusty residue behind.”

The weather conditions in winter also make it unappealing to stand out on the driveway, hose in hand, washing your car. But that doesn’t mean it should suffer months of neglect as it withstands the worst of winter. 

Follow these tips to keep your car clean and well-maintained throughout the long, cold winter:

1. Get rid of all that salt

There is nothing more damaging to your car inside and out than winter road salt. It is corrosive and unsightly, and causes physical damage to your body and upholstery. An industrial-strength carpet and upholstery cleaner with foaming action is perfect for cleaning the salt from the carpet and car mats in your car. It is also good for lifting ground-in stains from the other three seasons as well, including grease, oil and mud. 

2. No Dust: Clean your dash 

Get rid of the last of summer’s dust with a thorough cleaning of your dash, console and doors. Take care of your dashboard and interior trim with a multi-use auto cleaner, and keep it clean and safe from UV damage with an interior protectant

armor all cleaning wipes winter cleaning tips

3. Fresh Smell

The temperature may be dipping below zero, but you can keep you car smelling spring fresh with an air freshener. Whether you prefer a vent clip or something that hangs from your rear-view mirror, an air freshener will help keep your car smelling great. 

4. Clear windows

You can’t see out of dirty windows, and when your windows start to fog up even a little bit in the dead of winter — and they will — every streak becomes obvious. Restore the clarity to your windows with a specialized automotive glass cleaner.

5. Preserve your seats

Leather seats are a nice option in a car, and you will want to preserve them as much as possible. Protect the leather in your car from wayward splashes and salt with a restorer and protectant that will rejuvenate and preserve your leather interior. 

6. Run it through a wash

When spring rolls around, you will want to ensure your car is free of rust and corrosion so that you can get back to giving it that custom shine car enthusiasts love. Give your car a regular wash in the winter, especially the undercarriage, to clean away any salt residue. For an added level of protection against winter’s worst, brave the cold for just a few moments and apply a spray-on wax, which can be applied to a wet or dry vehicle. Simply spray on the carnauba wax and enjoy a mid-winter high-gloss shine that also protects the clear coat on the paint.

7. Clean Rims and Tires

Whether it’s a coin op, or your local car wash, you can easily clean your tires and rims to help prevent salt and road grime from pitting the rims and diminishing the look and moisture in your tires.  Before you turn on the water gun, or drive through the car wash, use a touch free tire and rim cleaner and have the water do the dirty work for your. 

On a separate note, winter tires (opposed to all-weather or all-seasons) are always a good choice. In the province of Quebec in Canada winter tires are actually mandatory, and according to a study by Quebec’s Ministry of Transport, winter tires improved stopping distances by up to 25%, depending on the vehicle type.

AMA has a quick guide on winter tires including the different symbols to look out for.

armor all rims winter cleaning tips