I know, I know — it’s cold and wet outside and the last thing you want to think about is washing the car. But all the frozen road grime that comes with winter weather is precisely why you want to keep on top of keeping things clean. Salt and ice left on metal bits for long periods of time can cause rust, and built-up dirt clinging onto the paint will make it all the more harder to remove when spring rolls around. Follow along OpenRoad’s tips to help your vehicle survive the cold season in excellent shape.
Keep a schedule
Don’t be the guy who waits until his ride looks as though it just came back from off-roading before breaking out the cleaning supplies. Once every two weeks is ideal, although any regular, semi-frequent interval is better than none. Make a reoccurring entry in your calendar if that helps.
Use the right tools
Fill a bucket with warm water and add a healthy pour of auto-specific soap for the job. Before starting, spray down the exterior to remove any loose muck. Invest in a good microfiber or lamb wool wash mitt designed to pick up and trap loose particles while you wash. In a pinch, a basic sponge, preferable a newish one, will do. Scrub in a straight line, in the same direction wind flows over the body during a drive, to minimize the appearance of swirl marks. Rinse off the mitt or sponge after completing each panel before dunking back into the bucket.
Pro tip: try using an inexpensive speciality device for those hard-to-reach areas like the roof rack or between wheel spokes. For example, Brush Hero is a rotating brush that fits onto any standard hose and uses water pressure rather than electricity to gently spin the head. Once switched on, Brush Hero continues to rotate even if pressed up against a surface. As a bonus, water used is about half the amount compared to an open faucet. The starter kit includes both a soft and stiff head, and there several accessories available to increase functionality.
Don’t forget about the interior
The cabin can often take just as much a beating from the elements as the outside. Most cars are outfitted with standard cloth floor mats, but they tend to collect slush and mud as well as stay wet for a long time inviting mould to form. In other words, not winter ready. Instead, swing by the dealer and pick up a set of OEM rubber mats made specifically for your make and model. Most feature grooves to contain debris and prevent water from sloshing out and onto the carpet, and are super easy to wipe down. A handful of aftermarket companies also produce custom fit “3D” sets providing even deeper channelling and covering a larger area.