Winter Wash and Wax
Maintaining the paint on a car or truck is usually low on the to do list as the winter days get shorter and nights colder. The fact is, that thin layer of paint is the only thing protecting the materials underneath. Winter weather can harm the components of the paint that keep it flexible and shining. The important thing to remember here is that the paint needs to stay strong enough to protect the steel underneath, yet flexible enough as not to dry out and lose its strength. Rust and corrosion prevention is lost. Protection against extremes in temperature, road salt, and the UV rays of the sun through the winter months is as simple as a good wintertime wash and wax.
Added ProtectionDe–icing road salts used during winter months are tough on paint. The same salt that damages paint can work through to the steel underneath and rust can take hold. Once the materials that keep the paint tough, yet flexible, get baked dry by the sun or dry winter air, or wicked away by the relentless pelting of moisture, the paint loses its ability to protect the steel underneath from oxidation and rust. This opens the door for the oxidizing properties of road salt to speed up the process of ruination—and soon all is lost. A properly applied coat of protective wax seals in the good stuff in paint, and keeps the bad stuff out. The type of wax you use is a matter of personal preference. Quality is more important than type. Any protection is better than none at all. Applying a quality coat of wax at least every six months will add a layer of protection and help keep paint looking new.
Simple ProcessWhile there are many modern machines that will help you do the job, sometimes the best and gentlest method is a good old–fashioned hand wax. Before waxing any vehicle, the paint surface must be properly prepared. A good cleaning is the first step. Start with the vehicle parked in the shade, and wash with an automotive soap from top to bottom. Never use dish or regular detergent, as it is too harsh for automotive paint. Completely rinse the vehicle first. The last thing you want to do is scratch the finish by pushing dirt around.
Next, reverse the process and make things dry. An automotive squeegee and clean, soft chamois or microfiber towels help achieve this task. Finally, apply wax according to the manufacturer's instructions. Work in small sections, not getting too far ahead of your self. Applying a quality coat of wax at least every six months will go far in protecting your finish, and keep your ride looking fresh. If all goes well, the next time you bust out the wax, it will be a warm spring day!
- Prepare the paint for wax with a wash. Park the vehicle in the shade and allow paint to cool. Rinse from top to bottom with clean water.
- Use a clean sponge or towel and a soap designed for automobiles to remove dirt. Dish soap and other detergents are too harsh for automotive paint.
- Rinse the vehicle. Use a clean, soft towel or chamois to completely dry the paint.
- Apply wax according to the manufacturer instructions. Use a clean cloth or applicator. Work in small overlapping sections. Keep wax away from cracks and crevices.
- Never apply wax in direct sunlight or to hot painted surfaces. The wax will become difficult to remove.
- Allow wax to dry to a haze. Use clean soft cloths to remove wax. Shake out excess wax from cloths while working.