How to Detail Cars in the Winter

Winter is coming…

Winter time is the most difficult time of the year to keep a vehicle clean. Snow, ice, and road salt are major threats to automobiles so it is important that you are able to handle them quickly and properly.

Add in the fact that many don’t wash or detail their vehicles during cold months, and this particular season can be a detailer’s worst nightmare. So, follow these tips to stay safe while cleaning and detailing in the winter months.

Tip 1: Use a waterless wash system

For vehicles that are kept up regularly, Detail King developed a super concentrated waterless washing formula called Aloha Rinseless Wash that you can use to wash a vehicle right in the garage without a hose or pressure washer. Simply spray it evenly over the surface, then wipe it with a wet microfiber towel or wet wash mitt. For dirtier vehicles, mix product in a bucket and use your microfiber towel or mitt to wash section by section. Detail King’s Aloha Rinseless Wash can easily lift dirt without scratching the paint. If the vehicle has several layers of dirt or build-up on it, wipe gently multiple times, or consider a more conventional wash with a hose or pressure washer and traditional carwash soap.

Detail King’s battery-operated Low-Pressure Sprayer will allow you to wash vehicles this way in an extremely efficient manner. Whether you are washing your own vehicle or have a business and are washing several vehicles daily, this system can handle the volume with its long-lasting battery.

Tip 2: Apply exterior paint protection before Winter

Applying protection to the exterior of your vehicle prior to the start of winter is recommended so that the exterior of your vehicle is protected against the harsh chemicals that are used in the winter to melt snow and ice such as sodium chloride (salt), halite (rock salt), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, brine, etc.

These harsh chemicals and abrasive materials can be highly detrimental to all exterior surfaces of a vehicle so having protection is extremely important to prolong the vehicle’s life. Another benefit to having protection is that the vehicle will be much easier to clean if there is some form of protection on it.

There are various forms of protection that can be applied to automotive paint – specifically the clear coat which is the top layer of paint:

  • Carnauba Waxes, like our Cherry Wet Wax, are a natural and very common form of protection that has been around for ages. Originating from the protection that it provides trees in the rainforest, carnauba happens to bond decently to automotive paint. A good carnauba wax will last about 3-4 months under average conditions. During the winter when harsh chemicals are used for keeping roads safe, the protection time will diminish each time the vehicle comes in contact with these harsh chemicals so that timeframe will be shorter in areas with harsh winters.
  • Polymer Sealants, like our STS3000, are designed just for protecting automotive paint. A good polymer sealant will last about twice as long as a carnauba wax (6-12 months), but again that timeframe will diminish when harsh chemicals are introduced.
  • Ceramic Coatings from our Jade Line-Up are a newer option that has come about over the last 10 years or so in the automotive world. There are different ceramic products with different durability periods ranging anywhere from 1yr up to 7yrs. Unlike wax or sealant, ceramic coatings are chemical resistant and will last much longer. Ceramic coatings will take more effort to apply but will give unrivaled results when it comes to protection. Not only are they chemical resistant, but they are also scratch-resistant too!

Tip 3: Protect the interior prior to Winter

Throughout the winter months, fabric seats, leather seats, fabric floor mats, rubber floor mats, carpeted areas, etc. tend to take much more abuse than in the summer months. Protection on these surfaces is important all the time but even more imperative during the winter months.

Applying fabric protection to carpets and upholstery will make cleaning much easier after the winter time, and you won’t have the salt, sludge, brine, etc. absorbing into the material and eventually staining if good fabric protection is utilized. Our Jade A65 Fabric Guard is our best fabric protection and will last anywhere from 6-12 months.

Tip 4: Clean and protect wheels throughout the Winter

In the winter, don’t forget how important cleaning and protecting your wheels can be. Just like the rest of the exterior, the wheels will take a beating and it is usually a worse beating than the other areas of the exterior. Keeping your wheels clean and looking good can be extremely tough but neglecting them will lead to quick deterioration.

Anytime a vehicle drives through snow or on a road that has been salted during the winter, they will kick up and pick up anything that is on that road. The salt, brine, and other harsh chemicals mentioned earlier will sit on the face of the wheel and make it into every crack and crevice of the wheel. If this is not cleaned quickly, it will start to eat away at the finish of the wheel leading to deterioration no matter what type of finish it has (chrome, aluminum, powder coat, clear coat, etc.).

Use Detail King’s Citrus Cleaner for your regular cleaning along with the appropriate brushes for wheels.

Having protection on your wheels throughout the winter will make the cleaning process much quicker and much easier. A polymer sealant like our STS3000 or one of the exterior ceramic coatings from our Jade Ceramic Coating Line-Up will do the trick!

Tip 5: Offer Winter prep, maintenance, and clean-up services

A business tip! Detailing business owners should offer services just prior to winter, throughout the winter, and just after the winter is over. Not only is it important to keep vehicles maintained throughout the winter season, but it is also important for a business to stay busy during the months when some of their customers might not be thinking about keeping their cars in tip-top shape.

  • Pushing “Winterization Services” at the end of fall through the beginning of winter will help get a rush of business during that time.
    Offering “Winter Maintenance” services throughout the entire winter will help keep a steady stream of work.
    Pushing “Winter Clean-Up” services around the end of the winter and into the springtime will help keep business rolling in through the springtime.

All of these services will bring in revenue and keep your business steady through months that can be somewhat inconsistent, and they will also make your work easier if you are seeing these vehicles more than once or twice a year. Your customers will like it too because not only will they have a clean car on a regular basis, but they will not have to spend as much money all at once to have you do more extensive and time-consuming work on their vehicle if they would have waited 6-12 months before coming back!

Tip 6: Offer Express Exterior Winter Services

The exterior services could include: power washing the undercarriage, hand washing the exterior, claying the painted surfaces, and applying Aqua Seal for a quick layer of protection and shine while drying the vehicle.

Tip 7: Offer Express Interior Winter Services

For the interior, Detail King recommends keeping it simple. Offer a thorough vacuuming to remove salt and dirt, carpet & mat shampoo plus extraction (if necessary), and protection for the vinyl, plastic, upholstery, and leather with some form of protectant. Our Jade A65 Fabric Guard is recommended for upholstery/carpet, and our Jade Leather & Vinyl coating is recommended for the leather/vinyl/plastic components.

Here’s a video recap of these tips:

Call the Detail King team at 724-325-0066 to learn more about winter detailing services.