By Dave Reed, CD-SV, D.A.R. DETAILING, Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom

Detailing your vehicle during the winter months or during cold weather requires special considerations. Different environmental conditions need to be considered such as snow, salt, and other harsh conditions that can affect your vehicle’s exterior and interior surfaces. Here are some tips for effectively detailing your car during the winter months:

1. Choose a controlled environment: Ideally, if you can detail your vehicle indoors – such as in a heated garage – that would be the optimum solution. This prevents freezing temperatures from affecting the chemicals used for detailing the vehicle and helps maintain a consistent environment for the detailing process; however, we understand this isn’t an option for everyone.

2. Consider starting the vehicle: Let it run on idle, and turn the temperature up to heat the surfaces (heat rises). Temperatures must consistently be above freezing point (0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure the water and chemicals do not freeze on the vehicle’s surface. If temperatures drop mid job, then rinse all areas worked on to that point, cease work, and reschedule to another time for the safety of the vehicle and yourself.

3. Pre-Wash: Before beginning the detailing process, give your car a thorough rinse to remove any loose dirt, salt, and debris. This helps prevent scratching the paint during the contact wash process. After rinsing down the vehicle with water, apply a blanket of snow foam or an alternative chemical such as a citrus-based cleaner as a suitable prewash, let dwell, and rinse thoroughly.

4. Clean the wheels and undercarriage: Winter road conditions can lead to a buildup of salt and grime on the wheels and undercarriage. Make sure to thoroughly clean these areas to prevent corrosion and rust.

5. Two-bucket wash method: When washing your car, use the two-bucket wash method to minimize the risk of scratching the paint. One bucket contains car shampoo/soapy water, and the other contains clean water for rinsing your wash mitt. If you have access to warm water, then use this to fill your buckets.

6. Dry thoroughly: After washing, use a soft drying towel and/or warm forced filtered air to carefully dry the car’s exterior. This prevents water from freezing on the surface.

7. Interior cleaning: The interior of your car can also suffer during the winter. Vacuum the carpets and upholstery, and clean the dashboard and other surfaces with appropriate interior cleaners. Be aware that the shampooing and wet extraction of fabric surfaces will take a great deal longer to fully dry in colder temperatures and so it may be that this type of work is best scheduled during a warmer period/season.

8. Glass care: Ensure that all windows, mirrors, and headlights are clean and free of smudges and debris for optimal visibility. Use an appropriate glass cleaner and dedicated glass cloths to clean these surfaces.

9. Tire and trim care: Apply tire/trim dressing to the tires and trim to enhance their appearance and protect them. Take care during colder temperatures to dry tires and trim prior to applying any protective dressings or sealants.

10. Regular maintenance: Throughout the winter, perform regular maintenance to keep your car looking its best. Remove snow and ice promptly, and consider periodic top ups to maintain any protective wax’s or sealants.

11. Final touches: Inspect your work for any spots you may have missed, and stand back and admire your freshly detailed vehicle!

12. Consider your own wellbeing: Wrap up warm; layers are good. Wear a warm beanie or hat. Think about a hot drink at an appropriate stage in the detailing process to keep warm. If using cold water, then look into wetsuit material type gloves/gauntlets to stop your hands and fingers from going numb when continually submerged in cold water.

By following these tips, you can help keep your car looking its best even in the challenging winter conditions. Of course, you can always contact your local professional detailer, who will use their expertise and equipment to help provide the proper care for your vehicle in any season!

About the Author: Dave Reed, CD-SV, is the owner of D.A.R. DETAILING in Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom.