‘Tis the season for rust and salt, which can really take a toll on your paint job. Your car needs extra protection against the elements in the winter time, especially in a cold climate. Here are some tips to keep your paint job looking nice year round.

Keep it Clean

Before you take a soapy rag to your car, be sure to spend a fair amount of time rinsing away all of the dirt from it. If you just start rubbing a cloth along a dry car, the dirt on the surface can scratch the paint. Wash the car in sections, using a specific car cleaner, and rinse it off as you go. This will prevent the detergent from drying to the paint and making a big mess. In the wintertime when the roads are salted, run your car through the car wash once or twice a week between deep washes to rinse away all of the salt that can damage your paint and your undercarriage.

Go the Extra Mile

Always be sure to thoroughly dry your car when you’re finished washing it. If you don’t, the hard water will leave behind water spots. Drying the car by hand also gives you the chance to inspect the surface for any stubborn insects or other dirt left behind that you need to attend to. Use a 100% cotton or sheepskin cloth to dry your car, because microfiber or polyester can scratch the paint. If you find a lot of stubborn dirt left behind, consider using an auto clay detailing treatment to pull impurities away from the surface. Really stubborn stains, such as road tar require a special solvent to be removed without damaging the paint.

Seal the Deal

The best way to keep dirt and impurities from damaging the paint of your car is to keep a healthy coat of wax over the surface. You should apply wax to your paint on a warm, sunny day so the wax will go on smoothly, cure properly, and come off without leaving swirls. Deep waxing only needs to be done about every six months, so you can plan ahead and make sure it’s already been done by the time winter hits.

For a really effective wax, first apply a coat of nourishing carnauba wax. This provides a deep shine, and really brings your paint back to life, but it only lasts about 8 weeks on its own. To add longevity to your wax job, follow up with a sealant coat of wax that won’t wash away or wear off for 6 months. This will offer protection for your paint job from both the baking rays of the summer sun, and harsh winter conditions.