Wisconsin winter weather can be a big challenge for your car: you need to put together an emergency kit, switch to winter tires, make sure the battery is healthy, and do what you can to keep salt at bay. After winter ends, you might only switch to summer tires. However, there’s more that you should be doing to get your vehicle ready for the warm months ahead.
Washing the Exterior
Washing your car should be a regular part of your winter routine, but now that the snow has stopped, you can take the time to remove any remaining road salt to halt corrosion. Pay close attention to the undercarriage and inner fenders: these are the places where most of the salt collects, leading to rusty body panels, brake lines, and frame components. Once your car is clean, apply a layer of wax to shield it from sun damage and pollen.
Cleaning the Floor Mats
No part of your car takes more abuse during the winter than your floor mats. Each time you drive, the salt, snow, and mud you track in gets ground into the surface as you move your feet.
To clean rubber and plastic all weather mats, rinse the mat with water, then go over it with a degreaser or an all-purpose cleaner. Use a heavy brush to loosen the caked on dirt and salt. Rinse the mat again, and blot it with a microfiber towel to dry.
For carpeted floor mats, start by using a heavy carpet brush and a vacuum or shop vac to remove large debris. Apply a fabric or all-purpose cleaner, then go over the carpet again with the brush. Blot the mat with a microfiber towel to pick up the cleaner and loosened dirt. Try to remove as much moisture as possible: if there is cleaner left on the carpet, it will clean the soles of your shoes as your feet move around, and that loosened dirt will end up in the carpet. At this stage, you can apply a fabric protectant, or just let the mat dry.
If you want to restore the color, use a dressing that is labeled as “non-greasy.” Slick surfaces can make it hard to keep your feet on the pedals.
Wiper Blades and Washer Fluid
Winter weather can take a serious toll on your car’s wiper blades; replacing them now will let you choose something that’s a better fit for the weather. Like tires, summer and winter wiper blades are made from compounds that stay flexible at different temperatures. Summer blades will hug the glass better when temperatures warm up, making them more effective at clearing rain from your windshield.
Now is also a good time to switch from a de-icing formula to one that will remove the bugs that will be landing on your windshield on spring and summer nights.
Tires and Brakes
Summer and all-weather tires will give you better performance than winter tires once temperatures are consistently above 45°F. While your tires are being changed, have the technician check the brakes: salt corrosion can cause problems with calipers, rotors and brake lines.
While you’re at it, check your spare tire. The rubber shouldn’t be cracked, and it needs to be aired up to the pressure recommended in your owner’s manual. Don’t have a spare? Your car should include a flat fixing kit. Make sure everything in the kit is within date: tire sealants have a shelf life of around 5 years.
Fix Dents and Scratches
Road gravel, dirty snow and ice scrapers can do some serious damage to your paint. Correcting issues now will save your paint and body panels from needing major auto repairs down the road. While small chips can be fixed by applying touch-up paint, you should get professional help with larger repairs.
Looking for a Body Shop?
Did you have a minor collision sliding on the ice this winter? Are holes showing up in your fenders? Merton Auto Body has the tools and technicians to fix your vehicle. Don’t want to deal with insurance headaches? We’re a preferred shop for most major insurance providers, and we have an on-staff appraiser to get collision repair approved quickly. No matter where you are in Lake Country, our shop is a short drive or tow away. We’re just a few miles northeast of Hartland, up the road from the Ironwood Golf Course.