Preventing Winter Paint Damage
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Preventing Winter Paint Damage

When we think of the harm that our vehicles face in the winter, we mostly think of accidents caused by slick roads and the eventual formation of rust. However, this weather isn’t great on your paint, either. These tips will help you protect the look of your vehicle and stop problems before they start.

Keep Your Car Covered

When snow and ice build up on your car, you should remove it before you drive, and that means contact between the paint and the brushes and scrapers you use. Ideally, you should park your car in a garage, but if that’s not an option, consider investing in a car cover. This will stop accumulation from bonding directly with your vehicle, saving your paint and saving you time cleaning each morning.

Don’t Park on the Road

Street parking may be illegal where you’re at during the winter, and for good reason: if a snow plow drives by, it can pour ice, snow, and debris all over your car. Worse still, if you’re near a slick spot, passing cars could end up sliding into your vehicle.

Use the Right Tools

Most ice scrapers come with a brush for removing snow, but if you really care about the look of your vehicle, you should use a snow broom. Instead of bristles, these brooms use stiff foam pads that can move the snow without scraping your paint.

When it comes to ice, you and your paint will have an easier time if you warm up your car. A heated cabin and engine compartment will melt the ice next to the body panels, letting you push or lift it off instead of scraping it off.

Keep it Waxed

Wax both seals the paint and protects it, reducing direct exposure to the weather and keeping precipitation from sticking to the surface. While detailers and enthusiasts have long debated the merits of Carnauba and polymer wax when it comes to shine, polymer wax is the clear winner for winter protection because it lasts longer. Once you have a solid coat on your car, you can use spray wax to maintain protection.

Keep it Washed

Washing your car as soon as temperatures are above freezing is key to protecting the paint and underlying sheet metal. The ionization process that converts the iron in your car’s body panels and the oxygen in the surrounding water into rust is most active when temperatures are above 35ºF.

When you wash your car, an automatic car wash will be able to spray the undercarriage where most of the salt accumulates, keeping it off the edges of the sills and fenders.
Once the car is clean, dry rubber parts including seals and mud flaps after washing to keep them from freezing. Ice doesn’t just damage these parts, it opens spaces that can trap salt and debris against the paint.

Repair Chips as They Happen

If you see a chip larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen, it should be covered with some touch-up paint. This paint usually comes in something that looks like a bottle of nail polish, complete with a brush.

Normally, getting a good finish with this type of paint requires application followed by light sanding to eliminate the brush strokes. However, you can avoid the brush marks altogether by using a fine line pen. Designed for making pinstripes, this is a simply a handle with a tiny reservoir and a needle tip on the end. This tool can be used to drip paint into the chip, filling it evenly. For the best results, wipe the chipped area with rubbing alcohol before applying the paint. After it’s had a day to dry, reapply wax to the area.

When Your Paint Looks Bad, Turn to the Professionals

Merton Auto Body offers a full range of body services including detailing, painting and sheet metal repair. Let us restore the look of your vehicle after snow and salt have taken their toll. We’re an I-CAR Gold Class certified shop, and our technicians are ASE certified, so we have the skills and tools to restore any car, new or old. We even have an appraising center to get work approved by your insurance company so repairs can be made quickly and you can be back on the road in no time. Visit our website at for more information, or stop by our convenient location in Sussex, WI. We proudly service Waukesha County and the surrounding Lake Country areas, including Oconomowoc, Hartland, Delafield, and Pewaukee.



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