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On The Record: How To Keep Your Car In Shape This Winter

* Winter conditions wreak havoc on your car’s internal and external parts
* Practice proper winter maintenance to ensure stress-free driving
* Have winter-specific products in hand to treat any issues that come up

One of the worst parts of winter is the daily commute — especially if it involves trudging your way through inches of snow, sleet and slush. Your cars are built to handle most conditions, but even light snow or a drop in temperatures could lead to problems if left undiagnosed.

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Image courtesy of Meguiar’s


We spoke to Mike Pennington, Product Specialist at Meguiar’s, about how to tell when your car needs a little TLC — plus some easy ways for you to get it all done at home.

What began more than a century ago as a simple furniture polish laboratory in the garage of founder Frank Meguiar, Jr.’s house, now spans the globe as an international car care brand, and many of Meguiar’s products are made especially to help with winter driving. Here’s what to look out for this season — and what to get.

Why is it important to keep up your car maintenance during the winter? How can winter conditions affect the condition of our car — and how we drive?
It is important to keep up “appearance” maintenance during winter as a preventative step due to all the harsh conditions, like snow, sleet, rain, mud, etc. If left on finishes, wheels, brakes and your car undercarriage for an extended amount of time, those things can create permanent damage, like etching and staining on paint.

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We all know visibility can be a factor on icy roads. How can people ensure that they are achieving maximum visibility while driving?
Two things can easily be done: first, make sure your plastic headlights lenses are clean and clear, so you have maximum lighting for those long dark nights. Second, make sure you clean your windshield thoroughly with a clay bar and then apply a rain repellent, which will also help with visibility.

How often should we be caring for our vehicles’ exterior during the winter?
A good synthetic wax should be applied before winter arrives, then a good spray wax should be applied at least once when there is a quick break in the weather and a sunny day.

What if we live on the West Coast, where there isn’t snow – how should we best maintain our vehicles?
The same care that happens during other seasons should be continued in areas like regular washing with a quality automotive wash, and a good coat of a synthetic wax 3-4 times per year.

Are there “car symptoms” to look out for when caring for our vehicles?
On painted surfaces, do regular visual checks when washing to look for scratches, dents or scraps and repair as needed. Keep an eye on tire pressures, tire wear, and periodically look for any small cracks and chips in windows that may need repair.

With damp weather conditions, the interior of our vehicle can sometimes bring along an unpleasant smell. How do we best care for this?
The best way to care for this would be to utilize winter floor mats that trap and collect moisture. Make sure to empty and clean them often, too. If you get snow, mud or water on the regular floor mats and cloth seats, make sure to clean and vacuum them regularly with an interior fabric cleaner to reduce any bad odors from moisture. Then use a permanent odor eliminator to remove any trapped odors as needed.

6 Ways to Keep Your Car Clean Inside and Out