It has already started. Leaves littering the roads, gradually turning to a brown slurry as autumn rains soak everything. Puddles splashing our cars with grime as we drive through them. Berries, twigs, and nuts raining down our car’s precious paintwork.
Before we know it, the temperatures will have plummeted and the gritters will be out again, coating the roads with public enemy number one for anyone who takes pride in how their vehicle looks – rock salt.
It’s true – autumn and, even more so, winter is tough times for our cars. It can feel like you’re fighting a constant losing battle to keep them clean and respectable. Worse, with all the dirt and grit, and debris that covers our roads at this time of year, the risk of genuine damage to your paintwork occurring multiplies many times over.
There are no two ways about it. If you want your car to make it through the winter in anything like decent condition, you need to take action now. Autumn is always an important time for car detailing because it’s your chance to prep your vehicle for the worst of the weather ahead, and make sure you don’t face a real horror show come spring.
Here are some key detailing jobs to prioritise in the weeks ahead.
You should really only be thinking about polishing your car twice a year at most. Any more and the fact that you are applying abrasives to your paintwork can end up doing more harm than good.
If you are going to pick two points in the calendar to polish your car, you can’t go wrong with autumn and spring – one to set you up for the winter, one to undo whatever woes have befallen your body work during the worst of the weather.
Polishing doesn’t, of course, do anything to guard against damage to your paintwork. But you can think of it as giving yourself a clean slate. If all that debris blowing around in high winds and gritty dirt splashing up from the roads ends up scratching your bodywork, what you don’t want is to be adding that on top of existing damage. It just builds up and up until you have a major job on your hands.
By polishing your car now, you know you are heading into the worst season as far as risks to your paintwork go with a fresh, clean slate. Anything you have to do come spring will only have occurred in the next few months.
Finishing is often viewed as a bit like icing a cake. It’s great if you have the time and inclination to really give your car that ‘wow’ factor after it has been detailed. But it’s not what detailing is all about. You still have a cake without icing. You still have a clean, defect-free car without finishing.
But this overlooks the fact that finishing is about more than just appearances. It’s about protecting your bodywork as well. And this is something to prioritise before winter hits. Waxing gives your car a pleasant shine, but it also adds a protective layer against scratches and contaminants. And you can keep applying wax throughout the winter to top up the protection.
As well as wax, autumn is the one time of year when you should really think about applying a sealant to your bodywork. Sealants last longer than wax and provide a more robust level of protection, especially from the elements. You can also use specialist sealants to protect different parts of your car’s exterior, so alloys, rubber tyres, plastic trim, etc. as well as the paintwork.
Finally, don’t just focus on the needs of the outside of your car at this time of year. As the weather gets worse, it takes its toll on the interior, too. Just think about all those muddy boots and wet coats that are going to be climbing inside your car in the next few months. Think of all the debris that might get blown in when you open your doors or wind down your windows in high winds.
As with polishing, giving the inside of your car a thorough clean now will not stop it from getting dirty as the winter progresses. But you make it easier to keep on top of things if you start with a pristine clean interior. Giving the insides a quick once-over every couple of weeks will then be the job of minutes.