Easy Car Care Tips For Interior Health, Exterior Protection

Stormy weather attacks your car from every angle. So staying on top of car care makes all the difference this time of year.

Here are some tips to see you through the storm.

Wheel Care

Just like it does for your paint job, a layer of wheel protectant or traditional wax provides a shield of sorts for wheels.

Such protection takes on added significance in the winter.

“Salts, acids and chemicals used to clear snow and ice of roadways are extremely caustic to a wheel’s finishes," said Adam Bateman, sales and marketing director for Wizards Products, a Minnesota-based polish and wax company.

“Slop and road salt is a way of life in winter, especially in the northern states and Canada. Keeping your wheels clean is about making sure rust and corrosion don’t set in. The bonus is when nice weather sets in you don’t have to work as hard to get the shine back.”

Bateman offers the following suggestions for winter wheel care.

A layer of polish or traditional auto wax provides protection against filthy winter roads.

Clean your wheels every other week, especially if you live in snow. At a minimum, clean wheels every time you wash the vehicle exterior.

Choose a cleaner that is acid-free. A general rule: If it is safe to use on vehicle paint, it is safe to use on wheels.

Upholstery and Carpet Care

Vacuum seats and carpets frequently. Dirt and other particles combine with moisture and embed into fabric strands, making it difficult to remove.

“Routine vacuuming is one of the best things you can do for your interior,” said Jim Dvorak of Mothers, a polish and wax company based in Southern California. "Soil and grit that's stuck to the soles of your shoes collects over time and wears down carpet mats.”

Replace worn out fabric mats with durable ones made of rubber or composite material. Make sure the mat can grip the carpet so it won’t slide around during driving.

“A durable, custom-fitted floor mat puts nature firmly in its place,” said Tara Duncan, director of marketing for Husky Liners, a Kansas-based company designing and developing heavy-duty floor mats. “Custom-molded liners that fit your vehicle’s floorboards keep dust, dirt and debris out of your carpet,” Duncan said.

Body Care

That sleek appearance and pleasantly smooth surface are only part of the benefits of waxing. It can also provide a barrier between your paint and the elements.

"Seasonal storms and other elements are always harshest on the paint," said Mike Pennington, a product expert for Meguiar’s, a company specializing in car care products.

The paint isn’t the only part of the exterior that can be protected. Clay products used to clean a windshield help water repellents work more effectively, he said.