Everyone hates the look of salt on their car during the winter months. Some may ask, why both detailing your vehicle before winter if it is just going to get plastered with salt? Simple. It is easier to clean a vehicle which was recently detailed. A freshly detailed car has nearly no grit built-on the paint which helps reduce build-up and remove dirt that does get on the vehicle. It also helps the paint become nice and slick making for future washes easier. I survive the winter by using a pressure washer and just water. Due to my paint being so slick, I can get a pretty decent clean (good enough for winter) with just two minutes of water.
So, what is Winterizing?
To me, winterizing a car is more than just putting in winter mats and throwing on some winter tires. It also means prepping the paint. There are several steps that should be followed in order to get your paint ready for winter.
Step 1: A good strip-wash
In order to do any paint work, you need to wash the vehicle properly. This usually involves a two-bucket wash. Reason being, you cannot wax a dirty car (you will scratch it). A strip wash involves using dish soap or soap with some all-purpose cleaner. The goal here is to remove any old protect ant, as we will apply new stuff. Some protectants bond better to bare paint, so you do not want old wax on the car.
Step 2: Clay Bar
After the vehicle is washed, you want the paint to be smooth as glass. A simple wash will not accomplish this. Even after a good wash, there is embedded dirt in the paint. This embedded dirt not only prevents the car from shining to its best potential, but it also allows for dirt to stick to the paint better. Using a clay bar removes this embedded dirt. Afterwards, dirt literally flings right off. As a bonus, wax sets in better.
Step 3: Sealant (Optional)
Sealants usually last quite some time. The sealant I use is Adams Machine Super Sealant which is an older formula which use to take 12-24 hours to set in properly. The new stuff, Adams Liquid Paint Sealant sets in as little as half an hour. This is applied usually with a polisher. This step is optional if you do not have a machine polisher. I still recommend a sealant, but if the budget is tight this is the step you *could* skip. You can also use Adams Quick Sealant which can be hand applied.
Step 4: Wax
Now that the vehicle is cleaned, clay barred, and sealed up it is time for wax. You will want to apply the wax very thinly (less is more). To make sure you got every spot, you should do more than one coat of wax (two to be safe).
Step 5: Enjoy the ride
Your vehicles paint is now winterized! Step back and enjoy your work. There are some other steps you can do, such as polishing to remove any scratches, and a glaze for that extra shine but at a bare minimum the above should be followed. Below you will find a few pictures of a vehicle that was winterized with the steps above. This car is not brand new (even though it may look it).