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Old 10-20-2017, 09:13 PM   #1
nicholam77
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Winter Car Care

Alright guys. I live in MN where they heavily salt the roads and I have to shut off my external water at my house for ~6 months due to freezing temps so I can't do a traditional car wash at home during the winter.

Just wondering if anyone has tips for beating the rust. Is it even possible?

My last car (mk4 Jetta) had rust all over the door sill and it was just hideous to look at. The mk7 is the nicest car I've had and the only one I've bought new and I desperately want to keep it looking good.

I know the true answer to this is to get a beater and garage the mk7, but I just don't have a good place to park it or the extra funds. Plus life is short and I'm not going to be leaving MN anytime soon and don't want to only get to enjoy my car for half the year.

My big question is in terms of rust: is it better to wash the salt off, or keep it away from water? I have access to a "touchless" automatic carwash during winter where no brushes or anything touch the body. It also sprays down the undercarriage. But... this also leaves the underside and a lot of little nooks and crannies like the door sill and hinges, wet. Obviously moisture accelerates rust. My other concern is the soaps in an automatic car wash not being pH balanced and stripping the protective layers I've built up before the winter season. I would assume doing regular touchless washes is the way to go to at least get most the salt off.

My plan for prep this year is to clay bar (never done this before but the car is about 2 years old and figured I'd give it a try), then use a sealant, and then a wax. And a rust inhibitor like FluidFilm on the undercarriage parts.

Will the sealant and wax get stripped by a touchless car wash? Is there a better way? Opti No Rinse or similar? Salt and grime is so heavy here it just seems wrong to grind it in with a no rinse solution. My gut is telling me it should at least be sprayed down first which I can't do.

If anyone has any good winter care routines or techniques I'd love to hear them!
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Old 10-20-2017, 11:11 PM   #2
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Old 10-21-2017, 03:22 PM   #3
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If you don't mind the mess and the looks, fluid film the snot out of it. Collects dirt and grime and looks bad, but boy it does it's job. It is lanolin based too, so it is safe for rubber bushings and the sort, unlike oil based products. Then, in the spring, it pressure washes right off. It wicks too, so it will climb up seams and stuff. Does a great job preventing rust, just make sure the air is still where ever you spray it, the mist goes everywhere if it's windy. Sounds like you may have experience with it already though?

As for the paint, pretty much the same care it gets year around, I say. Why protect the paint any more or less depending on the season? It should be ultimate care all the time. So pick your poison. I would use a silica based sealant or something else that sticks around for a few months, waxes ability to resist winter is not adequate in my opinion, but hey, doesn't hurt.

As for the salt and or salt brine(way worse used here in Ohio) get it off ASAP always, darn with the water, the snow gives you that anyways. Just keep the stuff off as frequently as you can, but never wash it in the freezing temps and allow the water to freeze in your body seams and door components, you will cause damage. I have some stuff called Winter Boost, by AMMO NYC, check out the video for it on YouTube, supposedly it neutralizes the salt and makes it harmless to carbon steel. I keep make car pretty clean through the winter so it is hard for myself personally to say it works or doesn't. Touchless wash shouldn't strip too much away, depending on frequency of going, product you use, and soap the car wash uses. So many variables there.

It sounds like you don't have the luxury of washing your car whenever and inside, so a water less wash process may be something you want to develop. It's last ditch for me, but my WW kit includes 14 edgeless towels, 4 buffing towels, a 32oz spray bottle with a high volume sprayer, and a 2L pump sprayer that makes a really fine mist for 100% panel coverage. It takes me longer then most people, but it's probably because it isn't something I do often or like to do really. My waterless wash is CarPro ECO2o since I have a ceramic coating and that WW is silica based like the coating. Tons and tons of good WW products out there these days.

My favorite thing to do before winter is clay and seal my windows. Makes a huge difference. Solid sheets of ice will fall right off. I use CarPro Reload on my glass and lights. Also, I wipe my wiper blades off with alcohol cleaning pads weekly. Keeping the road grime and salt from deterioration the blades helps with blade contact and water shedding abilities.

Shit....winter is coming....
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Old 10-25-2017, 04:25 PM   #4
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Thank you for the reply. Good information and tips.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:49 PM   #5
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Wax, wax, and more wax. Before you wax, check every inch of the paint for chips, because that's where the rust starts. Wash regularly to keep the salt off, use a good touchless wash to avoid scratches. I'm not sure if it's a problem on VWs (as this is my first one), but Honda cars always start rusting at the back edge of the rear wheel arch, because that's where the salt collects, and the undercoat is chipped from many rocks hitting it. If you have a coin-operated DIY car wash nearby, make use of their powerwashers to prevent this. Most drive-through or touchless washes are not able to clean in there.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:04 PM   #6
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I've been using Colonite "detergent proof" paste wax on my last few vehicles and though a pain to apply, it appears to provide that long-lasting, sacrificial layer that paint needs here in the rust belt.
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:46 AM   #7
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Steel rusts faster in saltwater. The presence of salt acts as a catalyst, accelerating the corrosion chemical reaction process. Salt is an electrolyte, and it contributes ions into water. Those that live in colder climates are well aware of the corrosive danger of salt and have to check their cars regularly during the winter for signs of rust if salt is regularly spread on their roads to combat ice.

So I think you're better off washing off the salt from the body and undercarriage. Carwash sounds good, or if you can access your hot water heater add a valve and hose bib to the cold or both hot and cold pipes on top of the tank. To rinse the undercarriage take a long piece of schedule 40 PVC tubing, cap off one end, install a female hose connector at the other and drill holes in the tubing to spray water. Then you just drive over it or wave it underneath.
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:56 AM   #8
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Dude, I live in Minneapolis too. Wash your car once a week, take your wheels off every once in awhile, clean the insides of them and wipe down your brakes and rotors ( where the rotors touch your rims) and you'll be good to go. My car is a year old this week, drove it every day last winter and it still looks new.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:08 AM   #9
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Keep the salt off as often as possible. Pressure wash at least once a week and do a waterless wash just after the pressure wash to keep the paint as clean as possible. You will notice a difference after ten years as opposed to not washing at all.

I also had a MKIV GTI and hated that it rusted on the wheel wells right behind the front tires at the bottom. But the car wasn't that rusty as many others I would see even with it being 15 years old before I sold it.
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Old 12-07-2017, 06:52 PM   #10
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Park it til spring.
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