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If there's one thing I impress upon my clients, it's arming them with the knowledge that they need in order to protect their hard-earned investment professionally. When it comes to preparing your vehicle for the unforgiving winter months, there are a few "big ticket" items that underscore the process of vehicle ownership.

1. Invariably, the threatening cold temperatures will not only wreak havoc on your paintwork, but the elements can also be transferred into your vehicle's interior. If your vehicle's interior is primarily made of cloth or a softer material, make sure to bring a change of shoes. While this may be excessive to some, you'll be surprised to find how little you have to clean your floor mats just by following this simple step. As a long-term solution, you may want to think about investing in all-weather floor mats.

2. The acceleration of surface contaminants on your paintwork can have adverse effects if left untreated for weeks. If faced with freezing temperatures (anything classified as 32 degrees and below), avoid touching your paintwork until you have an opportunity to wash your vehicle in a warmer environment (garage, indoor parking lot, etc.) One parlance that I've often heard within my industry is. "a week and a half, give it a bath." I know, it sounds a little childish but I guess you could consider this my mnemonic device.

3. After living in downtown Chicago for more than 15 years, apartment and condo dwellers consider it standard protocol to utilize their snow brushes after a fresh blanket of white powder. However, the spate of which can inflict more damage to your paintwork than one might think. Resist the urge to "brush" your vehicle's paintwork. With snow usually comes ice, and in a lot of ways it's difficult to determine how much ice is packed underneath the snow. For this reason alone, it's always best to leave your paintwork untouched until your next scheduled wash.

4. For those that have a customized exhaust system, make sure to direct your hose or pressure washer to your undercarriage and other similar surfaces. Think of your undercarriage as the skeletal framework of your vehicle. If left untreated for a prolonged period of time, the potential for creating rust increases exponentially. Trust me, I've seen the ugly side of onset rust on chrome-based exhaust systems.

5. As a preventative measure, reach for your most resilient form of protection. While a traditional carnauba wax is sufficient, a high-performance ceramic/polymer or glass coating will serve as your best long-term solution so that contaminants won't heavily adhere to your paintwork. Any form of a ceramic/polymer or glass coating bonds tighter against your clear-coat, which in turn will produce a richer level of gloss and a thicker barrier of protection during the unforgiving months. Along the same token, make sure to apply the same step to your painted wheels. Ultimately, your wheels are your first line of defense against the road.

6. Of course, automotive glass is one element that does not receive enough recognition. Rather than reaching for the "dirty wand" as it's aptly named, or the washer fluid brushes that gas stations provide, reach for a 1 gallon sprayer at home. Simply add 1 ounce of automotive specific shampoo, with the remaining amount filled with lukewarm water. This solution will emulsify or "break apart" the dirt and debris that's left on your windshield. Otherwise, micro-scratching can occur leaving you with unappealing permanent streaks within your automotive glass.

7. Much like anything else you own, your windshield wipers have a lifespan. Within the span of just 24 hours, you'd be amazed to see how much dirt and debris gets caked onto these delicate pieces. Whether your wipers are a graphite-composite or silicone-based blade, take a garden-variety microfiber towel along with your favorite shampoo solution and lightly pinch each end of the wiper blade. This is another trick that will keep micro-scratching at bay during the colder months. If temperatures should drop below freezing, prop your windshield wipers up so as to avoid having your windshield wipers stick against your glass.

8. Last but not least, make sure to maintain some form of a regimen. At Blackstone Detail, I continually expound the idea of "restore, preserve, sleep, and repeat." I make it my business to adhere to a strict regimen not only for the sake of my business, but because maintaining what you love is the key to ensuring a long and healthy life with your ride.

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