STORM DAMAGE & PREVENTATIVE CARE
From ice, to snow, to unnavigable thunderstorms, I thought it would be worth noting a few tips and tricks to preserving and protecting both your automotive glass and paintwork. As always, you'll find a few links to some recommended products that should help you stay ahead of the curve.
While you may have an irrepressible need to employ the use of an automotive ice scraper, it's always best practice to let your windshield and all other automotive glass defrost until a majority of ice turns to water.
If not, the potential of marring the outer layer increases exponentially, thereby causing the UV coating on the surface to prematurely fail. At the end of the day, no one enjoys looking through their windshield at night only to notice topical scratches scattered throughout.
Similar to the first point made, be sure to prop your windshield wipers (including any rear wiper) prior to any major storm including ice, snow, and even violent thunderstorms. If convenient, take them off completely. Once the storm passes, assess the condition of your wipers to see if any contamination still remains including, but not limited to twigs, dust, dirt, debris, ice, and more.
With one clean and dry microfiber towel, dampen it with distilled water and your favorite automotive shampoo, then lightly pinch one end and run it across the surface of the blade back and forth. Any additional pressure will strip the carbon shaving off of the blade, which in turn will shorten its lifespan.
To finish, take a second clean and dry microfiber towel and wipe off any excess. Introducing too much pressure can abrade the graphite or silicone coating that exists on the blade causing it to prematurely fail. With proper care, any wiper blade can last for several years before another one needs to be replaced.
Similar to the first point, your paintwork is extremely delicate. Unfortunately, newer vehicles (those that were produced from 2008 onward) contain 2 mils/2 microns (1 micron=1,1000th of an inch worth of clearcoat). When putting this into perspective, a post-it note thickness equates to only 3 mils or 76 microns worth of material. When you dip below freezing (32 degrees), it's best to let your paintwork sit until warmer temperatures appear.
I know that condo and apartment dwellers feel compelled to wash right before or after these wintry mixes, but once the water freezes, it can temporarily freeze the door handle mechanism causing the hinges to lock, not to mention the rubber door seals splitting in various places. This is one of those times where being a hero is a bad idea. When you should become aware of ice storms approaching your area, let the thought of cleanliness leave your mind. I'd rather have a dirty vehicle than risk water freezing in the doorjambs.
If you simply don't have the space to park your vehicle in a dedicated shelter or garage, invest in a quality car cover. While I don't necessarily endorse the thought of draping, thereby potentially scraping against the surface of your vehicle, any ice storm or blizzard will have minimal effect.
If you don't already possess all-weather floormats, then you should really think about investing in a set. If you're of the outdoor persuasion, more specifically, you're part of a family that partakes of outdoor sports then rubber all-weather floormats will not only extend the life of your carpeted floormats, but will reduce the potential of instilling magnesium chloride into the fibers of your original interior.
I've mentioned this several times over in other articles, but your undercarriage takes a beating more than any other portion of your vehicle, and thankfully there are protective waxes, such as Lanoguard, which is specifically formulated to protect any metal-based component underneath your chassis. The application method could not be any easier. Simply spray the surface that needs to be covered and let it sit for a period of 30-45 before driving. This form of protection should be applied at least twice a year, but this will give you the peace of mind knowing that if you should be driving in unforgiving climates, especially along the east coast, you'll be covered against anything weather should toss in your direction.
It should be considered common sense to monitor the pressure on all your tires, including your spare tire. If a blowout should occur, the last thing you want looming over your head is the thought of providing air in unforgiving temperatures. If your vehicle has the capacity, you might want to think about investing in a portable air compressor. Even if you aren't stuck in that dreaded ice storm, it comes in handy when you might need it most.
I know I need not mention this, but If you're a frequent driver that adds substantial mileage, having an emergency kit stowed away should be considered standard operating procedure. Having a travel bag stocked with necessities such as automotive cleaning supplies, flashlight, jumper cables, water, medical gear, and even a tire plug kit is essential.
Much like anything else in life, maintenance is required in some fashion. If you plan on keeping your new vehicle for the long-term, the only part of your paintwork that you should be touching (with the exception of healthy washing practices and a form of paint protection) is the door handle.
Automotive Glass Towel
Lanoguard Undercarriage Protection
Viair Portable Air Compressor