The wonderful summer we’ve just enjoyed has done much to suppress our memories of last winter, which was one of the longest and coldest on record in the UK (up here in Aberdeenshire it started in November and persisted through until May!). However, with the evenings now drawing in and a noticeable chill in the air, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that winter is once again approaching. Indeed, snow is already being forecast for October and local authority gritters will undoubtedly be making an appearance on our roads soon. Several years ago we posted an in-depth article on our blog about road salt and the need for car care enthusiasts to protect their cars against it…
The background information and maintenance advice presented in the above article remains as equally valid today, but some of the product recommendations we made are now out of date (reflecting the speed at which the car care market has evolved in recent years). Therefore, what follows below is a revised set of winter protection recommendations, including an explanation of why we’ve chosen each system, plus product usage tips and maintenance advice. Our aim is to enable you to quickly identify which system is right for you and encourage you to make the time to get your car protected before the weather turns and the salt goes down. Now is the time to act!
1. WERKSTAT (best if you don’t have access to an indoor workspace)
For the last three years running Werkstat has been the bestselling paint protection system in our store, and it also just happens to be one of our preferred options for winter protection too. The reasons for this are simple. Firstly, it is very simple and straightforward to use, and is undemanding in terms of its application process. By this we mean that it can be used outside with ease, and that it doesn’t need to be kept under cover while it cures. Secondly, it is easy to maintain during the winter months, as both the spray sealant and the quick detailer work really well in cold and/or damp conditions. Thirdly, it doesn’t compromise on aesthetics, as it delivers a superb finish on all colours.
The above points combine to make Werkstat an ideal choice of winter protection for enthusiasts who don’t have access to an indoor workspace, and/or those looking to keep their winter preparation detail and subsequent maintenance routine as simple as possible. Furthermore, all bases are covered with this system, as it can be used to seal more than just bodywork; as we will explain below, you can also use it to seal exterior glass, plastic and metal-effect trims, wheel rims and exhaust tips. All you need to do to achieve best results with this system is wash and decontaminate your car first, and then apply the individual Werkstat products as follows…
Starting with the bodywork and any high gloss exterior trims, you should apply a basecoat of Prime (formerly Prime Acrylic) and then top this with 2-3 coats of Jett (formerly Acrylic Jett Trigger) applied back to back (there is no need to wait between each coat, as curing occurs almost immediately upon contact). As you apply the Jett you should also go over any textured exterior trims (it seals these surfaces too without altering their appearance). If you wish, you may also repeat the above process on your rims, although given the degree of salt exposure that wheels endure during the winter months, you may wish to consider adding a final topcoat of a dedicated wheel sealant such as Auto Finesse Mint Rims or Swissvax Autobahn too. Finally, you should use Prime Strong to cleanse and seal all unwiped windows and all metal-effect exterior trims, plus the exhaust tips too (if visible).
To maintain the resulting finish through the winter months you should do as follows. Firstly, foam your car on a weekly basis with Auto Finesse Avalanche and rinse it off with pure water obtained using an Aqua Gleam De-Ionising Water Filter. This will enable you to keep on top of the worst of the salt and grime without having to physically touch the car or spend hours out in the cold each week washing and drying it. Secondly, you should hand wash it once a month (after foaming first) using Wash (formerly Auto Body Wash), so as to ensure that all of the salt and grime is periodically removed. After doing this and drying off, top up the finish on all previously treated surfaces with Glos (formerly Acrylic Glos), and retreat all metal-effect trims and the exhaust tips (if visible) with Prime Strong. This routine will see you through to the spring safely, at which point a full decontamination will be needed again to remove accumulated tar spots and any bonded metal contaminants.
2. GYEON (best option if you have access to an indoor workspace)
The GYEON brand name is a recent addition to our store, but their state of the art quartz coatings represent the cutting edge of car care technology. In simple terms, these coatings lay down protection that is 2-3 times harder and more durable than conventional sealants and waxes. Furthermore, this protection is also far more chemically resistant, which means that detergent-based cleaners (such as snow foams and shampoos) do not degrade the finish anywhere near as quickly over time. However, these benefits come at a price. Compared to conventional sealants and waxes, GYEON quartz coatings are more time consuming to apply, and they also demand the use of a warm and dry indoor workspace, both for the application process itself and a subsequent 12-24 hour curing period during which the car must not be exposed to the elements under any circumstances.
The above points combine to make GYEON quartz coatings an ideal choice of winter protection for enthusiasts who have access to an indoor workspace, and for those who don’t mind investing more time in the application process in order to obtain maximum performance and durability. Furthermore, all bases are covered with this system, as it can be used to seal more than just the bodywork; as we will explain below, you can also use it to seal exterior glass, plastic and metal-effect trims, wheel rims and exhaust tips. However, in order for GYEON quartz coatings to adhere and bond properly it is vital that all surfaces to be treated are prepared thoroughly in advance. You must therefore wash and decontaminate your car first, and then machine polish the bodywork to remove any sub-surface defects before applying the individual coatings as follows…
Starting with the bodywork, you should prepare the surface with Q2M PREP and then apply the recommended number of coats of either Q2 PRIME or Q2 MOHS (the former is quicker and easier to use and is thus better suited to the needs of car care enthusiasts). If you wish, you may also repeat the above process on your rims, although given the degree of salt exposure that wheels endure during the winter months, you may wish to consider using Q2 RIM instead, as this specially developed formula offers even more resistance to road salt and wheel cleaning chemicals. Next, you should prepare all of the exterior trims (high gloss, textured and metal-effect) with Q2M PREP and then apply a coat of Q2 TRIM. Moving on, you should apply Q2 VIEW to the glass (being sure to use the supplied products in the correct order) and Q2 RIM to the exhaust tips (if visible) and any other exposed metal surfaces. Finally, you must then leave the car indoors to cure for a minimum of 12-24 hours before sealing all of the freshly treated surfaces with 1-2 coats of Q2M CURE (excluding the glass).
To maintain the resulting finish through the winter months you should do as follows. Firstly, foam your car on a weekly basis with Auto Finesse Avalanche and rinse it off with pure water obtained using an Aqua Gleam De-Ionising Water Filter. This will enable you to keep on top of the worst of the salt and grime without having to physically touch the car or spend hours out in the cold each week washing and drying it. Secondly, you should hand wash it once a month (after foaming first) using Q2M BATHE, so as to ensure that all of the salt and grime is periodically removed. After doing this and drying off, top up the finish on all previously treated surfaces (excluding the glass) with a fresh coat or two of Q2M CURE. This routine will see you through to the spring safely, at which point a decontamination treatment will be needed to remove any tar spots and bonded metal contaminants. However, the decontamination process will not remove the coatings; all you will need to do is top them again with 1-2 fresh coats of Q2M CURE and your car will then be ready for the summer.
We hope that you find the above recommendations useful; they reflect the approaches that we will be personally using on our own cars this coming winter. Furthermore, to ease to financial blow of kitting yourself out with some of the above products, we’ve just launched a winter preparation special offer that runs through until midday on 31/10/13; 10 % off all orders over £75 should encourage you to get stuck in and get your car protected this year!