Are We There Yet?: Washing away Winter

It’s just about time to wash off those winter blahs…
Throughout the winter months our vehicles may have built up a collection of salt, sand or gravel. And, although these help to make wintery roads and sidewalks safer, if there’s a layer on you vehicle, it will encourage corrosion. Gravel, small stones, and jagged ice can cause chips in the paint and expose the steel underneath to oxidation and rust. That's why a good spring cleaning is an important part of car maintenance that will help retain the value of your vehicle.

A thorough spring-cleaning should cover all three key areas of your car: exterior, interior, and under the hood.

Taking care of the Exterior

  • Make good use of water. After a full winter of driving, lots of fresh, clean water will clear your vehicle of salt, dirt, and debris. If you can get access to warm or hot water, this will make the job that much easier.  The longer it’s been since your last cleaning the more water the better and don’t forget about the underside of your vehicle too.
  • Start at the top and work your way down. That way, you're less likely to unknowingly transport grit or small stones up from the doors and wheel well that may scratch the paint.
  • Think low. The lower parts of your car will be dirtier, so clean lower than you normally would. And don't ignore around the tires, fenders, headlights, and taillights.
  • Check the windshield and wipers.  Inspect your wipers and replace them if necessary. Clean your windshield, windows, and mirrors and check for any small chips that may require repair before it’s too late.
  • Dry it off. Use a chamois or an absorbent cloth to dry the car thoroughly.
  • Wax protection. Ensure that the wax you use is right for your vehicle and follow the directions carefully.

What's inside counts too

  • De-clutter. After a long winter a few items may have collected on the floor or any nook and cranny in the back seat. Remove skates, hockey sticks, extra boots, and that one stray glove in its proper place.
  • Remove the mats. Take the mats out and give them a good washing. Let them dry before putting them back in. Moisture underneath the mats and in hard-to-reach places (like under the seats) can cause damage. Take the time to let things dry before putting anything back inside the vehicle If you have a de-humidifier in the basement, sit your wet mats nearby overnite and they should be dry by morning.
  • Clean under the rugs. With the mats out, give the car floor a good vacuuming while you check for any damage.
  • Clean the upholstery. Vacuum, spot clean, or use the right upholstery cleaner. Clean between and under the seats, and in and around any child's seat (this is always interesting).
  • Get the salt out. Pour hot water on any salty areas and let soak, then use a dry/wet vacuum to soak it up. This works better than using rags because you avoid rubbing the salt in deeper.
  • Get inside the trunk. Use the same cleaning techniques and check for damage there too.

What's under the Hood

If your car's engine is in fine form, all you'll need to do is a few minor adjustments to get ready for spring. If it's not looking great, or you have questions, take it to a professional for a proper tune-up.

  • Change the oil. Make sure you're using the proper grade for your vehicle. You’ll find this in your Owner’s Manual and if you can’t find that; you can download a .pdf version on most manufacturers websites or you can always call your local dealer.
  • Check the cooling/heating system. Look for frayed hoses and belts and get them replaced. Also check the air filter and replace it if necessary.
  • Do a fluid check. Top up the windshield wiper fluid and check the power steering and brake fluid as well.

If you have the time and skill to do it yourself and following these tips will help you shake off the winter buildup or you can have it professionally detailed at an O’Regan’s Permashine location in Halifax, Dartmouth or Bridgewater.  We have several cleaning and detailing services to choose from.


O’Regan’s on Robie is your Halifax GM headquarters supplying service and support for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles. Visit us at, or drop in to visit the showroom.