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It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time to think about winter protection for your car. As a professional detailer and longtime car nut, I’ve done my fair share of winter vehicle prep. Here are my 5 tips to protect your car this winter.

Rubberized floor mats can protect your car carpet this winter

WeatherTech Floor Liner
WeatherTech Floor Liner | WeatherTech

Tracking in snow is one thing, but tracking in salt can really ruin your car’s interior. Protect your car carpet this winter with rubberized floor mats. Full-coverage solutions are best, like those from Weathertech. These are cut to fit and include deep side wells to prevent salt, water, and dirt from escaping the mat and burning the carpet below. But if you can’t swing those, even generic rubberized floor mats will work wonders to protect your car’s fabric floors. It’s truly a case where anything is better than nothing.

Add a ceramic coating or ceramic wax to protect your car’s finish

Protect your car from winter roads like the ice-covered highway shown here.
Cars on a Minnesota highway in winter | David Joles/Star Tribune via Getty Images

We’ve talked about salt on the inside, now let’s talk about salt on the outside of your car. We all know how corrosive it can be, and even a brand-new car is susceptible to clear coat damage or even rust after just one salt-encrusted winter. But you can help reduce the risk and protect your car finish with a ceramic coating.

These coatings are professionally installed and act as a sacrificial layer above your car’s clear coat. In addition, they are hydrophobic, so they’ll repel water, even salty water, to help keep your car cleaner. It’s not a perfect solution – you’ll still have to visit the car wash every so often – but a ceramic coating will protect your clear coat and reduce the risk of lasting salt damage.

An undercoating can keep your car’s frame intact

Rust underneath your car is perhaps the biggest risk of winter driving. The same salt that burns your carpet and eats at your paint is also doing a number on the underside of your vehicle. Protect your car with an undercoating and drive with greater peace of mind. Products like Fluid Film will coat the metal components that make up your car’s frame, suspension, subframe, and mounts. This is a simple, yet effective barrier against harsh road salt, and will keep the rust and corrosion at bay for up to 15,000 miles of winter driving.

Install an underbody skid plate

2023 Nissan Frontier front skid plate
2023 Nissan Frontier | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Most newer cars include some form of underbody protection, added to improve aerodynamic efficiency. But these shields also work to keep salt from reaching the upper areas of your engine bay. This helps avoid corroded wiring, rotting rubber hoses, and damage to upper engine mounts. In addition, an underbody skid plate will protect your oil pan and transmission from damage due to hidden rocks and ice chunks on a winter road.

Weekly car washes are a must to protect your car in winter

Car wash can help protect your car in winter
Workers apply soap to a Cadillac | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Related These are the Essential Items You Need For a Winter Road Trip

These are the Essential Items You Need For a Winter Road Trip

If you’ve followed the first three steps, this isn’t so critical. But if you don’t want to pay for a ceramic coating and undercoating, keeping your car clean can reduce the long term effects of winter driving. It might add up quickly, but weekly car washes are a better investment than repairing frame and rust damage every few years. A weekly car wash will help blast away the salt residue on both the outside and inside of your vehicle.

Don’t let winter ruin your car, follow these 5 tips to protect your car all winter

Ice, snow, and of course, salt, are menaces to our cars. Keep your car protected this winter with these five steps so you can enjoy it for years to come.