The Paint A Part Blog

The Effect of Winter Weather On Your Paintjob

What damage can be caused to your car in the cold winter months? Bitter cold can cause brittleness for plastics, clear coats, and paint. Chemical road treatments can cause premature rusting along with paint damage. What can be done to prevent this, and what is an inexpensive source for pre-painted replacement auto body parts?

The good news is that Paint A Part is an ideal source for replacement bumpers, replacement fenders, and replacement hoods. We cover a wide variety of vehicles and our fully painted replacement parts are a convenient and inexpensive way to return your vehicle to its former appearance.

Let’s take a look at some ways to mitigate the effects of winter weather on your vehicle.

 camaro with peeling paint due to winter weather

Why Cold Weather Is Hard On Cars

Before we get into how to prevent or reduce damage to your car in the winter, let’s look at exactly why winter weather is harmful and how.

Extreme cold temperatures are especially hard on old or sloppy paint jobs, but they can also cause damage to new paint. In both cases, you might see small bubbles or a warp on the surface of the paint. Of course, the other issue with cold winter weather is salted roads. If you live in a place where extreme winter weather happens every year, this might mean months of traveling on such roads. Salt is particularly awful on your car. Combined with cold and moisture, it can wreak havoc on the underside of your car as well as the paint job.

Toyota Camry Covered in Snow  

Another issue you might not even think about is condensation. If you park your car in a warm garage, the transfer from freezing temperatures to warm temperatures can cause a layer of condensation to form. If you drive a poorly insulated older vehicle, this layer of condensation can even form inside as the heat from the engine moves throughout the vehicle.

Extreme cold can also cause plastic parts on your vehicle to become brittle and crack. This is especially true if your vehicle is older.

To mitigate both salt and cold temperatures, it’s important to wash your car regularly and keep any protective coatings in good condition.

Tips For Mitigating Winter Weather Damage

Winter weather may be hard on your car, but you don’t need to let it cause expensive damage. There are a few ways to reduce or prevent damage from cold temperatures and salt.

Wax Your Car

Waxing your car probably seems pretty unappealing in cold temperatures, but a coat of polymer wax can do wonders in protecting your paint job from ice, sleet, snow, and the mud and grime that forms on the road between rainy and snowy weather. It's best to wax before the worst weather hits.

Wash Your Car

Many people skip the car wash in the winter as they think that it will just get dirty again, but car washes aren’t only for keeping your car shiny in summer weather. There’s a very good reason to wash your dirty car in the winter and then wash it again. Rock salt clings to your paint as you drive over salted roads. If it’s not removed, it begins to eat away at your paint. It can also start corroding the bare metal of your underbody. When you go to a car wash in the winter, try to find one that does an underbody wash as well.

Wax Your Car, Again

Don’t just relax after you’ve applied polymer wax before the winter season. Regular and liberal application of spray wax throughout the winter months will help keep your car protected above and beyond the initial wax job.

Choose Your Brushes Carefully

It is definitely important to knock off snow and mud from your vehicle after you park it. However, it’s also very important to be careful about what tool you use to do this. If you use a brush with abrasive bristles, you can accidentally cause damage to your paint job. Foam brushes are a better choice than bristle brushes.

Spring Cleaning After Winter

Besides just taking steps during the winter to save your paint job, it’s also important to invest in a full spring cleaning after winter. This should include the following steps:

  1. A thorough wash to remove all grime and dirt
  2. Using a clay bar to get the rest of the grime off
  3. Applying a compound and another coat of wax
  4. Spot treat body paint damage or rust on the underside

Along with spring cleaning, you should also prepare your car for winter with a similar routine. In addition to protecting your paint, you should apply a rust-resistant coating to your underbody if you have an older vehicle where the factory one has worn off.

Bonus Tip: Protecting Your Car If You Don’t Have a Garage

Driving in winter weather is hard enough on your vehicle, but what happens if you don’t even have a garage to store it in? If it’s feasible to set up a car shelter or use a car cover, then that can easily take the place of a garage. It won’t let your vehicle avoid freezing temperatures, but it can help protect against snow, freezing rain, and hail.

As previously mentioned, you should always give your car a thorough wash and protective wax before winter weather hits, but this is even more important if your car is stored outside.

A bonus tip for those who own Jeep Wranglers is to use a hood cover for one that’s stored outside. The hood is the biggest painted part on a Wrangler that is fully exposed to snow and rain. It’s also the most likely area to sustain paint damage over time. Instead of trying to cover the whole vehicle, use a simple hood cover to keep the worst of winter away.

Toyota Corolla, Honda Odyssey, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape covered in snow 
If winter weather does get the best of your vehicle, Paint A Part has you covered with a large selection of pre-painted car parts, including painted replacement bumpers, fenders, hoods, and more. All parts are guaranteed to match or exceed factory specifications for a perfect fit.