Car Care Tips

Protecting Your Investment …Rain or Shine

We assume that acid rain, rock–salted streets and other problem–causing elements are peculiar to the eastern part of the nation, and that relatively little maintenance of the finish of our cars and SUVs is needed. But when bad weather comes, it can bring with it airborne contaminants including corrosive particles carried by raindrops or snowfall. Also damaging are sand, gravel, and the anti–icing/deicing agents and other deposits that soak into road asphalt and get flushed to the surface by rain.The answer: keep your vehicle garaged if possible, and wash it regularly.

And keep these seasonal tips in mind:


  • Sand and gravel flung up from street sanding can chip glass and scratch paint. Chips near windshield edges are hard to see, and especially prone to cracking with temperature changes, since stresses are highest near the seals. These small chips should be repaired as soon as possible. To improve your odds, keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
  • Take care removing snow and ice from your vehicle’s finish, and use scrapers for window exteriors only. They can scratch paint surfaces, window tint and rear view mirrors.
  • Clamp-on ski racks can cause scratches and dents to roofs if not properly installed.
  • Broken tire chains can seriously damage fenders and wheel wells. Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully when installing, drive at reduced speeds, and avoid driving on dry roads with chains on. If a chain breaks, remove it immediately.
  • Christmas trees tied to roofs and trunks can cause scratches, scuffs and dents. After getting your tree home, promptly remove ties, string or rope from your vehicle.


  • Rock chips can keep popping up until roads are completely swept. At the end of snow season, cover small chips with touchup, to prevent water from getting under the paint and causing more damage. Have chips in glass repaired, and replace cracked windshields.
  • Hedges along driveways and roads grow out in spring, posing a threat to vehicle finishes. Avoid driving next to them if possible, and trim them back where you can.
  • Remove old parking passes and other stickers, remembering not to use razor blades to get adhesive off of paint. Commercial solvents can also be damaging. Use bug and tar removers specifically designed for automobiles.
  • The sooner the stuff dropped by growing trees is removed, the easier it is to get off, and the less damage it will do. Tree pitch (the clear, sticky globs that fall onto paint and glass) won’t yield to normal washing. Use your manufacturer’s recommended bug and tar remover. If the pitch is fresh, it should come right off. If not, time and patience will be needed. Never use scouring pads or razor blades on your vehicle’s finish.


  • Summer is construction season. Fresh tar and oil are everywhere. Avoid driving on new asphalt if possible. If some gets on your car, try to get it off while it’s fresh, using cleaners recommended in your manual. Road striping paint is especially tough, and a professional detail shop may be needed to remove it. Avoid lane changes across fresh lines if you can.
  • Overspray from outdoor painting projects is a common hazard. Avoid parking downwind from areas where paint is being sprayed.
  • Small white spots on sun-heated finishes are often caused by sprinkler spray. As the water dries, it leaves mineral deposits that can adhere to your paint and glass. Avoid parking near sprinklers, and direct the ones in your yard away from your car. In most cases, the spots can be rubbed out with paint cleaning compound. Consult a detail shop for more information.
  • Bugs collect quickly on your vehicle when driving at highway speeds. The longer you wait to remove squished bugs, the harder they are to remove. Once bugs are baked-on by a few days of sun, they can be really difficult to remove. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve just washed your car with us and some bugs still remain, let us know and we’ll be happy to rewash it for you (and they’re usually a bit softer the second time through!).


  • Leaves and pine needles can clog rain drains, causing water to back up and seep into the passenger compartment. Clean these drains regularly.
  • Bird droppings are acidic, and should be cleaned from the finish immediately, before they can damage paint. Because many species of birds ingest sand as an aid to digestion, their droppings can be abrasive, so take care when removing them.

All Year Long:

  • Bear in mind that automotive trim is often held on with plastic clips that break, metal clips that rust, and glue or double-sided tape that loses adhesiveness over time. And don’t forget that while you’re likely to notice any damage to the driver’s side of your car as soon as you get in or out, you need to check the passenger side now and then as well.
  • Wash gas stains from around the fuel filler door as quickly as possible.

But “Don’t Stop There!”

The steps you can take to preserve your car’s finish (and resale value) aren’t limited to choosing the best way to wash it. When shopping or at the movies, “park defensively”.

First, seek spaces next to new and/or well–kept vehicles whose owners are likely to respect their next–door neighbors. Compact cars, having shorter doors than full–size sedans, leave more space for parking between them with adequate clearance on either side. Center your car between the lines as best you can, to give folks next to you room to open their doors without banging yours. Don’t park at the unprotected end of a row. Poor visibility at parking lot intersections leads to many accidents. And avoid parking near poles, so you won’t back or turn into one you forgot was there.

Keep clear of spots near cart–return racks. Don’t forget that merely brushing against a dirty car can mark the finish, so never rest grocery bags on your hood or roof, lean against your car, or jostle keys against the metal while unlocking doors or trunk.

On the street, try to steer clear of trees (especially in spring and fall). If kids are playing ball nearby, look elsewhere, or risk returning to find dimples, marks or dents.