Complete Seasonal Car Maintenance Checklist

COMPLETE SEASONAL CAR MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST

In this article you will learn:



  • How to maintain and protect your car each season

  • The differences between winter and summertime maintenance

  • The best products and tools to keep your car looking new year-round

As the seasons change, so do the maintenance needs of your car. While you may deep clean your car in the spring to get rid of all those soils and rock salts, the summer calls for a fresh layer of wax or coating to protect your paintwork from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s important to know which areas of your car to clean, restore and protect each season to prevent staining, oxidation and permanent damage to your vehicle, both inside and out.

We’ve compiled a list of steps you should take every winter, spring, summer and fall to help your vehicle stay in tip-top shape. Just follow this complete checklist to keep your car looking beautiful all year long!

Spring

As the snow and ice begin to thaw, Spring is the perfect time to restore your vehicle after the cold, winter months and to prep it for the warmer weather ahead.

Clean, clean and clean some more

If you live in an area with particularly cold winters, you’ll need to perform a thorough deep cleaning to remove any soils and salts that have become embedded in your kick plates, carpet and floor mats to prevent permanent staining and corrosion. If you live in a snowy climate, your vehicle will most likely be coated in a thin layer of road salts by the season's end, so you’ll need to hit all those areas you don’t normally clean, including the wheel wells, rockers, seals, door jams and even the underside of your car. Although these areas aren’t always visible, keeping them clean will help to maintain and improve the function of your car.

Wash your car with a heavy-duty car wash soap like Turtle Wax M.A.X. Power Detergent to get rid of all those stubborn soils. We recommend towel drying your vehicle to prevent streaks and water spots in your spotless finish. You should also have your interior vacuumed at your local car wash or detail shop, or vacuum it yourself with a portable vacuum cleaner. Use a carpet and upholstery shampoo like POWER OUT! Carpet & Mats to remove any tough stains from your floor mats and carpet.

turtle wax m.a.x. power detergent

Scrub out the engine bay

Another car wash tip for the spring is to pop the hood of your car and scrub all the intricate surfaces of your engine compartment. This is another area where soils and rock salts collect through your grills and vents, posing a serious oxidation risk. Clean these areas thoroughly, hand drying with a fresh, microfiber towel.

Bring out the carpeted floor mats

Many drivers keep two sets of floor mats: carpeted mats for the spring and summer and more durable, rubber mats for the fall and winter. Once you’ve cleaned all the dirt and salts from your rubber floor mats, switch them out for your carpeted mats to start the spring out on the right foot! Be sure to store your rubber floor mats in your trunk or garage so you can pull them out again in the fall.

Deodorize your interior

Now that you’ll be using your A/C unit again as summer approaches, you’ll want to use an odor elimination spray to get rid any musty odors that may have collected over the winter. After you clean, spray your interior surfaces with 1-2 mists of Odor X Fresh Car Spray, or use a powerful diffuser like Odor X Whole Car Blast to seek and destroy lingering odors molecules inside your car for a fresh smelling interior.

deodorize your interior

Summer

Between road trips, vacation getaways and cruising on the highway, summer is a prime time to show off your car to the world! This is the season to protect and shine your exterior paint finish to achieve a glossy, showroom look that lasts and lasts.

Polish your paintwork

Polishing your car erases any scratches, swirls or surface imperfections that may have taken place during the spring or winter. To polish your car, just prep your paint surfaces with a clay bar after a weekend car wash and add an adjustable compound like Hybrid Solutions PRO 1 & Done to a light cutting pad. You can polish your paintwork by hand or use a dual-action polisher to smooth any light scratches or swirls in the clear coat to create a smooth, flawless finish.

polish your paintwork

Protect and enhance your finish

The surface of your car takes a beating in the summer from all sorts of harsh, environmental factors, including acid rain, flying debris and powerful UV rays. You’ll need a durable, long-lasting wax or paint sealant to protect your paintwork from scratches, fading and oxidation.

We recommend a hybrid car wax like Hybrid Solutions PRO to the Max Wax, infused with genuine graphene and carnauba wax to give you the most powerful protection, and the most incredible, high gloss shine! Hybrid wax coatings can last for up to 12 months with the occasional touch-up, so this one will keep your car protected throughout the fall and winter.

Don’t forget to protect your interior!

The outside of your car isn’t the only area being hit by the sun! Your dashboard, car seats and upholstery can become cracked and faded if you don’t protect and condition your leather and plastic interior.

Use an interior detailer like Hybrid Solutions Streak Free Mist to spray and wipe down your dashboard and trim and leave behind a layer of UV inhibitors to protect these surfaces from the sun. If you have leather car seats and upholstery, we recommend using a leather cleaner and conditioner like Hybrid Solutions Leather Care at least once a month to keep your leather interior plush and protected.

hybrid solutions streak free mist

Fall

Autumn is a great time to prepare for the upcoming winter before it becomes too cold to wash, wax or polish your car.

Touch up your finish

Most waxes and polishes are only designed to be used in 60 to 80-degree weather. Early in the fall, you’ll want to give your wax or ceramic coating a quick touch up with a spray wax to rejuvenate that mirror-like shine and strengthen your vehicle’s layer of protection for the harsh winter ahead. We recommend Hybrid Solutions PRO Flex Wax to give your finish an extra boost with the same durability and shine you’d receive from a pro liquid wax.

Be sure to focus on your rocker panels and the lower panels of your car exterior that you’d like to protect from soils and rock salts during the winter.

Clean and protect your auto glass

The winter is also a low-visibility season, so it’s important to clean and protect your auto glass after all the heat and oxidation from the warm, summer months. Use a car glass spray like Turtle Wax Dash & Glass and a couple of microfiber towels to spray and wipe your windows, windshield, mirrors and tech screens. Be sure to spray a generous amount of product to prevent streaks and smudging to your auto glass.

Switch to your rubber floor mats

Now that the winter is coming up, it’s time to switch back to your more durable rubber floor mats. These mats are designed to withstand icy weather conditions and the heavier soils you track into your car with the wet snow and ice. Be sure to store your carpeted floor mats in your trunk or garage for safe keeping.

Winter

As the weather dips into the 30s and below, it’s time to wait out the winter months and focus on keeping the interior clean and fresh.

Vacuum your carpet and car seats

You should vacuum your carpet, mats and upholstery in the winter at least once a month to remove dirt and soil buildup. This will prevent permanent staining or discoloration to your carpet and fabric upholstery. Be sure to use the upholstery attachment on your portable vacuum cleaner to reach deep in the nooks and crannies of your seats and cushions.

Remove stains with a carpet and upholstery shampoo

If you or one of the kids spills food, coffee or a hot cocoa drink, or you can’t get the tough soils out of your carpet, use a stain remover like POWER OUT! Carpet & Mats to preserve the factory fresh look of your carpet and upholstery. Blot the area with a couple of terry cloths. Once you finish spot cleaning, be sure to blend your product into the rest of your carpet and upholstery for a nice, even finish.

remove stains with a carpet and upholstery shampoo

Keep your car smelling fresh

Give your car a few mists of our Odor X Spray to keep the interior smelling fresh and clean all winter long! Our Odor X products come in Fresh Car Scent to capture that “new car” smell, or Caribbean Crush for a more fruity, floral fragrance.

With this complete seasonal checklist, you can be confident that your car will endure every season and maintain its like-new condition year after year! If you need further help or instructions on how to complete any of these tasks, be sure to check out the rest of our How-To articles for more detailing tips, tricks and step-by-step guides!

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