Buying a Car This Winter? How to Prevent Seasonal Damage


When you picture driving your dream car off of the lot, you may imagine that your vehicle will continue to look, smell, and feel brand new for at least the first few months of ownership. If you buy your car while there's snow and slush on the roads, however, your car may begin to look worn and even sustain damage quickly.

In this blog, we walk you through tactics that can protect your car from seasonal damage both inside and out.


During the winter, more than at any other time of year, your car interior may have to withstand moisture, mud, and other debris being tracked in. Certain substances, like road salt, can be particularly harsh on your flooring and upholstery.

To keep the inside of your car clean and intact, use the following tips:

  • Install seat covers. Moisture can make your seats uncomfortable to sit on and musty smelling. Protect your upholstery from snow that melts off of you and your passengers' clothes by installing seat covers. To further protect your upholstery from moisture, look for waterproof covers.
  • Invest in seasonal floor mats. Your new car's floor mats may look beautiful, but regular carpeted floor mats can only withstand a certain amount of grime. Consider swapping your floor mats out for rubber ones until spring.
  • Keep your interior dry. As mentioned above, moisture can threaten the comfort and beauty of your interior. When you notice a wet area, prioritize drying it out. You can hang wet floor mats to air dry in your home, but you may need to park your car someplace warm and give your seats time to dry out as well.
  • Use a sunshade. One of the seasonal hazards that you may not think about immediately is bright winter sunlight. Snow reflects the sun and may intensify the damage that sunlight does to your interior. When you park outdoors, be sure to put up your sunshade to prevent fading and potential cracking.
  • Vacuum regularly. Drying out your car may not get rid of all the debris that's found its way inside. To keep your interior clean, vacuum your floors and seats regularly throughout the winter. You can use the handheld attachment of your household vacuum or travel to your nearest carwash for access to a heavier vacuum.

You may also want to limit the amount of food and drink allowed in your car, especially if you or your passengers are fond of seasonal hot beverages and sticky treats. Spills can create unpleasant odors and encourage any dirt that gets tracked in to stick around.


Snow, ice, salt, and dirt can quickly wear away at your paint job. Road salt, in particular, speeds up the oxidation process and may make your brand new car vulnerable to rust and other forms of corrosion.

As you drive on winter roads, take these steps:

  • Apply a high-quality wax. Car wax allows the mess of winter precipitation and road salt to slide off your paint job rather than sticking on the body or undercarriage. Use a high-quality polymer wax and reapply as needed for best results.
  • Choose the right snow brush. You may need to remove snow from your hood, roof, and even doors during the winter. Don't rely on the scraper you use on your windshield, since it may scratch the paint. Use a brush intended for automotive exteriors instead.
  • Establish a car washing routine. It may seem pointless to wash your car when the snow will just turn it gray again in a few days, but as mentioned at the beginning of this section, road salt can oxidize your paint. Washing your car regularly throughout the winter minimizes the potential damage road salt can cause.
  • Use a de-icer as needed. If your doors or locks freeze, use a de-icer to open them. Other methods of removing ice can damage your doors, handles, or paint. Avoid using hot water or wedging an object into the door opening to try and separate a stuck door or lock.
  • Watch for any paint defects. As you wash and wax your car, keep any eye out for any chips in the paint. These areas are more vulnerable to corrosion, so you'll want to repair any paint damage right away.

In addition to protecting your paint, consider applying a glass finish to your windshield. This finish encourages ice to melt and moisture to roll off to maximize your visibility while driving.

If you have concerns about how your car's design, upholstery material, or other features may respond to cold and wet weather, talk to your dealership. Dealership representatives can provide you with recommendations to keep your car beautiful and functioning perfectly whatever the weather.

Whether you find your vehicle during the holiday season or just as winter begins to turn into spring, use these guidelines to protect its interior and exterior from the damage the season may bring.