Tips to Protect Your Car from Pollen Damage

pollen-damage

Here in the Baltimore and DC Metropolitan areas, we are all too familiar with pollen. With spring underway, it’s a safe assumption that many of you have already begun feeling the effects of pollen—allergies being the most common sign.

Another sign that pollen is all around us is that we can see it on our cars. And while our cars don’t suffer allergies, did you know pollen can actually damage your car’s exterior?

How Can Pollen Damage My Car?

pollen-closeup

If you look at pollen under a microscope, you will see it isn’t a smooth object; it has spores that act as little “hooks”—hooks that can latch onto our hair, our clothes, and—you guessed it—onto our cars.

Pollen can also be highly acidic and that acidity can eat away at the paint on your car.

What Not to Do

It might seem like an easy answer would be to simply wipe the pollen off your car with a non-abrasive cloth. The problem is that while the cloth may not scratch your car, those microscopic hooks can.

Secondly, a water bath won’t fully do the trick either. As we stated earlier, pollen is acidic and when it comes in contact with water, the water can activate the acidic qualities of the pollen. This acidity will begin to ruin the paint job on your car and may eventually even lead to rust in some areas!

How to Protect Your Car

What a headache a little yellow dust can cause! But don’t worry—there are some very manageable and easy things car owners can do to offset the lousy effects of pollen.

1. Use warm, soapy water and give your car a proper wash. Check out these dos and don’ts of home car washes from Consumer Reports.

2. After your car is dry, apply wax. This will add a protective layer making it harder for pollen to “latch” onto your car. We recommend using the following products.

3. Park in a garage. While no area is completely pollen-proof, parking in a business garage or in your home garage means less exposure of your car to pollen in general.

4. Buy a car cover. Maybe you thought car covers were just for those individuals who pamper their cars as much as their own children. While that may be the case for some car enthusiasts, car covers also add a protective guard against the elements of Mother Nature, such as that pesky pollen.

5. Don’t park near/under trees. We know as the temperatures warm, it’s going to be very tempting to park in the shade, and we don’t blame you. That seems like pretty sound logic. However, parking under or near trees is a danger zone for your car if you’re trying to avoid pollen exposure as much as possible in the coming months.

Bonus tips—Protect Yourself!

6. Check your cabin air filter! You can have this replaced during service at your dealership or do it yourself—just check your owner’s manual for details. A clean cabin air filter means less pollen getting on the inside of your car.

7. Keep your windows up whenever possible, even when parked, to lessen pollen infiltration in your car’s interior and fabrics.

8. When using the air conditioner, use the recirculate setting. This will mean less pollen-filled outside air coming inside your vehicle.

Pollen is like the evil twin of fairy dust—it brings us down! It irritates our allergies, leaves our cars coated with that horrible neon yellow sheen, and when left untreated, can wreak havoc on our automobiles. No—there’s no happy thoughts when it comes to pollen! Hopefully we’ve given you some very simple, actionable tips that you can put to use to protect your car from pollen damage. And remember, if you’re not so great at maintaining your car, make sure you schedule service or have your car professionally detailed.

Do you have other car-saving tips when it comes to pollen? Let’s hear them! Share them below or share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading, and always protect your car!

Product Review: Turtle Wax® Automobile Waxes

car wax

For the second in our series of car-care product reviews, we’re hitting the exterior today and taking a look at automobile wax – specifically, those made by Turtle Wax®. Founded in Chicago in 1941, Turtle Wax® is the largest automotive appearance products company in the world, distributing its products to more than 90 countries worldwide.

Over the course of its more-than-70-year history, Turtle Wax has expanded its product line to include wash formulas, interior protectants, wheel and tire treatments, scratch remover, compounds, chrome and metal polish, headline restoration formula and bug & tar removers. For this post, we’re going to focus on its first product – from which they took their name – their line of automobile waxes.

Turtle Wax® Super Hard Shell Wax – This is Turtle Wax’s top-of-the-line protectant wax. It is available in both a liquid wax and a paste. Super Hard Shell adds a water-resistant coating that protects vehicle exteriors for the build-up of grime, while providing a high- gloss finished that lasts for up to 3 months with the liquid and 6 months with the paste. Both are relatively easy to apply and work best on the clear-coat painted areas of the vehicle.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Super Hard Shell have to say about it:

“Turtle Wax® is in most every garage in America for a reason-it works and it’s cheap. One tub will go over three small or two large cars, shine will last all summer.” – Derek H.

“[Turtle Wax is] still the best. I’m one of those psychos who even polishes his John Deere tractor. Turtle Wax always does a great job protecting my car from grime and UV radiation. Forget the fancy designer waxes – this is the one to buy.” Hanz B.

Turtle Wax® Carnauba Cleaner Wax – For those car enthusiasts looking to sacrifice a little protection for the extra amount of shine, Turtle Wax’s Carnauba Cleaner Wax is exactly what you’re looking for. Available again in both liquid and paste form, Carnauba Cleaner Wax combines the power of the Turtle Wax cleaning formula with the shine of their wax to bring about the restored look of a vehicle right off the assembly line. The wax still provides UV protection and a water-resistant coating, but uses a carnauba-enriched formula to remove dead paint cells for the surface of vehicles. This product requires a little more time to apply and is slightly more difficult to buff off than the Super Hard Shell, but that is due to removal of the dead paint.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Carnauba Cleaner Wax have to say about it:

“I chose this product mainly because of its price. I haven’t used any other wax before, but this wax produced great results. It came as a jello-y paste and with a nifty applicator pad that absorbs the wax so it applies it evenly on the surface. This won’t take out swirls, scratches, or shine up the paint if it was neglected for years and years. However, if this was used in the final step of a detailing job, it will protect your finish from the elements.” – James M.

“The shine is great. It took some work to buff it off with a towel by hand, but it was totally worth it.” – Jesse N.

Turtle Wax® 1-Step Wax & Dry – This is the quickest and easiest-to-apply wax in the line-up. It provides a nice shine and good protection at a fraction of the time required of Super Hard Shell or Carnauba Cleaner. The shine and water resistance lasts about 1-2 months (due to it being a less viscous, spray liquid) and basically only requires you to spray it on and then wipe it down, one section of the vehicle at a time, while the car is wet.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used 1-Step Wax & Dry have to say about it:

“I use this as a spray detailer. I have tried many other detailers but they don’t really compare to this. What makes this better to me is that, as a detailer, it wipes off easily and leaves no streaks or swirls. It actually can remove swirls. I use it right after I run my car through the wash to remove any water spots left and to touch up missed spots. I also use it in between washes as a touch-up. It’s a good way to help protect the paint in between waxing.” – Carroll D.

“This is a solid product to use in between washings (if you wash frequently), or to use as a light coat of wax after washing while your car is still wet, either way works great.” – Andrew K.

In addition to the three products that we featured today, Turtle Wax® also offers several other types of waxes. For more information, check out Turtle Wax’s website under the “Wax” drop down menu. Be sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for more reviews of Turtle Wax’s line of products.

If you’ve ever used any of these waxes, let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!  We value your comments and thoughts!

*image courtesy of ReneS on Flickr.com

Spring Cleaning for Your Vehicle

spring cleaning for your car

Winter is the harshest time of the year for pretty much everything, but especially cars!  This is doubly true for vehicle owners who live within the snow belt. Corrosive road salt, loose stones, and road debris from snow plows, traction sand, and repeated freezing and thawing can wreak havoc on your car’s exterior, and leave your second largest investment looking like a jalopy. These severe aspects of winter driving can also put a strain on the moving parts of your car.

So, to help you get your vehicle ready for hitting the open road with the windows (and maybe even the top) down, we came up with 8 areas that should be checked once spring’s warmer weather hits.

  1. Check Your Alignment, Tire Pressure and Brakes – Potholes and other less-than-optimal driving conditions can throw your wheels out of alignment, putting more wear and tear on your tires. If your vehicle displays any signs of veering off to one side, you should have your alignment checked and readjusted as soon as possible.  In addition, check tire pressure against the recommended pressure for your vehicle and particular type of tire. The change in temperature can cause changes in air pressure within your tires. The change of seasons is a great time to check your brakes because they generally lose performance slowly over a long period of time, so we might not notice that they are not functioning properly until they get into the danger zone.
  2. Replace the Air Filter – Replacing a clogged air filter can increase a vehicle’s life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing strain on the engine, especially heading into the warmer months of spring. During the winter, snow-related debris and other impurities may build up in a vehicle’s air filtration system, and replacing the air filter can improve acceleration time by around 6-11%, according to fueleconomy.gov.
  3. Change the Oil and Top-off All Fluids – A typical driver generally changes the oil every 3 or 4 months, which corresponds perfectly with the change in seasons. However, during the winter months, cold weather puts extra strain on the engine as it must contend with more viscous motor oil. Once spring gets here, we advise an oil change to flush out the old oil and make sure all fluids are property topped-off – especially the coolant in the radiator. Proper fluid levels are critical for your vehicle’s best performance.
  4. Check Wiper Blades – Although people use their wiper blades often, their maintenance is something that is easily forgotten. Once winter is gone, you should check your current wiper blades for cracks, dry-rotting or excessive wear. If they look shabby, they’ll do a shabby job of clearing your windshield.  That’s definitely something you don’t want heading into spring (April Showers, anyone?). Don’t forget the rear wiper blade if you have one!  A good rule-of-thumb for the replacement of wiper blades is every six months to ensure the best possible clearing of your windshield.
  5. Check Your Battery – Winter weather can cause problems for your battery’s connections, so you will want to check posts and connections to make sure they are free from any dirt, grime, or corrosion. If the posts are dirty, remove the cables (negative cable first) and clean each of them thoroughly. If you don’t know how to properly clean them, check out this article. In addition, you should know your battery’s power level and the charge it is holding. If you don’t have the tools to do this, many auto parts stores will check your battery for free.
  6. Wash and Wax Your Car – Salt, sand, and debris from winter driving can damage your vehicle’s exterior, so wash it thoroughly as soon as temperatures rise and stay above freezing. Be sure to clean the underside of your vehicle, as well. That is where corrosive elements can do the most damage – even though you might never see it. Spring is also a good time to check your entire vehicle for rust, which can worsen during the winter months. So, in early April, give your car a good wax. Spring rains will roll right off and your vehicle will be much easier to clean the next time you decide to wash it.
  7. Touch-Up the Paint – You might have spent much of the last few months with your vehicle covered with snow, dirt or road grime, but salt, stones and even ice scrapers can cause damage that lies just below the surface grime. After you wash your vehicle, check for chips, scratches, or blemishes that need a paint touch-up. Buy a small amount of matching vehicle paint to do it yourself, or consult your local body shop.
  8. Detail the Interior – Your floor mats and carpets have probably seen better days after winter debris has been constantly tracked into your vehicle. If you have special all-weather floor mats, a simple hosing off will do wonders. If your floor mats are carpeted, vacuum them and clean any stains. With the floor mats out of the car, vacuum the interior carpets and around the various cracks and crevices of your vehicle’s floor. Use a vinyl/leather protector, like Armor-All, to brighten up dashes and trim that may have suffered during the cold weather.

Once you get your ride all spic and span, you’ll be ready to enjoy the warm weather while driving your well-maintained vehicle. Do you have any other Spring Cleaning Tips you’d like to share? Let us know down in the comments section below – we always love your feedback!

*image courtesy of hezoos on flickr.com