Prevent Winter Damage To Your Car

The snow, ice, and salt this winter in Pittsburgh have been horrible. Your car can still survive.  Here are some great winter tips on how to clean your car off without damaging the surface.  You can learn more at Angie's List.

When snow falls in large amounts, the task of unburying your vehicle can be daunting. It is important to remove the snow properly to avoid unnecessary damage to your vehicle’s surfaces.

People try a variety of techniques to deal with these problems, but sometimes they do more damage than good. We have compiled a list of winter “Do’s and Don’ts” when dealing with ice, snow, and salt on your vehicle.


  • Don’t use a shovel to remove the snow from your vehicle. Even if you are careful, it is very easy to get the shovel too close to the surface of your vehicle. Both metal and plastic shovels have hard edges, designed to scrape along the ground to remove the lowest layers of snow and ice. These edges will leave deep scratches and gouges on the surface of your vehicle.
  • Do use a method and product designed for automotive snow removal. There are products on the market such as the SnoBrum, which has a foam head to do this task. The foam is specifically designed to push snow off of your vehicle without scratching or scuffing the finish. Even your arm is better than a shovel.


Ice is another wintertime problem. It does not accumulate to the same depths as snow, but just a small amount of ice can be just as problematic as a large amount of snow. Ice can also be more damaging to your vehicle and harder to remove.

  • Don’t use an ice scraper on any surface other than the windows. The hard plastic is designed to scrape ice off your windows and is too aggressive to be used on your paint.
  • Some people use hot water to attempt to melt the ice off the car. While this may appear to work, there are two problematic side effects; the sudden change of temperature from freezing to extremely hot could cause the glass to crack and shatter. Additionally, if the temperature is still below freezing, the water falling on the ground will re-freeze, leaving an ice rink where your parking space or driveway used to be.
  • Do remove large chunks of ice by lifting them off with your hands. When ice is pushed off the car, the bottom of the sheet will slide along the surface, leaving fine scratches the entire length of the ice sheet.

Turning your vehicle on and letting it warm up before you drive is an effective way to slowly melt the ice off without running the risk of damaging the finish.


Snow and ice are not the only wintertime hazards that are capable of damaging your vehicle’s finish. The salt that is applied to the roads to help deal with the weather inevitably ends up on your vehicle. Salt will turn even black cars a dirty white. How you deal with this is important.

  • Don’t attempt to wipe the salt off of your vehicle without properly washing it first. Salt is very abrasive and when rubbed into the finish, it will leave behind significant scratching and marring. Salt can also corrode any exposed metal, so it is essential that it be removed as quickly as possible to prevent any premature rusting.
  • Do use proper methods and techniques when washing your salt-covered vehicle. If you are washing your vehicle yourself, be sure to rinse the vehicle thoroughly before you begin washing. You want to remove as much of the salt as possible to prevent it from being rubbed into the surface during the washing process. If you take your vehicle somewhere else to be cleaned, be sure to make note of their processes as well.
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