"Why even bother?" I hear, as the snow falls in the daytime, freezes to your hood overnight, and sits there abetted by the outside Montana temperatures well below freezing. Why bother washing your car at all? Aren't you going to waste money, or water, or time?

You can look at it any way you want, since it's your car after all. I'm not in charge of how you take care of your stuff. I also don't know whether you drive a pre-owned sedan, an 80's pickup truck, a Tesla that might one day turn on you after submitting to the whims of Skynet, the world's most hideous rust bucket, or even drive at all. However there's something we need to talk about in the winter: your paint job.

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We spoke with Action Auto Body in Missoula about what you can do to keep your auto paint in shape over our Montana winter. Here are some tips.

Keep De-icer Off Your Paint & Undercarriage

Credit: Benny Edwin
Credit: Benny Edwin
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The can specifies use "For Windows & Wipers" for a reason...

Action Auto Body recommends using de-icer like this one on windows only, not on any part of your auto body. De-icer can not only leave streaks on your paint, but if you leave it on there for too long without washing it off it can have adverse reactions.

Credit: Jae Young Ju / Getty Images
Credit: Jae Young Ju / Getty Images
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This is confirmed by the American Automobile Association, which states that anti-icing agents used to treat roadways can cause rust on various parts of vehicle undercarriages, including metals and chrome.

Don't Use Your Ice Scraper On Your Auto Body

The hard plastic on the end of your windshield scraper can scratch and damage your paint. Some damage can be fixed with store-bought compounds like clay, but why would you want to spend that money if you don't have to? It's recommended that you use a brush to remove snow from painted surfaces.

Regular Car Washes

The best way to keep your auto paint looking good in the winter (well, year-round, actually) is with regular car washes. Car washes can remove not only road grime but any salt that your car has picked up from driving on treated neighborhood streets.

Credit: Benny Edwin
Credit: Benny Edwin
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That's a lot of accumulation.

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In addition to washes, you can apply a store-bought wax or sealant after a car wash to provide a "buffer" between the elements and your car. Applying it yourself works best, but a spray wax from a car wash works too.

Credit: Meguiar's Direct
Credit: Meguiar's Direct
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