Spring cleaning: how to remove winter salt from your car


After an interminable winter, spring has sprung...finally. For many car buffs across the country, it's time for spring cleaning.

As part of its "Drive + Protect" series, AMMO Auto Care, Inc. has published an in-depth look at how to detail your car to rid it of every ounce of salt after the winter driving months. For those who don't live in snowy climates with salted roads, we envy you.

Host Larry Kosilla details the 10-step process. It's an intricate process and requires a lot of will and time.

It starts with cleaning out the car's interior and removing the floor mats. Now it's time for a thorough vacuuming, starting from the rear and moving forward. This includes the seats and requires special attention to the driver's area, which accumulates the most dirt and grime.

Next, it's time to wipe down the dashboard with a microfiber towel. The steering wheel gets the same treatment as it is a repository for a lot of germs and bacteria. Our host even uses an interior brush on the steering wheel, switches/buttons, and the "always gross" cupholders.

The pedals come next. Spritz them and wipe them down with the microfiber towel.

If your seats are stained, spray them with the cleaner of your choice (of course this video features AMMO products), wipe with a scrub pad, then blot with the microfiber towel. It's best to do this as the last step of the interior cleaning so you don't sit on wet seats and stain them further with your jeans. 

Moving on to the exterior, clean your tools from last year first, then fill your bucket with a mixture of water and cleaner.

Start under the hood, where you should remove sticks and brush by hand first. Then, cover any sensitive engine components like the alternator and lightly rinse the engine. Use your wheel brush and wheel soap to clean the engine and dirty crevices, then rinse.

Remember, this isn't your average detail. To really rid the car of salt, remove the tires and wheels to wash out the wheel wells and scrub the suspension components. While the car is jacked up, it's also a perfect time to powerwash the undercarriage to clean out any debris, and of course, salt remnants. This might require a brush, and our very thorough host says this is secretly the most satisfying part of any detail. We think he's a little weird, but in a good way.

Now it's on to the rims. Apply the cleaner front and rear, then clean the front first as the back is dirtier and it needs more time to soak. Scrub them front and rear and inspect the tires as you do.

Now, pre-rinse the car, then soak the paint with a foam cleaner, here mixed with Ammo Boost. Soak the undercarriage with the same mixture. Fill your bucket with the mixture as well, rinse the car, then wash the car with a mitt or microfiber towel. Rinse, and you should be done. Of course, our nutty host isn't done, and he goes on to clay the car to remove sap.

Dry the car with a microfiber towel.

At this point, you might think you'd be done, and most of us would be. Our friendly detailer, however, isn't. He goes on to apply several more products that help inhibit oxidation, lubricate hinges, brighten plastic, and freshen the rubber seals. He also applies AMMO Reflex (in two layers) and AMMO Skin to protect the paint, and gives the already clean windows a deep cleaning.

Our host calls this a 10-step process. Seems more like 50.

Ready to get cleaning? Watch the video above and keep the tips in your back pocket.

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