The quickest, easiest, and safest way to remove a large amount of snow from your vehicle is with a leaf blower. This works best when the snow is light and fluffy but a 600+ CFM blower will be able to handle heavier snow as well. Not touching the paint is less likely to scratch it.
We go to great lengths during the summer months to polish and protect our paint to perfection. Once the days turn cold, dark, and gloomy, it can be hard to have that same passion though.
Brushing the snow off your car in the morning before going to work can be a real inconvenience. Some of us get lazy with it and forget about the consequences of touching our paint.
Add to that the fact that our vehicles are often covered in dirt and road salt and it’s easy to block our shiny paint out of our minds. Spring is coming though, and you might be in for a real surprise when you see the toll the winter season has taken on your vehicle.
How to remove snow without damaging your paint
The absolute best scenario is to park indoors during the winter – that way you can avoid all of this stuff entirely. If that isn’t possible, here are a few ways to safely remove snow from your vehicle:
1. Allow the snow to melt off your car
Giving the snow and ice a chance to melt rather than removing it is the safest thing for your paint. If you don’t have a garage at home, a public parking garage will work.
This isn’t a very realistic option for most people though unless you’re planning to visit a business that happens to have indoor parking.
2. Blow the snow off your car with a leaf blower
The same leaf blower I use to dry vehicles after washing them is the one I use to remove snow. It can be extremely effective at cleaning the snow off your paint without causing any scratches or harm.
It basically mimics what the wind will do on the highway, except you won’t be blinding the motorists behind you in this case.
This is by far the safest way to remove the snow from your vehicle because you don’t have to physically touch it. The only thing rubbing against your paint is the snow itself which still isn’t ideal, but it’s the lesser of all the other evils.
There are downsides to using a leaf blower though. First, you might want to avoid waking all of your neighbors up first thing in the morning with a loud machine.
You’ll also look pretty strange standing in the snow while pointing a leaf blower at your car. Perhaps the biggest downside to blowing the snow off your car is that it doesn’t always work on heavier packing snow.
If you’re dealing with light, powder snow, this is going to be your best option. You should be able to remove nearly all of the snow from your car without even touching it once. And as you know, touching your paint is what scratches it.
3. Use a snow broom or brush carefully
Again, your choice of tool isn’t important. Even if you have a stiff bristled brush like mine, you can wrap the bristles with a soft microfiber towel using elastic bands to hold it on. The key to using any type of brush to remove snow is this – never let the brush touch your paint.
You want to hold the brush at least 1/4″ off the surface. This way you’ll remove the bulk of the snow (the dangerous part) and leave a thin layer behind. This is why your tool of choice doesn’t matter. If you’re using it properly, it should never actually touch your car. Only the snow on top.
4. Clearing your windows with a snow brush
Automotive glass is much harder to scratch than paint. Because of this, there is no reason to be driving around with snow and ice on your windows. You can use ice scrapers and any brush you want on your windows without having to worry about causing damage.
Here’s a tip when using an ice scraper – leave a border of ice around the outer edges of the window. This won’t block your vision at all and it’ll protect your rubber moldings and plastic trim from being damaged by the scraper.
Do I have to clean snow off my car?
Cleaning the snow off your car is important, especially if you’ll be traveling at highway speeds. Leaving snow and ice on your car can cause chunks to fly off and damage other vehicles, possibly even smashing a windshield or causing an accident. It also reduces visibility for other drivers.
Having chunks of snow and ice fly off your vehicle on the highway is very dangerous. It can even be deadly. Once the wind gets a hold of this stuff, it’s just like throwing a rock at the windshield of the person behind you. That’s bad news for everyone.
Local law enforcement here in Ontario is really cracking down on people that fail to remove the snow from their cars (especially their windows).
Too many pedestrians have been hurt. Too many windshields have been smashed. So Johnny Law is whipping out the ticket book in an attempt to get peoples’ attention.
I’m the first one to sympathize with not wanting to take the risk of scratching your paint. I’m sure many people think I’m a psycho because of the steps I take to maintain the finish on my vehicles (they’re probably right).
As crazy as I am, I don’t believe that having a scratch-free car is more important than a person’s life or their safety. So I try to keep larger amounts of snow off my vehicle while doing my best to protect the condition of my paint.
Does a snow brush scratch your car?
Using a snow brush can absolutely scratch your paint. The design, material, or cost of the brush doesn’t matter. Any time we wipe something across our paint, there is a big risk of scratching it. This risk grows exponentially depending on how dirty the paint is under the snow.
Most of the time there will be at least a thin layer of dirt, road salt, or sand underneath. That same dirt is going to be ground into your paint as soon as you drag a brush across it.
Using one of those stiff-bristled snow brushes directly on your paint is as bad or worse than using the soapy brush at a coin-op car wash.
A soft foam broom like this one can be helpful with removing snow from your paint but only when used properly. The tool you use really doesn’t matter. Even the fancy ones will scratch your car if you rub your paint directly with them.
Protecting your vehicle in the winter
Applying a quality wax or polymer paint sealant right before winter is always a great idea. It will keep the surface of your paint slick which means it’ll take less effort to make the snow slide off.
Despite what other articles found online might claim, waxes and sealants will NOT protect your paint from scratches caused by your snow brush. Ceramic coatings might offer very minor scratch resistance, but even still, you need to be very careful with how you treat them.
How to get snow brush scratches off your car
If you’ve found this article after you already used a snow brush on your paint, there’s good and bad news. The bad news is that your paint is probably scratched (yes, even after only doing it once). The good news is, it can probably be fixed.
Scratches from your snow brush can often be removed by having a paint correction done. This involves compounding and polishing it with a machine. It will take a lot of time and it can cost a lot of money, but you’ll be able to see a huge improvement in your paint.
You can read all about paint correction and whether it’s worth it for you in this article:
Tim is the creator of Canadian Gearhead. His experience with auto detailing and working for Toyota shows through all of the articles posted here. He runs the Canadian Gearhead site and YouTube channel full-time now and currently owns a 2007 4runner, 2006 Tacoma, and 1991 MR2. Read more about Tim: