QotW: How do you scratch your car itch in the dead of winter?

It’s been a tough winter for much of the country and with weather reports predicting another snowstorm in the northeast, it doesn’t seem like it’s letting up any time soon. That means icy highways, weather too frigid to spend any amount of time in the garage with, and dreaded road salt for much of the nation. It can be hard to satisfy your automotive jones for these gloomy months.

How do you scratch your car itch in the dead of winter?

The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “How do you get bad smells out of your car?“.

First off, I want to thank everyone for offering their suggestions. I’m going to try several of them and report back on the journey. My main goal for this is to have the car smelling like my beloved AE86 again. I don’t want to just mask the smoke smell, or replace it with something else.

So with that in mind, the first thing I’m going to do is try baking soda, as Taylor C. and Brian 85 proposed. It’s the cheapest option and what have I got to lose? Another natural absorber of funk is charcoal, as suggested by Redbull. If those don’t work I may try John C‘s recommendation of Simoniz Odor-Out a try. Hey, if they sponsored John Morton’s Datsun 510 that should count for something, right?

The most promising product that I’ve never heard of before is called Ozium, as suggested by Keith P and Hachibrokeyou, which claims to also kill airborne bacteria. It comes in a scent called “New Car Smell” but I’ll use the original since I’d rather have an AE86 smell than generic new car.

If none of those work, I’ll go with Chet Manley‘s preferred stench killer, a Sharper Image air ionizer. After that, it’s nlpnt‘s dryer sheets, though I’m a bit wary of having the car smell like Bounce, which I find to be overpowering.

It was also helpful to learn what hasn’t worked. Dan‘s experience with Ozone left a smell like a hotel room that’s tried to mask the funk of cigarettes. Land Ark says bomb-style air fresheners have only had a temporary effect, and gel-types simply mask it with a too-strong fruity smell.

If all else fails I guess there’s always Jim Klein‘s solution, start smoking cigars. Personally I prefer bbracer‘s though I don’t think my wife would like it too much.

The winner this week was Hachibrokeyou, because the answer gave me at least some hope that I can one day revive my AE86’s original scent. Thank you for the recommendation!

When my ’98 Rav4 was stolen several years ago, it was also recovered with a new, very potent smoke smell. Aside from a lot of vacuuming, the thing I mainly used was the little ozium gel canisters that fit in the cupholders. It took a really long time, but eventually it regained some of that familiar old Japanese car smell.

Side note- the one and only thing that made me chuckle about the whole situation, was that when I got the car back, in the trunk area the thieves had left behind a broom and a pair of jeans (not mine). So at least I can say I got something out of the whole ordeal haha. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re in this situation. Even though the car is back, its never quite the same.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

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20 Responses to QotW: How do you scratch your car itch in the dead of winter?

  1. Nigel says:

    Parking lot and hand brake turn practice (hoonage).

  2. BlitzPig says:

    Slap on the Blizzaks and carry on.

  3. Ian G. says:

    I drive it. I’m in FL.

  4. Sean Morris says:

    Live in Southern California

  5. Vic says:

    I live in south central Pennsylvania. Until today, received no snow. Grass and roofs are covered. Begging for more snow! Need several blizzards! :o) Have a ’72 Celica and don’t drive in the winter anyway. Bought it new and def did when I was younger. Car is 50 now. I’ll just pull up the cover, look outside at the weather and give the car another coating of wax. Clearer weather is only weeks away. :o). Be optimistic.

  6. Taylor C. says:

    Having moved from temperate Northern California to true four-season New England, there’s definitely a bit of adjusting when the summer cars go into storage for the winter. My year-round car recently changed from a TDI Jetta Sportwagen 6MT to a Mazda 6 with a manual transmission, so that keeps the fun (and zoom zoom) going through the cold months.

    As Nigel and BlitzPig mentioned, winter presents a whole new challenge in terms of driving. It’s been a relatively warm winter so far, so most of the snow melts by the next day. But some good winter tires, a slightly different driving line, along with feathering that gas pedal better, snow driving is really a whole new experience. I had a set of Altimax Artics on the TDI and it got through everything; Range Rovers, X5s, and Mercedes SUVs with their summer tires didn’t stand a chance against me.

    As far as scratching a deeper itch, like working on a project car, make sure there’s an indoor garage spot to accommodate that, as working out on the driveway when it’s in the low 30s quickly gets numbing. One can also stock up on car parts so that when Spring hits, you’ll be ready to wrench away.

    Finally, when you really miss driving those stored cars, be like me and put on a jacket, go into the garage and just stare at cars. Heck, get in the driver’s seat and soak it in for a few extra minutes. That’ll get me through the season.

  7. Fred Langille says:

    Model car building and movies … also, detailed planning on what next to do on the family fleet in the spring.

  8. Alan says:

    I live in Southern California! I can drive any day of the year… once I’ve bribed the shady “smog” guy, evaded the mobile CARB checkpoints, exercised my FIF! when pulled over and asked about modifications, driven two hours in gridlock to reach the good driving roads 40 mile east, and paid $7 a gallon for good gas, I am in driving nirvana.

  9. Jim Klein says:

    Just yesterday I spent the day on frozen Georgetown Lake in Colorado with my about to be licensed son in Grandma’s old Outback with half-worn snowflake-rated tires practicing slides, recovering, turning, drifting, braking, spinning like a top on sheet ice with a little snow on parts of it, and also just trying to stay upright when outside of the car… A couple of days of that over a winter season makes even an underpowered Outback tremendous fun to drive and helps when the unexpected may occur on the actual road.

  10. Ben E says:

    You drive a 1995 Corolla.

  11. Curtis says:

    Don’t need to because I live in sunny Long Beach, California.

  12. Lakdasa says:

    Scratch? what scratch, they are all battle scars!!

  13. Jonathan P. says:

    Find a slippery parking lot when nobody is in earshot, and do slippery parking lot things. With extreme caution, of course.

  14. Jacob D says:

    Its pretty easy to get a 09 Tundra side ways when the roads are all snow and ice.

    Also, to scratch the motorsports itch me and my wife have taken up indoor karting here in town. They just opened, started doing league stuff (cornhole, axe throwing, etc.), so we gave the karting league a shot. Turns out she is wicked fast, especially for someone who has little to no interest in cars except through me (and even then I just act like I know what I’m doing). Its been a blast.

    The unfortunate thing though, it’s most likely opened up a whole new hobby I’ll spend way too much money on.

  15. f31roger says:

    We don’t get that harshness of ice storms in NorCal, but we did have a ton of water come pouring down. While not a big deal… I did enjoy my previa in during the atmospheric rivers. It is fun because it is RWD, but not as cool if it were MT.

    During the massive downpour (I soaped up the previa and let nature wash it), I was inside vacuuming and had this moment of solitude.

    I was sitting in a rotated capt chair (middle row) and had the rear sunroof (which is massive) cover moved back and I just enjoyed the rain dropping on the rear sunroof.

    That slowdown was something I haven’t had in awhile.

    Originally grew up in the PNW, I miss some of the weather at times.

  16. Jim Daniels says:

    Well as f31roger stated the north end of CA has seen a bit of moisture. Then when you add elevation that rain turns to snow and for every inch of rain that is one foot of snow and then warm storms bring rain that melts the snow. So the Z stays in the garage on a trickle charger and gets started once in a while. However, three weeks ago I helped a friend find a Tundra 4×4 to purchase as a daily for mountain living and hay and horse hauling. The following week on Thursday night it snowed so Friday the sun was out. I took my Tundra skiing so I could work on Saturday to change all of the drive line fluids in my friends newly acquired Tundra. The temp was a balmy 25 degrees in the sun Saturday. I know it does not sound like CA but the beautiful end of the state has mountains and it gets cold. So I was draining gear oil in the rear differential, transfer case, front differential. Talk about molasses in January. The transmission fluid actually flowed quite fine in the 25 degree temps. Working on cars in the cold is possible you just have to be prepared and a refrigerator size piece of card board or two really help keep the cold from radiating from the ground into ones body.

  17. speedie says:

    Lots of automotive YouTube videos and staring out the window like a sad puppy at the leave less trees and snow.

  18. Tom Westmacott says:

    Between the dark, the fog, the rain and the cold, not to mention snow and ice, winter can be tedious. The solution is videogames for me. I remember one long winter playing Tokyo Highway Battle on the PS2, the one they finally fixed the handling. Also Gran Turismo, of course. You don’t just get to drive, but to collect cars, modify, tune and paint them, all of which can easily absorb hours.

  19. Steve says:

    Winter is the best time for driving in public on public roads. If you only knew what we did as young adults to learn car control and how to drive. Thousands of miles of learning and practice whenever it snowed.

    This year, for fun we head next week back up north to Michigan to get the 323GTX and head out for some fun driving. I have two GTX’s, one summer one dedicated for winter. I have spent the last 40 days here in Florida, where the roads are all straight, flat and oh so boring. Driving is a chore. As will the 22 hour drive be back home Sunday where the GTX sits waiting to be driven in the good conditions. I will “slip away the old debris, that hides a shiny car…a brilliant black Mazda, from a better, vanished time”. Ahhh yes, Red Barchetta, probably the best car song ever, and sure invokes thoughts of Rallying and the good old days. I will have to put the cassette in the player and head up to Sno Drift where we spend a weekend supporting the first rally of the new season, locking the center diff, treating the gearbox with care, and driving great roads. Last year was pure ice and frozen dirt banks to keep you alert on day one, and 6 inches of fresh powder on day two. Awesome. With little wear and tear on the car as the elements act as a buffer. This year, who knows but it will be an awesome driving experience!

    When it is all over, we will “drive back to the barn, and (drink) with my (friends) by the fireside” at the cottage, with stories and tales to share with others. Then the car gets driven back to the house downstate, gets a complete underbody flush up on jackstands (no matter the weather) and put away in the garage next to the summer car, before heading back down to flat, boring Florida.

    Fully worth the nearly 2800 miles of driving!

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