There’s just something about the summertime that turns washing your car from a chore to a treat.
It might be all the vitamin C that you're soaking in from the sunlight. Maybe it’s the way that the cool water helps to counterbalance the heat. It could even be the way that the light helps your paint shine a little brighter.
On the other hand, washing your car in the winter can be a real hassle. It’s very cold outside, the skies are overcast and gray, and your car is probably covered in ice to boot.
Given a choice between the two options, just about everyone would prefer washing in the summertime. The problem is that the winter months can be very harsh on your car.
Even though it might be a real hassle, you still need to wash your car during the winter.
How Often Should You Wash Your Car?
Car experts recommend that you wash your car once every two weeks. A well-maintained car washing routine can make your car look better, protect your paint for longer, and improve your fuel efficiency.
While these are some great reasons to wash your car, they aren’t exactly essential. During the summer months, you can probably get away with washing your car once a month instead of every other weekend.
On the other hand, you should probably wash your car once a week during the winter. This is especially true if you live in an area that experiences frequent and heavy snowfall.
Why Should You Wash Your Car in Winter?
The main reason for washing your car in the winter is to prevent road salts and deicer chemicals from building up. Since the 1930s, state and local governments have been covering their roads with sodium chloride.
More commonly known as salt, sodium chloride causes a chemical reaction that lowers the freezing point of water and quickly melts snow and ice. Tires will experience better contact with the pavement which will increase their traction and reduce the risk of sliding.
While this service makes it easier to drive in the winter and has prevented millions of accidents, it’s really bad for your car. Repeated exposure to road salt and other deicer chemicals can lead to corrosion in your chassis and engine. Your undercarriage is especially susceptible to rust and corrosion.
The same chemicals that melt ice can damage and strip your paint, exposing the bare metal to the elements. Metal can quickly rust when it’s introduced to water, causing it to become weak, brittle, and flakey.
If you don’t prevent rust from spreading, you could wind up with holes in your chassis or your braking system being damaged.
How Do You Wash Your Car in Winter?
There are no fundamental differences to washing your car during the winter. While the basics remain the same, you will need to take a few things into consideration.
These are a few tips that can help you wash your car more easily and more effectively in the winter months:
Keep an Eye on the Temperature
The freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 degrees Celsius if you follow the metric system.
In general, it’s not a good idea to cover your car in water during freezing temperatures. The hinges, handles, latches, and locks on your door can get damaged. It’s even possible that your windows can freeze shut or crack.
Ideally, you shouldn’t wash your car unless the temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit (about 5 degrees Celsius). This will ensure that you won’t accidentally damage your car.
If you live in an area where it doesn’t top 40 degrees for a while, you’ll have to get creative. Starting your car and driving it around for a little while will warm it up a little and help prevent freezing.
You can also spray some lubricant onto any moving parts that might get damaged. This will help prevent them from accumulating moisture and freezing.
Spend Extra Time With the Hose
Any time that you are washing your car, you’ll need to spend a lot of time with your hose. During the winter, you’ll especially need to focus on rinsing your car.
Even if you wash your car once a week, it will still accumulate a ton of road salt, dirt, and grime. You will need to rinse off as much of these contaminants as you can before you start washing.
You should especially take extra steps to rinse off your undercarriage. It can be difficult to reach underneath your car, but you can use your jack to lift it up a little bit. Cleaning off the road salt from your undercarriage can prevent damage to your braking system.
Make Sure You Have a Strong Car Soap
Washing your car without using any soap is the same as taking a shower without soap or shampoo. It’s better than nothing, but it’s not really an effective way to get clean.
There are some people that use simple dish soap to wash their car. Dish soap can be a good way to clean your glasses and plates, but you should never use it on your car. The formula is too abrasive and can severely damage your paint.
Instead, you should use a concentrated soap to thoroughly clean your car without causing any damage in the process. Shine Armor’s Ultra Concentrated Car Wash Soap is specifically formulated to help remove even the most stubborn buildups of dirt, grime, and gunk.
Road salt and other deicer chemicals will have no chance of sticking around if you use this powerful detergent. Using low-quality soap or only water is a risky move and could wind up damaging your car.
Wash Your Car Inside a Garage
Parking your car in a garage can help to protect it from exposure to the elements. It can especially be beneficial when you need to wash it during the winter. You won’t need to be as worried about the outside temperature because you’ll be in a warmer climate.
It’s also much safer for you as washing your car in your driveway will leave a lot of water on the pavement. When this standing water freezes, you’ll now be at risk of slipping, sliding, and falling.
Some people suggest putting down salt on your driveway to prevent the water from freezing. While this can be effective, you’ve just surrounded your car with the thing that you’re trying to clean off of it.
Consider an Automatic Car Wash
You need to be careful using a tunnel car washing service. While they are much more convenient than washing by hand, they are much more likely to result in scratches to your paint.
That being said, it might be a good idea to use one every now and again during the winter. They can help to get hard-to-reach areas like your undercarriage and apply a layer or wax more easily.
Since these services use high-pressure hoses, it’s possible that they can push dangerous road salts even deeper into your car. It’s probably a good idea to rinse your car off with a hose before you run it through a car wash tunnel.
Look Chill, Stay Warm
Every car owner should have an established routine for washing their car. It’s very important to continue washing your car in the winter even though it might be a major inconvenience.
Following the tips listed above can help make it easier to wash your car. While you're going through the process of washing your car, it’s a good opportunity to add another layer of paint protection.
The Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat spray can help to clean, seal, and protect your pain. Just one application can effectively perform the job of three different products. You’ll still need to wash your car often, but the odds of corrosion will be much lower.