Dangers Of Incorrectly Washing Your Car In The Winter
There are several dangers of trying to wash your car in winter when its below freezing: frozen water on the outside of your car, frozen doors, frozen locks, etc. To avoid these issues, the key is to use a car wash facility that hand towel dries your car and utilizes low pressure washing methods. Towel drying is important because it removes all of the water off of your vehicles exterior as well as removing the water from your door jambs, eliminating any chances of frozen doors or locks. High pressure is not recommended either due to the chance that a vehicle will get water forced into door locks and other components.
Use Hot Water To Wash Your Car
It goes without saying that hot water will counter the cold conditions that you are washing your car in. Using hot water will minimize the chances of water freezing on the exterior of your car. However, it is important to not use boiling water as it can potentially damage the quality of your cars paint.
It may also strip away the much-needed layer of wax on your cars surfaces. This is especially important to remember because you cannot properly apply wax when the temperatures are near freezing. If the wax is gone, you risk exposing your vehicle to harsh elements. Again, this can entail costly repairs in the near future.
Tip : Remove Salt Promptly
Especially if you live in an area that experiences winter weather quite often , you want to be adamant about removing road salt from the underbody of your vehicle. Salt can easily corrode metal on the underbody of a car, causing it to rust.
I prefer to use a handheld sprayer but a simple undercarriage car wash works as well depending on your preference. If you dont have a basic high-pressure sprayer for removing that winter grime and salt, check out this blog post I wrote to check out a few of the best budget electric pressure washers on the market.
These electric models I like because they are pretty quiet, lightweight, and perfect for spraying down a vehicle that is covered in road salt.
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Tip : Use A Garage Or Wash Bay If You Can
If you can, probably the best thing to do is to wash your vehicle in an enclosed area like a garage if you can. While you dont want to really use a pressure washer or sprayer if you dont have drains and proper ventilation, a garage will just make this job a lot warmer.
If you live in an apartment and dont have a garage, try finding a car wash bay at least to block the wind if you can. Anything to prevent suds and soap from drying in the wind is ideal.
What Kind Of Car Wash Is Best
You should be aware that its not just how often you wash your car that counts. The way you wash it helps, too. Using a handheld pressure wand, start at the top of the vehicle and work your way down. Pay special attention to the cars wheel wells and underside, as salt and grime tend to collect in the corners of the undercarriage. Rinse and dry as thoroughly as possible.
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Tip : Use A Wash And Wax Car Soap
Wash and wax car soap products I typically dont use in warmer months since I like to apply wax separately, but these products arent a bad idea in the winter due to the fact that they just add another layer of protection and are convenient to apply.
Waxing can be brutal, so using these wash-and-wax products can be more practical. You can either apply these with a wash mitt and bucket, or a foam gun .
Wax can also help to prevent rust since after water evaporates there still remains a layer of wax inside of cracks and door jams, which can be prone to rust when exposed to water alone.
Tip : Find A Mobile Detailer Or On
If you want a quick wash but just dont feel like bracing the cold winter weather, you may want to consider using an on-demand car wash app or service. With a tap on the button, you can order a car wash usually for around $40 $50 depending on the company, and is an option that I sometimes prefer in colder weather.
Keep in mind, some of these on-demand detailing companies dont offer an undercarriage wash, so you will still want to hose things off if nothing else. In the winter, its worth calling around to see what mobile detailers actually use water tanks and can clean your entire vehicle.
Wash Your Car Frequently
Once it starts to snow you should wash your car as often as possible. Maybe as often as every other week.
If you plan to wash your car at home, grab a few five gallon buckets and fill them with warm water. Use soap that is specifically made for cars, not dishwashing soap as so many people do. Dishwashing soap can strip off the wax you worked so hard to put on, and even more importantly, the clear protective coat that was sprayed on by the manufacturer.
Using warm water to rinse the car will not only keep your hands warm, it will melt away road grime.
Drive-in car wash bays with power nozzles are another option. The powerful spray will not only clean the top side of your car, it will allow you to wash underneath, knocking loose the big chunks of salt and slush that accumulate.
If you decide to use a power washer, spray water into as many nooks and crannies as you can find because salt and road crud hides everywhere.
You should avoid washing when the temperature is below freezing because the water will immediately freeze and youll be driving around in a popsicle. It will be especially hard to de-ice your windows if you wash your car when its below 32 degrees.
Instead, pick a day when the temperatures are moderate . Washing on a warm day guarantees that the power windows wont freeze, and your defrosters wont have to work double time to de-ice the windows.
Which Type Of Car Wash Is Best For Colder Temperatures
Full-service car washes are often recommended for the winter. These are typically done in a heated area and the service personnel will dry the vehicle off before it leaves. If you do decide to go through the regular car wash, use the soft touch. This option helps minimize freezing compared to the no-touch since that option will force the water into smaller crevices. Once the vehicle has been cleaned, use a towel to dry off the vehicle. You should also have your vehicle warmed for at least a half-hour before you have it cleaned.
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Early Mornings Are Usually The Best Time Of Day To Wash Your Car
Any time in the early mornings are usually a safe bet according to many detailers Ive spoken to over the years. It really comes down to the amount of sunlight and heat that you are experiencing. Late afternoons are a close second if you can squeeze it from 5:00pm to sundown.
There are are a couple of factors like temperature and precipitation to keep in mind as well.
Is It Ever Too Cold To Wash Your Car
Milwaukee winters are cold. The Wisconsin State Climatology Office of Milwaukee, WI indicates that on average, about 150 days out of the year, the Milwaukee air temperature reaches below freezing levels. With that said, how is it possible to wash your car in winter months when its clear that the water left on your vehicle will turn it into a popsicle? The answer is not as simple as you might think!
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Hitting The Carwash In Any Weather Is Good For Your Car
When the weather gets cold and wet, you may be inclined to slack-off on keeping your car clean. Why go to the trouble when its just going to get dirty again tomorrow, right? If youre a DIY car-washer, then getting out into the bad weather to get even wetter is an even bigger turn-off. If thats the case, then a commercial carwash is going to save you the headache. But did you know, its a good idea for the maintenance of your car to run it through the carwash during the winter? Its also just a good idea, period, to use a commercial carwash over washing your car in your driveway, no matter what the season.
Winter weather is corrosive to your vehicle
Your car is exposed to increased levels of water, sand particles and salt during the winter months. If you live in an area that salts the roads, either before or after snow or ice, then your vehicle is getting a nice layer of corrosive chemical build-up especially on the undercarriage.
Plus, all that wet weather is loosening gas, grease, tar and other chemicals on the roadbed. These chemicals are kicked up by your tires and sprayed onto your car while you travel.
Leaving these chemicals on metal and non-metal parts including your cars paint, and other more essential components like your breaks, break-pads, and suspension system can create pitting and begin the journey of rust.
Keep your cars undercarriage clean
What Parts Of Your Car Need The Most Cleaning During The Winter
If you deal with snow and ice frequently, youll understand the reality of deicing. Its completed by city, county or state roadside services or departments of transportation, where they spray a salt-based formula on roads. This helps to reduce the freezing temperature of water, snow, and ice.
But it also sprays all over your ride, starting on the bottom, and working its way up to body panels. This introduces the parts of your car that need the most cleaning during the winter.
The Undercarriage: Most modern cars are treated with an anti-corrosion spray at the factory. But it doesnt remove the need to keep your undercarriage clean during the winter months. Spraying it off with high-pressure water is good enough during the winter.
Rocker Panels: The lower rocker panels on your car can likewise be corroded with deicing products, sludge and road grime. The trick here is that it sticks to paint and clear coats more than undercarriage products, so youll have to use soap and water to remove.
Door Jams: The ice melt and road grime can also seep into door jams. This area is often forgotten by most car owners during a regular wash, but its crucial to keep them clean during winter.
Under the Hood: Road grime, winter sludge, ice, and snow will eventually melt especially when your cars engine heats up. This will cause the contaminants that accelerate corrosion to enter the engine bay. The main areas of focus are those that are flat and next to hood seams.
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Dont Wait Until Summer
Many people fear that washing their vehicle in the winter will create ice around the seals and lock the doors shut. Others just dont like the thought of standing in the cold to wash their vehicle. Whatever your worries about washing your car in the winter, picture the future rust bucket you might be driving if you dont. It pays to keep your vehicle clean in the winter, even if it means some slight discomfort.
Lubricate The Hinges Handles And Locks
If you weren’t aware, some components in your car use lubricants. It’s what helps them against rusting and general wear and tear.
Lubricants also help repel water. So, if you want to avoid freezing the hinges, handles, and locks, lubricate them. The two primary lubricants for these areas are white lithium grease and graphite lubricant.
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Tip : Use A Pressure Washer & Foam Cannon
One tip I always give people during the winter months is to use a pressure washer in their wash routine. When it comes to car cleaning, it is always best practice to remove as much dirt and grime from the surface of the car before coming in contact with the paintwork with a wash mitt
Due to the increased amount of grime/dirt/salt which is likely to be on your cars paintwork, it will also increase the chances of accidentally inflicting swirls & scratches in the paint. It is important to remove as much of this as possible before starting a contact wash. A pressure washer & foam Combo is the best way to achieve this.
I find that I am usually able to clean the car quicker by using a pressure washer, which means the less time I have to spend out in the cold.
Chemical Guys Snow Foam Car Wash Soap
A small amount of this car wash soap can go a long way. The Chemical Guys CWS_110_64 produces thick suds when used with foam cannons or with regular bucket wash. The pH is neutral and does not cause corrosion on the body of the car. Additionally, the honey-dew scent is excellent and mild enough for car owners that are sensitive to smell.
Did you get your car waxed? Not a problem. The Chemical Guys CWS_110_64 doesnt break down your wax, and it has water softeners that prevent hard water spots when the car dries. Finally, this car wash soap does a great job at removing bug guts.
Chemical Guys CWS_110
- Produces thick suds in foam cannon and bucket
- Great scent
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Washing Your Car In The Bitter Cold
EAU CLAIRE – The need for a car wash doesn’t fade with the season, but some may wonder, can you even get a car wash when it’s too cold?
Co-owner of Executive Car Wash Keith Caldwell says that when temperatures begin dropping into the single digits or below 0, even heated car washes tend to close temporarily.
Caldwell said that in winter, cars can accumulate salt from the roads that could damage your car and recommends washing your car once or twice a week to avoid the salt erosion.
But washing your car in bitter cold temperatures can cause some freezing around the vehicle. There is a fix though, if you have some common bathroom staples on hand.
“What we always suggest is our customers always bring an extra towel with them, and then as they get out of the driers, they can clean out the gaskets, door jams, and any of the trim around the doors themselves to allow them not to stick shut,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell concluded that the underflush at the beginning of an automatic car wash works great to remove icy debris and salt from your car.
He said a protective coating at the end of the wash can also make cleaning up your car easier for next time.
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Can I Wash My Car In 50
Now we know the risks of washing your car in freezing temperatures. Although, people’s definition of freezing varies. Some might think 50-degree temperature falls in that category.
So, it raises the question, can you wash your car in 50-degree weather? Yes, you can. It would fall into the ideal weather range for car washes. It’s nowhere near 32 degrees. Hence, there’s no risk of the water freezing.
If you’re sensitive to the cold, you’ll still want to wear gear that is appropriate for the weather. Otherwise, it’s safe to wash your car in 50-degree weather.
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Salt And Grit On The Roads
Anything made of metal doesnt react all that well with salt, and this is certainly the case with our cars. Modern vehicles are sealed and galvanized to minimize the possibility of rust, However, salt and grit have a habit of being able to work into cracks and crevices around a vehicles bodywork.
You need to make sure to comprehensively clean down your car, rinsing off harmful chemicals left on the road by gritters and other cars can extend the length of your vehicles paint and bodywork.
Use Rubber Mats Instead Of Fabric Mats
If you dont take precautions to keep excess water out, your car could sustain water damage. Try using rubber floor mats to keep your floors dry in place of fabric mats. Additionally, the rubber mats will not absorb water causing mildew and mold, and can easily be wiped clean. Place thick towels under the rubber mats to absorb any dirty water, slush, and dirt. To keep things clean, wash the towels every week. Slush on the car floor can create hidden corrosion and costly damage to repair.
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How Do I Wash My Car At Home In Winter
Try and wash your car on days when its over 40 degree F. That way, its unlikely that water will freeze on the car, making door locks and windows inoperable.
Richard Reina, product training director at CARiD.com, suggests lowering all car windows slightly after washing so you can wipe water from the edges of the glass so the windows wont freeze shut. If you have a long spell of sub-freezing temperatures forecast, however, its good to start your car and drive it around for a while and warm up everything before spraying down the car. Also, wash during daylight hours so the sun can help dry the surfaces.
Be sure to use plenty of clean water and spray off the loose dirt and salt, concentrating on the undercarriage of the car. This way you can get rid of the majority of the salt before trying to wipe it off. If youre comfortable jacking up your car to reach the undercarriage better, go ahead, but be sure to do so safely and always use jackstands.
Choose a high-quality car wash detergent.Never use dish soap, because it can shorten the life of your paint. Use the two-bucket method of washing one bucket for soapy water, and one for rinse water. After each swipe of a dirty car, rinse your filthy sponge or microfiber wash mitt in the rinse water to get all the grit and salt off before dunking it in the soapy water.