SUV driving down snowy Road

How Often Do I Need To Wash My Car In Winter?

Living in Maine during the winter was no easy task, for so many reasons. One of which was the abuse that winter inflicted on my cars. And one of the most egregious assaults was on the cleanliness of my vehicles. Dirt, salt, and calcium chloride out a nice white layer of metal-eating film on my car every year.

So how often should you clean your car in the cold and how do you do it in freezing temperatures?

From personal experience, I would try to wash my car every three weeks. This would depend on the temperature outside, the conditions of the road, and what the weather forecast was going to be. Knowing when to wash my car became something of a science, but three weeks was a good goal.

Soon, your formerly meticulous, shiny vehicle will be caked with a mixture of dirt, salt, and ice.

Is It Bad To Wash Your Car In Winter?

The short answer to this important question is no. It is not bad to wash your car in the winter; in fact, keeping your car clean during the snowy season is essential.

It is no small task to wash your car in the winter, especially if it is well below freezing outside. And it is also possible to wash your car in a detrimental way.

If you wash your car outside in freezing temperatures, water could seep into the crevices of the car doors, the hood, the trunk, coat the windows and freeze the windshield wipers. If you wash your car in the cold, you will go through the same troubles that freezing rain can cause.

 This will make it anywhere from difficult to virtually impossible to get your car doors open or scrape ice from the windows.

If you are in a situation which requires you to wash your car outside, try to do this when the temperature is as warm as possible. You can combat any freezing issue by driving your car around first to warm it up.

Next, apply a lubricant to locks, hinges, keyholes, and other areas that are essential to accessing your vehicle. After this, you will be able to give your car a quick wipe down with soap and water even in frigid temperatures..

Why Is It Important To Wash Your Car In The Winter?

Having a spic and span car is excellent from an aesthetic standpoint. A clean vehicle will always leave a good first impression on anyone who glimpses it.

Even if you do not care about a moderate amount of dirt, looks are not the only reason to clean your car regularly. A clean car will last much longer than a neglected vehicle would.

All winter long, your car will be exposed to water, ice, slush, snow, salt, and dirt. Salt and moisture can cause a lot of damage to your vehicle over time if it is rarely cleaned.

Hand washing car

To combat this issue, you should clean your car regularly and apply a protective wax coating to shield it from damage.

From a safety standpoint, it is best to wash your windows frequently. The snow and dirt that collects on the windshield will impair your vision while driving and is even worse during a storm.

Glaring sunlight is another safety risk that is worse in the winter than the summer. When the sun is low in the sky and reflecting off of the white snow, you will not be able to see well if there are smudges or smears of dirt on your windows and mirrors.

What Temperature Is It Okay To Wash Your Car?

The ideal temperature that you can wash your car in is above freezing. However, this is not always possible in every situation. You may run into a time where you have to clean your car outdoors in the winter.

It is best to wait until the temperature outside reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or about zero degrees Celsius. The colder it is outside, the more likely it is that water will freeze on your car if you try to clean it.

If possible, it is best to wash your car inside the garage or at a car wash.

Does Washing Your Car In Winter Prevent Rust?

In the wintertime, salt is everywhere. It is on the sidewalks, the streets, the highway, and probably your driveway too. This means that it will inevitable get all over your car while you are driving. Every time another vehicle passes you, snow, dirt, and ice will spray onto your own vehicle.

Salt has a severely detrimental effect on metal. It will slowly but surely rust your vehicle and cause it to deteriorate. With a combination of melting ice, snow, and slush, you will find yourself on the market for a new car much sooner than you intended.

Fortunately, you can combat these effects by washing your car regularly. It is best to take your care to a professional car wash so that you can clean it thoroughly, efficiently, and dry it off before you drive back out into the cold.

If you would rather clean your vehicle at home, you can wash it by hand in your garage with soap and water.

How Often Should You Wash The Salt Off Your Car?

It is vital to make sure that salt does not sit too long on the exterior of your vehicle in the winter. To ensure that your vehicle does not start to rust, it is a good idea to wash it at least once every two weeks.

Car Wash in snow

If you rarely drive in the winter and keep your car in the garage, you may only have to wash it after taking it out a few times.

If you drive daily or almost every day, you will want to clean your vehicle more often. Buildups of salt and grit collect rapidly on the underside and sides of your car in the winter. If you have some extra time, you may want to wash your car up to once a week. 

Winter can be a tough time to maintain your car. Unfortunately, the effects of salt, ice, and grime make it necessary to take extra care of your vehicle in the winter.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to clean and care for your vehicle safely throughout the cold. In the long run, it will be much less financially painful to wash your car regularly than to be forced to get a new one due to damage from moisture and salt.

Final Thoughts…

Winter time can be beautiful, but it is also a pain sometimes. Taking care of your car’s exterior is not easy but it is essential. As mentioned the easiest thing to do is take it through an automatic car was every few weeks.

This will clean the under carriage and get the surface dirt, salt, and slush off your car. Don’t go crazy, it’s going to pile on again probably before you get home. Stay safe, stay clean and until then

Safe travels…

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