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How To Wash Your Car In The Winter

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Many motorists will neglect to wash their vehicles in the winter. While it is a costly mistake to make for the health and longevity of your automobile, it is understandable why some may be hesitant to shell out the money and time to wash their car regularly in the winter, only to have that new shine tainted by a tidal wave of slush.

If the snow, salt, sand, and other winter gunk are pummeling your vehicle every time you hit the road, what is the point of it all? Well, the build-up of said gunk can be harmful to your car’s exterior – especially salt, which is corrosive and can lead to rust on and beneath your vehicle.

But how do you effectively clean your car in the winter to prevent exterior paint damage and maintain that summer shine? We have compiled a list of our 5 top tips for washing your car in the winter:

1. Turn Up the Heat in Your Car, But Keep That Water Warm

Over the past week, temperatures have slumped well below the zero mark. Your automobile, even in the garage, has endured the bitter cold. Do you expect your freezing vehicle to suddenly welcome a hot wash? No.

Before you start washing your car, it is imperative that you warm it up first. Let your minivan, sedan, or roadster sit there for a bit after turning on, then let the warm water – not hot (see below!) – begin to flow across the exterior.

Unfortunately, hot water and glass do not mix, and hot water can in fact wash off any protective wax or coating that you have on your exterior, leaving it vulnerable to corrosion and abrasiveness. Instead use warm water, which will help dissolve salt and dirt build-up. Try to only wash your car on days when the temperature is above zero, to ensure that your wash will dry (and not freeze).

2. Rinse Away the Winter Gunk

One of the first steps you take is to rinse the salt, sand, mud, and all the other winter gunk off your car. From the top of your car to the wheels, wash down every inch of the exterior with a high-pressure hose, if available. If you’re washing at home, you can try adding baking soda to a tub of warm water which will help dissolve dried surface salt, paying attention to the undercarriage and other hard-to-reach areas.

You can also add a car shampoo to your wash, applying with a soft sponge or wash mitt.

3. Remember Your Wipers

Without a clean and working set of wipers, you could find yourself squinting through a mucky windshield in the middle of a snowstorm, which is both frustrating and incredibly dangerous. Try the following as part of your winter-wash routine:

  • Get inside your vehicle and close the door.
  • Turn on your washer fluid and let your wipers move for about 30 seconds.

This is an important part of washing your car in the winter because the fluid soaks into the wiper blade assembly and prevents ice formation on the blades and wiper arm hinges. This tactic also removes fresh water that could freeze your washer nozzles.

4. Apply a Sealant for Winter Protection

A wax or sealant can go a long way towards helping to protect your car’s exterior from the wrath of Old Man Winter, who is intent on pounding your vehicle with ice, snow, sleet, and rain. Use a spray-on wax, or gently apply a hard wax with a microfiber cloth, one thin layer at a time.

For a longer-lasting shine and protection, consider having a sealant or ceramic coating professionally applied to your car’s exterior, which can not only protect your paint from salt and ice, but can also allow your headlights to shine brighter since they’re better able to fend off salt build-up. This can be helpful when driving in blizzard conditions in which your visibility is impaired. 

5. Visit or Not to Visit Car Washes

Can’t handle the cold long enough to endure a DIY wash? Thankfully, there are other convenient options at your disposal! Drive your car down to one of the three locations to help with regular maintenance of your car exterior during the winter months:

  • Rinse-less car wash
  • Coin wash
  • Touchless car wash

While you’ll pay a little more for the convenience, consider automatic car washes to be a well-deserved spa treat for your hard-working vehicle! But there is one piece of advice: try to avoid brush car washes. Here’s why:

  • The brushes from an automated or self-serve car wash will scratch your vehicle.
  • A lot of the winter gunk that is cleaned off gets trapped in the bristles and fibers.
  • If done too many times, you will need to get a paint correction.

Your car needs you more than ever during the winter. Remember, your sweet ride provides you with a lot of fun, joy, and excitement when you are driving on an open road on a warm summer’s day. You should reciprocate with some basic TLC when winter arrives. For more car care tips to help your car look its best all winter long, reach out to your local car detailing professionals at Ceramic Pro.

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