With the coming of the colder months and the first signs of freezing temperatures, going out to the driveway with a bucket and a hose to wash the car might not seem like an ideal use of time. Plus, once the weather gets colder and snowier, the car will just get covered with dirty snow and salt again next time you take it out. It might seem unnecessary to some, but washing your car in the winter is actually very important in preventing rust and damage.

Rust can develop almost anywhere on a car where snow, moisture, and road salt accumulate, including in areas that you may not think to look. It can then eat away at pieces of your car, and over time, can cause severe damage.

Winterizing Your Car

The very beginning of the winter is the perfect time to prepare your car for the coming cold, ice, snow, and salt. Taking just an hour or two to protect your car from the elements now could save lots of time and money on repairs later.

  1. First, give your car a thorough cleaning. Make sure to scrub down all the vulnerable areas, including the parts of the undercarriage that you can reach. Especially be sure to clean the wheel wells, the panels above the wheels, and the front grille--these areas are especially prone to collecting road salt and rust.
  2. Next, add a coat of wax. The wax coating is important in creating a barrier between the car and the muck on the road.
  3. Switch out your wiper fluid with de-icing fluid to prevent it from freezing in the reservoir or on the windshield.

Keep On Washing

When the city has started to treat the roads in your area and snow has started to fall, it's time to start washing your car regularly. Some mechanics suggest you wash it as often as every other week, or as often as you can. Drive-through car washes are typically good at cleaning your car from top to bottom, including any accumulated salt and ice on the undercarriage.

If you're washing your car at home, make sure washing undercarriage to use warm water and soap specifically made for cars. Avoid using dish soap, since it will strip off the protective wax coating you applied when you winterized your car. Power washers are ideal in this situation, since they can dislodge salt and slush from almost anywhere. Spray all of the nooks and crannies you can reach.

Of course, it's important to avoid washing your car when the temperature is too low, since the water will immediately freeze. Ideally, if there are enough warmer days (at least upper 30's), try to choose those times to wash your car. If you need to wash the car on a colder day, get it warm from the inside out first by driving it for a few minutes before giving it a bath.

Protecting Your Vehicle

Make sure you and your vehicle are ready for the elements this winter by winterizing your car and washing it regularly throughout the coming months. All in the Wrist Auto can help with all your car maintenance and winterizing needs, from switching out wiper fluid, to pointing out potential rust areas to watch, to replacing parts that have been damaged by winter driving in the past.

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