Many people don’t wash their cars in the winter. “Why should Iif it it will get dirty again in a few days?” you may ask yourself. “Hey, even car washes themselves shut down if it gets too cold!” All these things may seem to make sense, but washing your car in the winter is the most important time, but not for the reason you may think.
Washing your car in the winter is super important for one reason: salt. When you wash your car in the winter, you aren’t doing it for cosmetics, you’re doing it to eliminate salt. We don’t get a lot of snow here in the Carolina piedmont, but we do get a lot of black ice. Black ice forms when water (or snow) on the roads freezes over and has minimal to no air bubbles making it “invisible.” Towns and cities tend to salt their roads when there’s a severe chance of black ice, which is common during December and January.
Salt will kill your car, and I don’t mean the resale value, though salt will kill that too. I mean salt in the wrong places will render your car unsafe forever. Frame rust for a car is almost always terminal, especially on “unibody” vehicles that no longer have separate frames and bodies (which is probably what you own unless you own a pickup or large SUV.) Vehicles that get frame rust are unsafe to drive at that point. Frame rusted vehicles do not handle even minor accidents well. They crumble in accidents – check out some crash tests with rusty cars on YouTube if you get the chance, you’ll see what I mean. The only place frame rusted cars go is the scrapyard. You can’t replace frames, at least not without spending almost as much money as the vehicle is worth, parts and labor included.
But you can avoid this fate for your vehicle by washing it!
You don’t have to get fancy when washing your car in the winter. You just need to make sure the underbody gets washed, because that is where salt makes first contact with your frame, among other things. You don’t need to wash it every day, but if snow has fallen or the roads were recently salted, you should have the vehicle washed shortly after the salt on the roads has washed away. Garage keeping a vehicle also helps, but isn’t required.
Washing a car can be a pain in the winter, especially if you’re doing it yourself, but go ahead and make the time to get it done this winter. Your safety could depend on it.