When Is It Too Cold to Wash Your Car


When Is It Too Cold to Wash Your Car
When Is It Too Cold to Wash Your Car
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Winter comes with shorter days, longer nights, and harsher weather conditions that could be harmful to your car. So, you need to take extra care of it to withstand these issues. While it may not seem obvious at first, washing plays a significant role in your car’s overall health, and even more so in winter, thanks in part to road salts that could corrode the vehicle’s surface.

However, the process of washing your car in the winter is more nuanced than it seems. Not all temperatures are ideal for the procedure, and below certain degrees, you might need to put off car washing entirely below certain degrees. This article will cover when it’s too cold to wash your car and suggest alternative methods you may take to ensure that your vehicle is properly protected from the elements.

How Cold Is Too Cold to Wash Your Car in Winter?

Washing your car in cold weather has its pros and cons. One pro is that you won’t have to worry about the water drying too fast and leaving spots. On the flip side, if it’s too cold, the water may freeze on your car and seal the doors, windows, and locks shut. The ideal washing time for winter will vary depending on the temperature where you live.

As a general rule, you should not wash your car at 32 °F (0 °C) or below, which is the freezing point of water. At this temperature, your paint job could suffer some damage and potentially prevent you from accessing the car as water goes between the panel gaps and freezes solid. Even 39.2 °F (4 °C) is still a bad idea due to the anomalous expansion of water, where it expands instead of contracting from 4 °C to 0 °C.

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Aim for temperatures of 40 °F or higher when washing to greatly minimize the risk of damaging your car. However, warmer temperatures, ideally above 50 °F (10 °C), are optimal for the undertaking. But since you have zero control over the weather, it can be almost impossible to get ideal conditions, depending on your location. A good solution is to hand-wash your car in a heated garage or on afternoons that are warm enough. But if you can’t manage any of those, you might want to visit a car wash or take a page out of their books. Here are some options to consider.

Best Car Wash Options for Winter 

There are a few different kinds of car washes that are well-known during the winter season, including:

Touchless Car Washes

These washes use high-powered water jets to blast away grime and dirt and are typically open year-round. The downside is that they can be harsh on your car’s paint, so selecting a wash that uses soft water is very important.

Soft Touch Washes

Soft touch washes use soft brushes to clean your car’s paints without causing any damage gently. Mostly they’re closed during the winter season, but some may provide winterized services that include a complete rinse with hot water.

Drive-Through Washes

Drive-through washes are a convenient option, but they can be hard on your car’s paints and cause scratches if the brushes are not properly maintained.

No-Touch Car Wash

No-touch car washes are the latest car washes on the market. They use a top-notch tech system of cameras and sensors to guide the washing process. These washes are gentle on your car’s paint and work in any weather.

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Waterless Car Wash

Waterless car washing uses a solution of soap and water to clean your car without rinsing. This wash doesn’t harm your car’s paint and can be used in any weather conditions.

Rinseless Car Wash

Rinseless car washing combines hand washes and waterless car washes and uses a solution of soap and water to clean your without rinsing. It is safe and works well in any weather.

Washing Your Car in Winter

One main reason why washing under cold, freezing condition is not ideal is that freezing water can cause pipes to burst. When the water reaches its freezing point, it expands, putting too much pressure on pipes and causing them to break. Further, freezing can damage the washer itself. This cold temperature can cause parts of the washer to crack, which can be pricey to repair. But to prevent salt corrosion, you need to wash your car. So, if you go the home washing route, here are some tips to consider:

Use Quality Car Wash Soap

A good car wash soap or shampoo will remove salt and other contaminants without harming your vehicle’s protective layer of polish or wax.

Rinse Completely

Rinse the whole car under the hood to remove any salt or chemicals that could harm the paint or cause rusting.

Dry Thoroughly

Use a soft and clean towel to dry your car, and keep in mind nooks and crannies where water can pool and cause corrosion.

Wax the Car

Wax creates a barrier between the paint and contaminants. A good layer of wax will help to protect your car’s paint during the winter months.

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Wash Regularly in Winter

It is important to wash your car in winter to prevent salt corrosion, but it can be tough. There are a few different ways you can wash your car during the winter, as highlighted above. Whichever method you choose, wash regularly using a quality car wash soap and in as warm an environment as possible.


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