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Tips for Washing your Vehicle in the Winter

Sporting weeks of salt and grime buildup, your vehicle is in desperate need of a wash. But with the temperature dancing around the freezing point, how do you know when it’s safe? It’s the wintertime automotive dilemma we struggle with year after year. Find out what temperature is safe for you to wash your vehicle here.

[Read More: How to Look After Your Car in Winter]

At What Temperature is it Safe to Wash your Vehicle?

Soft-Touch Car WashTouchless and Soft Touch Car Wash

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so ideally you should wait until the temperature rises to at least 30 degrees to visit automatic touchless and soft-touch carwashes. Waxes and polishes should be avoided at temperatures below 40 degrees. If you’re waiting for the temperature to kick up, you can bide your time by using a clean towel to wipe away salt and grime.

Though it’s not advisable, people often get away with using the automatic wash at cooler temperatures. If you’re willing to take the risk, you should warm your vehicle 30 minutes to an hour beforehand to minimize the chance of freezing. Soft-touch car washes are the safer option for cold weather because touchless car washes often use a high-pressure wash, which forces water into smaller crevices, making it more likely to cause your vehicle’s doors to freeze shut. Towel drying after will help remove excess water and prevent frozen door jambs. If you can’t towel dry, it is recommended that you continue to drive for about a half hour after washing to help remove water before it can freeze.

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Full-Service Car Washes

Full-service car washes are a better option for below-freezing temperatures. Most feature a heated car wash space and dry the vehicle off for you, so there’s far less risk of freezing. If you decide to visit the full-service car wash while the temperature is below 32 degrees, you should still take a few precautions to avoid freezing. Spray de-icer in your lock post-wash. Then insert your key and turn it back and forth to displace any water. If your car wash doesn’t include a towel dry, make sure to dry your door jambs yourself.

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