Should I Wash My Car In The Winter?

illustration of car in snowy weather driving down the road

Winter in St. Louis can mean serious damage on your car’s finish. Our predictably unpredictable weather patterns leave MODOT with the challenging task of planning to keep our roadways safe, which unfortunately includes lots of salt.

The way in which salt damages your car is particularly nefarious. It corrodes metal surfaces leaving them open to oxidation, and over time that oxidation will lead to rust. That’s one kind of auto body damage you definitely want to avoid if possible.

So how do we fix it?

Yes, wash your car. While it might seem like a waste with another potentially snowy or icy day just around the corner, a little preventative maintenance can make all the difference. That’s doesn’t mean run right out into the super low temperatures. Look for a day where the temperature is expected to rise to 40 degrees give or take a few where you can be sure the water will safely not freeze.

Don’t forget the undercarriage. One of the most susceptible areas for oxidation and rust are the important metal frame and mechanical components on the underside of your car. When these areas are attacked with rust they can reduce the structural integrity of your car and lower your car’s overall safety. Ensuring these areas are flushed out will do wonders for the life of your car.

Use wax. By using a good quality wax properly you can give your car added protection from the substances that damage car surfaces. I know that seems like a lot of extra work, but trust us, it’s worth it.

Not so fast. It’s not just salt.

Salt may be the biggest offender of winter vehicle damage, but it’s not the only thing you should be concerned about. There are other hazards that could be damaging your car’s exterior that you are ignoring when you put off getting your car washed in the winter. Old bird droppings, bugs, and tree sap left over long periods of time can eat away at your car’s paint exposing the metal underneath.

Look closer.

Supposing you take our advice (Of course you will. You’re an informed consumer, right?) and run your car through the car wash, we recommend taking a few minutes to look over your car closely to identify any areas where the paint may have been eaten through or exposed. There may not be rust developing just yet and that means you’ve identified problem areas early. That is the perfect time to get your paint touched up properly by a professional like those at Schaefer Autobody. We can help you extend the life of your vehicle by sealing those vulnerable areas before they have a chance to cause a problem.