Washing your Car in the Winter

Does it sometimes feel like it’s next to impossible to keep your car clean during a Wisconsin winter? The constant precipitation and fluctuating temperature means that puddles, mud, etc. are tough to avoid.

Even though it’s a challenge, there’s a major reason that you should make a concerted effort to keep your vehicle as clean as possible during the winter months: ROAD SALT.

As we all know, road salt is used by snow removal crews following winter storms to help the buildups melt faster. Sodium chloride will also lower the freezing point of water which means it can keep ice from forming as well as eliminate frozen patches when applied.

While helpful in creating favorable driving conditions in winter, road salt is a double-edged sword in that it can also cause problems for your vehicle’s body in the form of corrosion. In fact, any component on your vehicle exposed to road salt for an extended period of time can be at risk for sodium chloride-related damage. Your coil springs, muffler, brakes and exhaust system are especially vulnerable to an iodine attack.

Luckily, there’s a simple way to be proactive in your prevention of road salt damage – wash your vehicle!

Here are some tips on car cleanliness for the winter months:

-After a snow storm, try and wash your vehicle within the next 4-5 days if possible. You’ll be driving on salted roads so this is the prime time in which the corrosion-causing ionic compound attaches itself to your car’s body.

-Unseasonable warmth = get to a car wash ASAP. Salt isn’t as great a threat when temperatures are below freezing levels. When you notice the snow banks starting to melt at the behest of the sun, be sure to get your vehicle cleaned at you earliest convenience.

-Focus on your car’s underbody. The majority of automatic car washes will have an option available to target this section of your vehicle and you should definitely elect to use it during the winter as this is the area most susceptible to road salt damage.

-Aesthetics aren’t a priority, hidden threats are. Removing potentially harmful elements from your car’s body should be of greater concern than cosmetic appeal for your vehicle during the winter months. Just because your vehicle looks good doesn’t mean that it’s safe from the threat of rust or corrosion, so be extra sure your car is free of these elements even if it looks clean.

If you do notice rust or corrosion starting to appear on your car this winter, be sure to bring it into Meister Import Motors right away – the earlier you recognize and deal with the problem the easier it will be to remedy. Our ASE-certified technicians can determine the cause and extent of the damage and possibly prevent it from spreading. Give us a call at 920-757-5543 if you have any questions about vehicle maintenance or if you need to schedule an inspection.