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How and Why to Wash Your Car in Winter

By Tom Murray

Winter can be a rough season—especially for your vehicle.

Not just because of frigid temperatures, but also the slush, salt and dirt that collects as you go about your day-to-day chores. While it might be tempting to throw up your hands and wait until spring for a thorough cleaning, the accumulation of gunk can eventually damage your car if ignored too long. With that in mind, we asked Dean Syvenky, co-owner of Edmonton’s Garage 104, for a few helpful tips on how to wash your car in the winter.

1. Wait for a slightly warmer day.
Not that you’d usually want to be outside cleaning the car when it’s minus-20 something, but now you have a valid excuse. Once the Alberta deep chill descends, water on a car freezes too quickly to properly dry off—which means components like hinges and locks could become stuck or damaged if you force them. 

2. Dress the part.
Of course you’ll bundle up before starting. but water will inevitably splash on your. So be sure to wear waterproof materials. Not just your jacket, but boots and gloves as well. Helpful winter washing hack: Use rubber gloves inside of regular gloves if they’re not waterproofed.

3. Don’t use hot water on a cold car.
It sounds like a wonderful idea in theory, but spraying hot water on your windshield when it’s very cold often expands small cracks, possibly breaking the glass. Have you recently applied a protective car wax? A blast of hot water might remove it. Warm water is best for this situation.

4. Pay attention to details. 
Dean suggests using a pre-soak cleaner on aluminum wheels, as well as a salt neutralizing degreaser or a pre-soak on those hard to wash nooks and crannies. “When you wash the body of the car, use a low pH soap,” he says, “and If you have the means, use a silicone treatment to protect the vehicle’s door seals.” Dean also recommends spraying lubricant on locks, hinges and keyholes, to keep them free of moisture buildup. 

5. Keep vehicle warm after washing. 
Store the car in a heated environment and out of the elements for about 30-40 minutes after washing it. “It’ll help dry the water completely,” Dean says. “If you’re at a car wash, you’ll be dealing with high humidity. When you leave, make sure you’re pulling fresh air from the outside and your heater system, to circulate the humid air out of the vehicle and prevent the windows from frosting up.”

Spruce up your ride at Garage 104. Save 10% on auto detailing, Krown Rust Control application, paint protection and window tinting