In many places across the U.S. where the summer heat has been brutal, any reprieve from rainstorms is few and far between. That also means your vehicle hasn’t received a free rinse-down courtesy of Mother Nature.
But how bad is it if you seldom wash your car — or, worse yet, if you never take it to the car wash or attempt to clean it yourself?
What happens if you never wash your vehicle?
According to online auto resource Carwash Country, any dirt or grime left on your vehicle is abrasive and can deteriorate the car’s clear coat over time. Once that clear coat has worn away, that can lead to rusting, pitting, fading and other impacts on the paint layer and sheet metal of the vehicle.
While older cars are already vulnerable to all these vehicle woes, not washing your vehicle can speed up the process and cause damage years before it might have happened naturally.
Going through a car wash helps remove dirt and grime on the vehicle, while waxes and sealants help protect your car’s clear coat — akin to how body lotion can protect a person’s skin from cracking, per Carwash Country.
Beyond damage to your vehicle, built-up dirt can also impair a driver’s safety. Improperly cleaned windshields, especially in the winter, can impact a driver’s visibility. That issue is only worsened in inclement weather conditions, such as driving through rain or dense fog.
When cleaning your own car, Progressive recommends washing the vehicle’s wheels with a separate rag first and then replacing it so as to not transfer that debris to the rest of the car. Once cleaned, you can then move to the body of the vehicle.
How regularly should you be washing your vehicle?
Washing your vehicle every two weeks is a safe rule of thumb, Progressive officials said. However, those who apply a coat of wax to their vehicle following a cleaning session might be able to get away with longer breaks in between, since it creates a barrier between your car’s exterior coat and the elements.
The interior of a vehicle should be cleaned more frequently, especially if you have children, if you eat in your car, or if you spend excess time in your vehicle. A ceramic coating added to your seats can also help prevent stains from developing and dust from gathering, per Progressive.
In places with excessive heat, you definitely want to prioritize washing your vehicle in the morning, according to Carwash Country. That way, the direct sunlight and higher temperatures don’t immediately dry up and leave water spots and film behind.