Winter Washing

I just bought my first car in May. I am quite diligent about washing and waxing, and I like to do it by hand. I like to take care of the few things I have, especially expensive things, so they last a long time. Anyway, I’m in a bit of a conundrum now that winter has set in. I know people usually all rush to the car wash once it gets above freezing, but I also know that it may never get above 35 until mid-April now.

What do you experienced car owners do during the winter to keep your car clean and salt-sand-free? Are there any touchless car washes in town that blow-dry well enough to go to them when it’s 0 degrees out? I have a heated garage, but it’s not terribly warm, and has no drain. I’ve heard of the Optimum No Rinse product, do people recommend that?

As much advice, and local recommendations, as possible would be appreciated!

19 Comments

krlars

about 12 years ago

I haven't had a car nice enough to justify washing in the winte for a while, but University Spur(Everyone still calls it Univeristy Conoco even though it isn't Conoco anymore) towel dries.  Make sure you work the power locks periodcally as you are driving away and for the next day or so and you shouldn't have a problem.  You can get little cannisters of propellent that de-ice your locks if you are worried.

Mel

about 12 years ago

Thanks for the tip, but I refuse to accept a towel dry. Does hitting the power locks actually prevent the lock from freezing? I don't use the key to unlock since I have remote unlock, can the actual internal power locking mechanism freeze? or is it just the key part that freezes?

samh

about 12 years ago

Ride your bicycle

Mel

about 12 years ago

Thank you Sam, but I don't think that riding my bicycle is going to keep my car clean. Regardless if I'm driving my car, or riding a bicycle, the car is still going to become dirty.

TimK

about 12 years ago

I use the SuperAmerica car wash up 53 just past Northern Equipment. They have a pretty decent blow dry at the end. I leave my car unlocked for a day or two afterwards- not that anyone would steal my car in the first place. Heated garages are a major contributor to rust-through on cars that drive on salted roads, so frequent car washes are a good idea.

TimK

about 12 years ago

Oh yeah, try a little silicone spray lube around your door gaskets if you have a particularly tight seal that is prone to freezing. You can also try spraying the inside of your wheel wells with Pledge furniture polish to reduce the collection of road slop.

Mel

about 12 years ago

Thanks Tim, that's exactly the kind of info I was looking for. Incidentally, we don't actually park cars in our heated garage. We use it for other purposes, so my car is always parked outside.

erktheviking

about 12 years ago

I usually go to the wash at 27th st w Spur, and its always seemed to work well.  I get the pricey wash, which takes care of the underbody as well-  If you drive slowly enough through the dryer, it does a fine job.  I have yet to have my locks/doors freeze.  Worth a shot, anyways.

Calk

about 12 years ago

TimK, thanks for the advice re spraying Pledge to cut down on the the road glop. I have tons of that shit in my wheel wells and didn't know what to do about it.

E.

about 12 years ago

The London Road car wash is pricey, but they get your car pretty dry afterward. They blow dry and towel off the car. They will towel off the door seals too. In fact, they blow compressed air into the door locks to try to dry them a bit and minimize the chance of lock freeze-up.

I don't think that it really matters though if you have the auto-lock key fob to open the locks. The key-hole may freeze, but the water shouldn't get to the locking device.

Beverly

about 12 years ago

I don't know this for sure, but I think waxing a car is not necessary because of the high-tech paint put on cars today.

For the rare day I wash my car, I like the self-serve place on Grand Avenue. You can spray under the car as much as you want. It's tropical in there; you close that garage door and leave winter outside. It's nice place to clean out the inside of your car, too, in the middle of winter.

Self Service Car Washes
7802 Grand Avenue, Duluth, MN

lojasmo

about 12 years ago

Well;

I'd go to the best place you can find (we have a simoniz here in Rochester) and get their high-end wash WITH A WAX.  Then just get any old wash every couple of weeks (with underbody wash) Complete detail in the spring at home in your driveway.

Ruthie

about 12 years ago

Mel, I have always liked London Road Car Wash.  It is a bit pricey but they do a good job.

Mel

about 12 years ago

I liked the advice given here, which is why I thanked each person. I tried googling this stuff, and found some decent posts, but I wanted some local advice. Every car wash is different. Anyway, thanks everyone for your suggestions. I live a couple blocks from London so I may try there, and request them not to towel dry the paint (once again, researched online, almost everyone said towels are rarely washed after every use, and even the least bit of dirt can screw up your finish). I also like your suggestion Beverly! That sounds awesome!

Thanks again everyone.

The Big E

about 12 years ago

I have a winter car.  The key problem is that it has a summer car climate control system right now.

kristin

about 12 years ago

I'm pretty sure that the towels at university conoco + london road car washes are washed after each use. Both have large bins like trash bins that you see them toss the towels into.

London Road car wash is also by the mall. I prefer that place because they have compressed air to spray out the locks.

PartsGuy

about 12 years ago

Always wash your car with a quality car soap.

Do NOT, repeat, NOT use dishwashing liquid. It will damage your car's clearcoat. 

Dry with a chamois cloth, synthetic ones such as the Absorber are the best choice.

Follow this with a quality car wax. I personally prefer Meguiar's Deep Crystal 3 step system. 

How you apply the wax is up to you. Your choices for the most part are by hand, using an orbital polisher, or a rotary polisher.

I have a rotary polisher I use for the large sections of my truck, but most often I do it by hand. If you don't want your shoulders to hurt like hell, spend the money for an orbital polisher. Orbital polishers mimic the movement you would do if you hand waxed. Rotary polishers are better left to experienced people, as if you're not careful, you'll burn through your paint. This will make you unhappy.

For your wheels and tires, do them last and use a spray and walk away type product. The best products for this are made by Stoner, IMO.

Stoner also makes about the best glass cleaner I've ever used.

Topofthehillman

about 12 years ago

The only way to go in the winter is London Road Car Wash.  They use an air hose to blow the lock out at the end, plus wipe down the inside "door jam" of excess water.  No frozen locks!

Scud

about 12 years ago

What I do is go to the wash it yourself place behind Sammy's in Woodland.  You aren't supposed to bring a bucket in there but I go Sunday night and spend 45 minutes detailing "old Glory in and out...and it is nice and toasty in there.

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