Why keeping your car clean in mucky conditions can prolong its lifespan

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Why keeping your car clean in mucky conditions can prolong its lifespan
WATCH: When the seasons change, the cleanliness of your vehicle often suffers. One mechanic says a perpetually dirty car can cause damage and safety issues. – Nov 22, 2019

You see it every year when winter comes or goes – long lineups at the car wash.

The changing of the seasons has many vehicles less than sparkling clean but, as one Regina mechanic says, rinsing your ride does more than restore its shine.

“The cleaner a vehicle typically is, the better condition it typically is in,” said Frame & Wheel Alignment Co. General Manager Steve Karch.

READ MORE: Skip sidewalk salt, up the insulation and other expert tips for winter

Karch says vehicles are full of nooks and crannies that can become lodged with muck and grime – and not without consequence.

“The biggest thing though is your brakes,” he said. “You get a lot of dirt buildup in your brakes, or ice – any kind of debris, and it can cause excessive wear and the moving parts to seize and stick”

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And, he says that while the crud covering your car’s windows and doors certainly dings its cosmetic appeal, the most dangerous dirt often goes unseen. Sand, gravel, salt, snow, ice and more can build up in places like exhaust pipes, wheel wells and rocker panels. Trapped moisture can lead to rust and corrosion and can even open up holes into your car cabin.

“Especially in the winter when you’re idling or stuck in the snow, you’ve got exhaust fumes and they can come in through those openings and create a potential safety issue,” said Karch.

READ MORE: Canada’s winter forecast: Cold and snowy for large chunk of the country

Karch also said its important to clean your car’s undercarriage which contains many areas that can hold moisture and road salt.

The City of Regina uses a mixture of dry salt and sand on the roads. The mixture varies according to weather and road conditions. When conditions are below -10 C, the mixture contains six per cent salt. If conditions are very icy, if freezing rain hits or if the the temperature is above -10 C, the city says they can increase the salt content up to 50 per cent to “eliminate the ice bond to pavement and provide traction control for the vehicles.”

“Drive-thru car washes typically have an under-vehicle spray, that can get a lot of this dirt off,” said Karch.

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Karch recommends that, in dirty conditions, you wash your car once every one or two weeks.

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