Car Wash In Freezing Weather

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Aug 28, 2006
How many of you do it? What is your procedure? Do you just wait until the temperatures stay above freezing? Do you go to a hand or automatic car wash place or spend the bucks and drop it off at a detailer? What problems have you experienced washing a vehicle in freezing temperatures? I would like to hear all the good and bad of washing a vehicle in freezing temperatures.
If I had to wait until the weather was above freezing, I wouldn't wash the car from November to April. I have never had any problems with washing the car during below-freezing weather. After the car is out of the car wash I open all the doors, trunk and hood and dry the weather stripping and under the doors so they don't freeze...good to go. It at least keeps the salt from accumulating on and under the car over the winter.
I take everything through automatic car washes. Full service. There have been times that my vette in the middle,black Porsche in front and gray Jag behind. $24.95 vacuum,windows,hand drying,tire dressing etc. Sometimes I take my own wax. Meguiars number 26 yellow wax. For $49.95 they do all of the above7 plus hand wax. All while you wait. I get tons of compliments on my vehicles.
Touchless car washes only for my car. I paid for school with my detailing business and I spent all that time seeing the damage of automatic car washes (with the brushes) in cars' paint jobs. I use hot water in the bucket and generally wait until the temperature is -5C or above during the early afternoon.
When I lived in an apartment with "free" hot water, I unhooked my washing machine hot lead and ran a garden hose out the window. Was about 14 degrees and I blasted the salt off with scalding hot water. If you want to actually dissolve and rinse away salt, more heat works more better. Didn't wreck the paint, but I tried to keep it off the glass. :P I left all the doors open so it could flash-evaporate (sublimate?) without freezing things shut.
Since I own a bunch of hot water pressure washers my cars and trucks have been washed with very hot water for decades. It works so well you rarely need any detergent. Just keep the pressure reasonable and it is very safe. The wonderful side effect is no scratches ever in my clear coat finishes!
^^This for sure. You're lucky to have pressure washers rated for hot water. Aside from that, I've washed vehicles for years in the winter. In the cab industry, you have to keep the car clean and presentable, and -40 C is no excuse. The biggest issues are to ensure that the door and trunk seals are dried up and that the locks are blown out with compressed air and/or lock deicer is used as needed. As eljefino points out, letting the ice on the doors sublimate works, too, provided you have the time. A quick wipe with a rag or even paper towel in a pinch works fine. At times, even in winter, I wash my vehicle daily. I get lazy on the door seals, since I have a heated garage, and it's sufficiently dry by morning anyhow.
Same here. I use neoprene gloves and have at it anytime it's warm enough that the water won't freeze on the car. Since this is often after I come home from work, it'll freeze the doors overnight. Keeping them ajar for a half hour after washing is usually good enough. Otherwise the water wicks into the gap between seal and car and it'll freeze hard and shut. It helps not to lock the car. The hose is always thawed and in the basement.
I've washed cars in sub freezing weather before. If it's just a couple of degrees below, and there is no wind and sunny skies, you just wash and dry it quickly and the water will not freeze.
Used to hand wash it at self serve car wash, usually frozen hands, frozen locks would result. Although, still the best way to get car cleaned.. Now I go to automatic car washes to save my hands. Above 0 it gets hand washed, below 0 automatic car wash.
I've used the "soft touch" washes in a pinch. But otherwise I'm lucky enough to use hot water and find a spot in the heated shop to let it dry out. Water in the door seals is definitely the biggest issue, but as mentioned, compressed air takes care of it. But keeping the rear wheel wells rinsed out should help the car to live a long time.
I wash my cars a lot in winter, usually after a storm and when roads get clear and dry and there's a sunny forecast. Car needs to already have a good coat of wax, then I just use a bucket, warm tap water so my hands don't freeze, and sponge, dry off with towel or chamois. In the driveway if above 40, or in heated garage if below. Water on garage floor evaporates in couple of hours, or I'll wet vac it. A clean car in middle of winter is awesome. Lots of road salt in NJ after snow storms, better to wash it off. I never go to automatic car wash.
Admittedly it doesn't freeze often where I live but during inclement weather I use Poorboy's Spray & Wipe with several quality microfiber towels. In fact I only bucket wash when the car is a muddy mess.
I have considered Optimum Opti-Clean for winter clean-ups for my two vehicles that are gargaged. They never get anything more than dust or dryer lint on them. My wife's car and my daily driver get dirty enough that I couldn't stand to go with waterless wash. I just can't and won't get out there and wash when it's below 45. About once or twice a year I run our car through an automatic wash. I really catch [censored] from the neighbors if I'm washing cars in cold weather. LOL
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