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      01-15-2024, 03:25 PM   #1
Jeff J
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Cleaning your car in the winter

For those of you who live in places with snow, salt, and lengthy periods below freezing, how do you keep your car clean?

In my area the automatic touchless car washes are closed below freezing. My garage doesn't have a floor drain for attempting any kind of bucket/hose wash/rinse, and it's way too cold to use the outside hose reel or leave the garage door open.

At this point I'm not looking for show-car clean. I just want to remove some of the road salt and other chemicals. The forecast shows high temperatures below freezing for the foreseeable future, so I'm not sure what approach to take.
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      01-15-2024, 04:15 PM   #2
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My car normally stays dirty untill the weather allows me to rinse it off.
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      01-15-2024, 04:21 PM   #3
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Rinseless wash with tons of microfiber towels seems to be the solution!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJRJ...el=McKee%27s37

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzZQ...riot%27sGarage

https://www.autogeek.net/keeping-you...n-winter.html/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXQt...el=McKee%27s37

https://www.detailedimage.com/Ask-a-...-washing-tips/
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      01-15-2024, 05:16 PM   #4
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I rinse it every week at coin wash and when the the weather in my unheated garage permits it, I'll do a rinse less wash on it (after rinsing it at coin wash) but that's for show car clean, when I really want my car 100% clean compared to all the other cars around lol. I don't even have a ceramic coating on it yet just use a spray type product every time I wash it and it rinses nicely on the weeks I don't do rinse less. Can't wait to get CarPro CQuartz on it next year.

I'm surprised in your areas touchless car wash are closed when freezing. But yeah in your situation I'd be doing automatic touchless washes every week or so. You can probably still do a rinse less without a drain. Especially if your garage is heated must be nice!
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      01-15-2024, 05:38 PM   #5
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I live in NYC now so my car ends up staying dirty much longer than I would like - especially with all of the salt used around here.

I grew up in NJ and decades ago I was at an NSX event with the owner of Zymol and he showed us that he ran hot water to the garage. We liked that idea so my father plumbed that in. What a difference it makes to be able to use warm (or hot) water through the hose. I used to be able to wash the car when it was very cold out and not feel like I was freezing my hands off. If that is an option, I highly recommend it.
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      01-15-2024, 06:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WayneM3 View Post
...he ran hot water to the garage. We liked that idea so my father plumbed that in. What a difference it makes to be able to use warm (or hot) water through the hose. I used to be able to wash the car when it was very cold out and not feel like I was freezing my hands off. If that is an option, I highly recommend it.
+1. It's not super cold here in New England, so anything in the mid 20s (F), I'll wash in the driveway with warm water (bucket will be scalding hot). Driveway will be freezing under my feet, but blow dry and back into garage. Winter roads typically have so much slop, impossible to keep clean if you daily drive, but it's enough to satisfy me.

Anyone use any of the cheap pressure washer undercarriage attachments (nozzles on wheels)? I've been thinking about one to get salt off suspension and other components not covered by the underside plastic panels.
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      01-15-2024, 07:11 PM   #7
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I have the Ryobi water broom. I had to grind down the stop so it would adjust to the proper 90 degree angle when using the wand under the car.
Works great for me.

When it is a bit warmer with dry roads(not packed snow covered), I will fill a gallon pump sprayer with McKees rinseless solution and pre- rinse the car.
This gets a lot of the sand and salt off. I usually have to fill the sprayer twice.
I will also hit wheels plus barrels, undercarriage and wheel wells.

Then I will use Carpro ECH2O and 8 or more TRC Eagle Edgeless 500 to do a rinseless.

If it's above freezing I will use the pressure washer for a Reset wash and squeegee the water out of the garage when done.
My garage heater helps a little with the process.
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      01-15-2024, 08:45 PM   #8
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Great comments, all! We're currently sitting at about 5F here with a -10F wind chill, so running any kind of water outside (at least here at my house) is a bad idea. The garage does stay above freezing (currently 38F), so some kind of rinseless product might be an option.

I'll have to check out the self serve manual spray car washes to see if any of those are open / operating. Maybe they've been wise enough to plumb themselves with warm water for winter use.

We climb all the way to 21F tomorrow, but the wind picks up and the wind chill plummets (school has been cancelled since it will be -20F with the wind). At ~20F I don't feel as bad about running someone else's water - at least it won't freeze to the car as fast as I can spray it!
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      01-16-2024, 06:26 PM   #9
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If it's not snowing or raining, and it's dry roads out, I'll bring it to the coin car wash and spray it down with soap and water (my car is ceramic coated) and dry it with microfibers to get rid of whatever dirt is left on the paint.

Normally try once a week, if not once every 2 weeks.

If it's uber cold out, i'll try to find a warmer day to do it, my car is parked in a heated garage anyways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMidnightNarwhal View Post
I'd be doing automatic touchless washes every week or so. You can probably still do a rinse less without a drain. Especially if your garage is heated must be nice!
If your car is ceramic coated, I would only use the cheapest wash they have available, and only use touchless when you really need to, the soap they use is normally pretty harsh.
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      01-16-2024, 07:54 PM   #10
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another for coin DIY washes. Made sure to use the "wax" spray as the final spray off as it seemed to not freeze up immediately and allowed me to dry the car off.
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      01-20-2024, 10:11 AM   #11
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Wait for a day above 40 lol
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      02-11-2024, 09:30 PM   #12
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I have a garage but use this griots timeless wash and have been very happy with results so far. I use a pump sprayer to apply it and fill up a bucket with the solution as well. Just have a lot of towels.
https://a.co/d/cun08q0
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      02-12-2024, 07:50 PM   #13
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There is a school of thought that this is not the greatest of ideas,

Keeping salt of the car and bodywork helps a lot

Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Dubbs View Post
My car normally stays dirty untill the weather allows me to rinse it off.
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      02-12-2024, 07:52 PM   #14
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2019 BMW 540  [0.00]
Buy a winter beater. Problem solved

At least, that's what I did.
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      02-17-2024, 05:51 AM   #15
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^Good one, I try to clean as I can.
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      02-17-2024, 07:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkoral View Post
+1. It's not super cold here in New England, so anything in the mid 20s (F), I'll wash in the driveway with warm water (bucket will be scalding hot). Driveway will be freezing under my feet, but blow dry and back into garage. Winter roads typically have so much slop, impossible to keep clean if you daily drive, but it's enough to satisfy me.

Anyone use any of the cheap pressure washer undercarriage attachments (nozzles on wheels)? I've been thinking about one to get salt off suspension and other components not covered by the underside plastic panels.
I've been using the Erie Tools undercarriage unit for 3 years and I'm happy with it. My 340i is pickled for the winter, but I have three other cars to keep clean so I basically run my pressure washer year round. I keep it in the basement and just run the 75' hose out of the garage to the driveway...

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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      02-17-2024, 08:15 AM   #17
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Right through the touch carwash. Touchless leaves a horrible film that looks worse than a dirty car. I still remember winter 2013-14 in MN, nobody washed their car for 3 months, it was awful. My favorite car detailer gets a visit in the spring to fix the paint.
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      02-23-2024, 08:34 AM   #18
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If it's too cold for a full bucket wash, I head over to the coin op wash just for water. iK Foam Pro 2 foamer filled with water and Adam's Car Shampoo as a pre-soak and Sonax Wheel Cleaner for wheels, then rinse off. They have the dryer guns available at the booths here, so I use them for the seams, mirrors, wheels, etc.

It's not spotless or perfect, but easy enough to do every 7-10 days to keep salt off.
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      02-24-2024, 10:27 PM   #19
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1) find a place where you can power wash the vehicle and get most of the heavy grime off
2) park car in garage and wash it with Optimum No Rinse
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      02-25-2024, 04:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaud1998 View Post
Buy a winter beater. Problem solved

At least, that's what I did.
Ironic, LOL, I bought my M4 because I was tired of watching my Hellcat sit for 6 months in my heated garage.
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      02-25-2024, 04:03 PM   #21
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Maybe running it through a touchless carwash with underbody wash and rinse less wash after would be a good compromise solution.
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      02-26-2024, 12:13 PM   #22
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Here in New England the automatic touchless wash bays never close, even when the temperatures are well below freezing so I regularly run my car through one every week or so, or a day or two after a storm where the roads were salted.

Every fall, right before temps get below freezing I do one last pre-winter detail where I seal and wax the car using Meguiars M21 topped with Collinite 845. The combo of those two lasts until well into spring even with regular touchless washes.
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