MOTORISTS are being urged to wash their cars thoroughly during the winter to avoid costly repair bills.
Experts warn that road salt – spread by gritters in freezing conditions to prevent hazardous ice forming – rapidly accelerates rusting on vehicles. And they say diligently cleaning the exterior of your car isn’t enough to ward off long-term damage.
The team at independent specialists Select Car Leasing point out you should also use a hosepipe or pressure washer on the underside of your car at least once a week when there’s grit lingering on roads – to get rid of the destructive salt coating.
Managing director Graham Conway said: “The vast majority of motorists understand that they need to clean their cars more often through winter in order to combat the effects of road salt.
“And you really need to keep on top of your cleaning regimen throughout this time in order to protect your car’s paintwork and exterior appearance from the harmful effects of road grit.
“But the underside of your car is a potential weak spot that you’re simply ignoring – because too few of us spend quality time cleaning this area.”
Conway pointed out that road grit can remain on roads for days at a time once it has been spread, especially if it doesn’t rain.
He added: “A build-up of salt, when combined with moisture, can really sink its teeth into some of your car’s key components, particularly the brakes, exhaust, the low-slung parts of the engine and even the car’s frame.
“To protect the longevity of your car, I’d recommend getting into the habit of always giving the underside of your car a good rinse when you wash the rest of your car.
“A hosepipe is great, a pressure washer is even better, provided the pressure isn’t too great that it damages components.
“And through the winter you do, ideally, need to be washing your car every week to prevent road salt from overwhelming your vehicle.
“You should also bear in mind that a lot of automated car washes have an ‘undercarriage wash’ option. If you can pay a little extra to get the benefits of that, it will save you money in the long run.”
Another winter tip for motorists from the Select Car Leasing team is to always keep a hat or cap with a brim in your car to help deal with the glare of the winter sun.
Conway said: “The winter sun can be a real hazard at this time of year simply because the sun is so low that it evades the car visor’s effects.
“I’d recommend having a baseball cap or some other brimmed hat stashed in your glove box, just in case, because the last thing you want to be doing is heading into busy traffic with your visibility compromised.”
The Select Car Leasing experts also say you should never neglect cleaning the inside of your windows, either.
Conway revealed: “Windows are one of the most ignored areas when it comes to routine maintenance yet the law states they must be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.
“And while most people think this refers to dirt which can build up on the outside, such as mud splatters, it refers to the inside of your vehicle, too.
“Grime on the inside of windscreens can create a dazzling, blinding glare when motorists are faced with other cars’ headlights. A build-up of interior dust and dirt also means condensation takes a lot longer to clear.
“On those cold, wintry mornings where you might also find a layer of ice on your windscreen, having spotless windows is going to make a big difference to the start of your day.”