Awesome! It was getting to be about time to wash your car anyway. But hey, it’s about to rain outside. No need to head to the car wash now. Just let the rain give your car a free shower. Right?
Well, they say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There certainly is no free car wash. At least, not where the rain is concerned. Not even the heaviest soaker is enough to clean your car. In fact, technically, rain is capable of more harm than good.
Rain is not enough of what your car needs
While it might seem like a simple solution – let the rain wash away the dirt and debris from your vehicle – the truth is, rain just doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done. Oh, it is able to rinse off a bit of dust. But only a bit. A light rinse at best.
The contaminants that soil your car need much more. They need pressure applied, as in pressure washing. An automatic car wash employs water jets that deliver greater than a thousand pounds per square inch of pressure. Even in a deluge, rain falls at a somewhat more leisurely pace.
But even pressure washing alone is usually not enough. Specialized car wash chemicals deployed during the various stages in a car wash tunnel are targeted at all the different types of contamination that a vehicle encounters. A soft-touch car wash also utilizes a gentle agitation with foam cloths and brushes to loosen up those contaminants once they have been emulsified before the car is rinsed off.
In the meantime, your car’s underbody is getting blasted clean – something sorely lacking in a rain shower.
Rain has too much of what your car doesn’t need
The idea that rainwater will clean your car also misses another element that has an impact on car care: not all water is the same.
A quality car wash incorporates an advanced water recycling system to reclaim and recondition the water that cleans your car. Water softeners are used in areas that are known for hard water. Otherwise, contaminated water would simply reintroduce harmful chemicals like salt back onto its surface. And hard water would cause spotting.
Unfortunately, rain does that too. Chemical compounds that fall with the rain can wreak havoc on your paint, windows, and other vehicle surfaces. For instance, minerals can lead to hard water spotting, a condition that is difficult to remove. And pollutants in the air lead to acid rain, where the rainwater actually becomes acidic and can etch the paint. If left to dry, the acidic compounds concentrate; when they are re-wetted at the next rainfall, they do even more damage.
Acid rain and hard water spots can be extremely difficult to remove from any surface. If they are left on your paint, they often require professional car detailing to correct the paint without adding to the damage.
Your car is not cleaned by the elements, it needs protection from them
Not only does the rain fail to adequately clean a car, holding out hope that it will do the job is kind of like putting the wolf in charge of guarding the hen house. Maybe not so dramatic or imminent a threat, but kind of.
You see, rain and mud and snow are conditions that lead to the deterioration of your vehicle, not to its improvement. Rather than looking to the rain to clean your car, you might consider protecting your car from the elements.
For instance, applying barrier coats of polymer sealant or wax (or both) to your paint will not only make it look shiny, but it will make the water bead up and run off easily. The process also keeps other contaminants from being able to stick so easily. And spotting is minimized or eliminated.
A full service automatic car wash even offers products such as Rain-X Complete Surface Protectant and Armor All ® Extreme Shine Wax, add-on or “car wash extras” that, while not the same as hand-applied products, offer protection from the elements in between frequent car washes.
So, the rain is not a car wash. It takes far less time for the rain to wreak havoc than it would take for the rain to actually accomplish much in the way of cleaning. That is not to say that your car is in danger just because it is sprinkling outside. The effects of rainwater are not immediate, like walking through lava or splattering egg on your car might be. But leaving the raindrops to dry in the hot sun (or washing your car in hot weather) can create permanent damage.
It is best if you are able to keep your car coated with protective sealants and waxes, and dry off your windshield and other glass surfaces, painted panels, and alloy wheels as soon as possible. And the next time it looks like rain, consider heading to the car wash instead of offloading the responsibility to the weather.
(Interested in top tips for detailing your car to make it look amazing?)
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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