Getting your car washed and waxed on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to preserve its paint and keep it looking nice. Not only does it provide a point of pride for you, the driver, regular car washes help slow down the normal wear and tear that every vehicle’s exterior undergoes. Removing other environmental contaminants such as road salt, sap, tar and bugs in a timely manner also goes a long way to making your car’s paint and clear coat last longer.
But many wonder: How frequently should I wash my car? The answer depends first of all on personal preference and the vehicle you own. If you just purchased a brand-new luxury vehicle that still fumes with “new car” smell, you might want to wash your vehicle as frequently as once a week to keep it shiny and bright. But if you’re driving a beat-up rust bucket of truck, you may never wash your car.
For everyone else in the middle of those two extremes, a number of factors can influence the decision:
- Driving conditions. Do you live in a rural area with gravel or dirt roads or driveways? The dust kicked up and caked onto your paint means you’ll want to wash your car more frequently.
- Season. The grime and dust from road salt in the winter can do corrosive damage to your vehicle’s underbody and paint. Hitting bugs in the summer can have a similar effect.
- Climate. Those climes with frequent snowfall will require you to wash your vehicle more often. Salt, mud and snow can be damaging to your car's shine. Humidity also attracts more contaminants to your vehicle. Acid from contaminants such as bird droppings, bugs or tree sap is more active in higher temperatures.
- Geography. People who live in coastal areas will be exposed to more dirt and salt in the air. Living in an industrial area exposes your car to chemical particles that may be damaging to the paint job. The typical recommendation for people living in these areas is to wash their car weekly.
- Parking location. If you’re not fortunate enough to park your car in a garage every night, parking underneath trees that drop sap or in areas prone to gatherings of birds that drop bird stuff should convince you to wash your car often.
- Commute distance and conditions. If your daily commute involves long distances on the highway, your car’s exterior will be exposed to more road grime and bug strikes than a vehicle with a short non-highway commute, necessitating washing your car more frequently.
At a minimum, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle washed at least every two to three weeks to keep dirt and grime from building up on the exterior. If your drive involves the conditions mentioned above, you may want to wash your vehicle more frequently