The first things that come to mind when many people ponder vehicle maintenance are oil changes and routine tune-ups. Though each of those things are vital components of automotive maintenance, it’s important that drivers recognize the value of a thorough car wash as well.

Drivers may see a car wash as a way to make their car look good, and that’s not untrue. An effective car wash can give a car a look that mirrors how the vehicle appeared the moment it was driven off the lot. But an effective wash is more than just cosmetic. A thorough car wash removes grit and residue, thus protecting the car’s paint job and reducing the likelihood of corrosion. Though late-model vehicles aren’t as susceptible to rust, fading and peeling as cars made decades ago, they still need a thorough and routine wash to remove dirt, grime and bird droppings that, over time, can adversely affect the paint job and, if left unchecked, eat away at the metal.

Another benefit to routine car washes is preventing damage related to seasonal issues. For example, we live in a region where snowfall is common and drive on roads that have been salted. Deicing the roads makes driving safer, but salt can accumulate on the undercarriage of the vehicle and contribute to corrosion. Winter may not be a time many drivers visit the car wash, but it’s important to do so after the snow has melted and salt on the roadways has been washed away by rain. Most car washes now offer high-pressure undercarriage treatments that can wash off the salt and prevent corrosion and the formation of rust.

But, it’s not just the car’s exterior that can benefit from routine washing. When taking their cars to get washed, many motorists pay a little extra to have their vehicle interiors cleaned. Sometimes, referred to as “interior detailing,” cleaning the car’s cabin helps maintain the interior, so it looks new longer. Routine interior cleaning also can remove dust and other particles that can serve as irritants if allowed to build up over time. 

Resale and trade-in value is another factor to consider. Microchip issues that have compromised auto manufacturers’ ability to produce new automobiles have led many motorists to the preowned vehicle market. By taking care of a vehicle’s interior, drivers are putting themselves in a position to capitalize on the increased reliance on the preowned market. Whether they’re private citizens or dealerships, prospective buyers will see more value in a vehicle with a well-maintained interior than one with a cabin that’s seen much better days.

Car washes may be seen as a purely cosmetic form of vehicle maintenance. But the benefits of routine and thorough car washes extend far beyond aesthetic appeal.