Your available time isn’t the only thing to consider when it comes to car washing. Many factors can affect cleaning results, especially the heat of the sun, which can leave water and soap marks, among other imperfections.
So when is the best time to wash your car? If you’ll be cleaning your vehicle outside, the ideal time to do it is when it’s not too hot, like early morning or late afternoon.
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When Is the Best Time to Clean Your Car
In the morning, the best time of day to wash your vehicle outside is earlier than 10 am because that’s when the weather is coolest.
If you wait until afternoon, after 4 pm is best, since this is when temperatures begin to drop.
The above periods are the best time to wash a black car and avoid getting water marks, which are very noticeable on dark paints.
Avoid midday because this period would be too hot to wash your car. Moreover, there are other factors to be considered, such as wind, cold temperatures, and rain.
1. Hot Weather
Heat can cause water and soap marks because it can dry your washing liquid before you remove it. Apart from that, there are other disadvantages when washing car in sun, such as:
- Direct sunlight can obstruct your vision and make cleaning off contaminants tricky.
- Pouring water on a hot car body can tarnish the clear coat.
- The heat can also make wax or coating applications uneven.
Hence, in the summer, it’s ideal to wash your vehicle in mid-morning, when the air is cool. Specifically, the best car wash temperature would be around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also, the best weather to wash car in is cloudy with no strong winds because winds can also cause problems.
2. Windy Weather
If you’re experiencing windy weather, it’s best to wait for a calm day to wash your car. Otherwise, contaminants can be blown towards your vehicle and stick to surfaces as you wash them, which can cause scratches when you wipe your car.
3. Cold Weather
Car washing in cold weather, especially a snowy winter, is a challenge because it can make water freeze and jam your doors.
It may also make the windshield crack from thermal shock because of the different temperatures of the water and vehicle.
That said, washing frequently in winter prevent rust and other types of corrosion on paintwork, metals, plastics, and rubbers that can be caused by road salt and sludge.
So, to safely clean your car when it’s cold and snowing, avoid washing it in freezing temperatures, around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) or lower. Even in 40 degree weather, you might still risk ice formation. So choose a time when the temperature isn’t extremely cold, approximately in 50 degree weather or warmer.
And don’t forget to also wash your car’s underbody, as it gets exposed to road salt, sludge, and dirt the most. You can go to a car wash to clean this part if you can’t do it yourself.
4. Rainy Weather
As areas that don’t experience snow, like some places in California, Hawaii, Texas, etc., give car owners the advantage of not having to deal with freezing temperatures, road salt, and sludge, their only issue during winter is rain.
Rain accumulates contaminants from the atmosphere, and not only does it make your vehicle dirty but it can also leave water marks once it dries.
- To be safe, you can check your local weather report to see if there’ll be precipitation today or the following days, and give your car a good wash and wax before it rains.
It’s important to also apply wax to your vehicle to shield off raindrops and other contaminants.
- Alternatively, wash your vehicle after rain, and the sooner you do this, the better. At least, the car should undergo cleaning 10 days after a rainy period, though immediate cleaning is preferable.
When Should You Not Wash Your Car?
As stated above, the bad periods for washing your car are:
- Extremely hot or cold weather
- When there’s too much wind
Is It Better to Wash Your Car in the Morning or at Night?
Since heat and sunlight aren’t issues during nighttime, a car wash at night may seem like a good idea. But it can actually cause some problems.
One Reddit user shared that he found drying difficult at night, as it was hard for him to see if there were any wet spots left to wipe over, and he ended up getting water and swirl marks on his car.
Moreover, dampness can also cause corrosion, which is hard to avoid if you don’t have the right equipment to dry the vehicle. The night air, after all, may be too cool to remove moisture.
Is It Bad to Wash Your Car When It’s Hot?
It’s not advisable to wash your car when it’s hot because it can result in undesirable results such as water and soap marks, tarnishing the clear coat, and uneven wax or coating applications.
Should I Wash My Car With Hot or Cold Water?
The answer depends on different situations, and you must be very careful with the temperature you use, as the wrong one can harm your car.
- For example, if your vehicle is very hot, you shouldn’t pour cold water on it, as it would cause thermal shock and damage on the surface.
- The same goes for hot water when the surface is very cold, such as when you clean car window in freezing weather.
But generally, hot water should not be used when car washing because it can bring about oxidation in paintwork, which leads to rusting, especially when used with a pressure washer. It can also break down a car’s protective coating like wax and sealant.
The best water temperature to use would be warm water at 100 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit because this range helps soften and lift contaminants off the surface, which makes for better cleaning power.
But don’t worry if you don’t have a water heating system, as water as cold as 50 degrees can also do.
Moreover, it can also depend on the car wash product. Car shampoos differ, so a product may require either warm, hot, or cold water.
Now that you know when is the best time to wash your car, you’ll be able to get great cleaning results without problems such as water or soap marks, scratches from contaminants blown by the wind, etc.
Always wash cars during the coolest time of a hot day, when the weather is cloudy and without strong winds. And in winter, avoid freezing temperatures.