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Is it ever too cold to wash your car?

Milwaukee winters are cold. The Wisconsin State Climatology Office of Milwaukee, WI indicates that on average, about 150 days out of the year, the Milwaukee air temperature reaches below freezing levels. With that said, how is it possible to wash your car in winter months when it’s clear that the water left on your vehicle will turn it into a popsicle? The answer is not as simple as you might think!

It Matters How You Wash

What sub-freezing car washing really comes down to is what kind of car wash facility you are using. Obviously, trying to hand wash your car in winter is out of the question because of the freezing temperatures, so what about professional car washes? Are car washes safe to use when the temperature is below freezing? It depends. Any professional car wash that is able to remain open during below freezing temperatures is almost always guaranteed to have a closed off and heated washing bay/tunnel. With this in mind, let’s focus on these types of washes that include: gas station type touchless in-bay automatic, touchless tunnel, soft touch tunnel, and full service.

Dangers of Incorrectly Washing Your Car in The Winter

There are several dangers of trying to wash your car in winter when its below freezing: frozen water on the outside of your car, frozen doors, frozen locks, etc. To avoid these issues, the key is to use a car wash facility that hand towel dries your car (including door jambs) and utilizes low pressure washing methods. Towel drying is important because it removes all of the water off of your vehicle’s exterior as well as removing the water from your door jambs, eliminating any chances of frozen doors or locks. High pressure is not recommended either due to the chance that a vehicle will get water forced into door locks and other components.

Touchless Winter Washing

Touchless car washes must use high pressure to complete their washing process, and the chemical reaction that takes place on your vehicle (during their Hi-Lo washing method, chemically burning the dirt off your car) does not work nearly as well in cold temperatures. It is also important to note that most of the touchless car washes that you will encounter are of the in-bay automatic type at gas stations. These washes have no hand towel drying, allowing for frozen doors and other vehicle parts.

Soft Touch Winter Washing

Soft touch express tunnel washing, while much safer, is still not ideal in freezing conditions for many of the same reasons touchless washing in winter is not safe. This is primarily because there are no workers drying the excess water off the vehicle and out of the door jambs, making freezing a serious issue.

How Our Team Does Winter Car Washing

In over 30 years of business in the greater Milwaukee area, Full Service Car Wash has never closed any of our car washes due to cold temperatures. This is because we combine the best of low pressure, and soft touch washing with hand cotton towel drying in our heated facilities during freezing temperatures. This ensures that our customers have no issues with winter washing at any of our facilities. It is also important to note that all of our wash packages include a hand prep that removes all the snow and ice before it enters our car wash, as well as a low pressure underbody rinse that uses clear water to flush away excess salt and sand accumulated on your vehicle’s chassis during winter driving. Because of these extra factors in our washing process that make it safer and more effective than other professional car washing options, many of our customers are surprised to hear that the winter months by far are the busiest time of year for us!


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