The Chemistry of Cleanliness: Why You Should Get Regular Car Washes

BY: Groupon Guide |Jul 13, 2015
The Chemistry of Cleanliness: Why You Should Get Regular Car Washes

With an average of 257 sunny days per year in San Jose, it can be tempting to get a little lax when it comes to keeping cars clean. Commuters are used to vehicle-friendly driving conditions with modest rainfall and nearly nonexistent snowfall, limiting exposure to the two most common factors that drive automobile corrosion: moisture and salt. Nevertheless, cars are still vulnerable to the destructive culprit oxidation, better known as rust. Luckily, a quick trip to a San Jose car wash provides excellent defense against oxidation.

What is oxidation?

In layman’s terms, it’s rust. In more technical terms, the reddish-brown compound is iron oxide, the product of iron's exposure to oxygen and water. Most vehicles are susceptible to oxidation because they’re made of steel, an iron alloy. The longer the metal is exposed to the elements, the more oxidation that occurs, causing the once-strong alloy to become brittle and crumbly. Salt accelerates the process. Even though there’s not much risk of salt exposure in San Jose, it’s good to anticipate road salt when driving to colder destinations—after you’ve curated the perfect road-trip playlist, of course.

How does a car wash help control oxidation?

Scrapes and scratches befall even the most careful drivers. Some can be so slight, you’ll never even see them. Imagine a rivet on your jeans brushing against the paint and leaving a faint mark. These scratches can fill with dirt and grime, trapping particles that hold moisture. The undercarriage can be even more vulnerable, as it doesn’t have a coat of paint to help protect it from the invading grime, moisture, and oxygen of the surrounding environment.

A simple car wash dislodges many of the corrosion-inviting particles trapped in the paint and frame, thereby limiting your car’s exposure to moisture over the long term. What’s even better is that many shops, such as Morgan Hill Car Wash, use touchless systems, meaning there’s no risk of equipment touching your car and incidentally causing more scratches.

Is there anything else I can do to prevent oxidation?

Thankfully there is. To start, apply a coat of wax. Many places, such as Santa Clara Car Wash, include wax service as part of their wash packages. Waxing helps preserve the paint’s protective clear coat, which defends not only against oxidation but also environmental factors such as UV rays and insects. The attendants at Sunnyvale Car Wash hand-apply a Meguiar’s Hi-Tech Yellow Wax that lasts for up to four weeks.

If your car’s body looks dull and worn, then consider a clay-bar treatment. Similar to how a clay mask works on skin, a clay-bar treatment draws embedded contaminants out of your car’s paint. Also, don’t neglect the interior of your car. Oxidation can just as easily happen from the inside out, so keep floor mats and carpets clean, too. Then let the cleanliness of your interior inspire you to launch a line of creative air fresheners.