If you live in a rainy climate, you know how tough it is to keep your car clean.  I swear every time I bring my car to the car wash it rains within the next 24 hours.  So I started to think…maybe the rain could be my natural car wash.  I spoke to car wash expert and co-owner of Darien Car Clinic, Tony Abbruzzese (yup, my husband) and asked him why would anyone wash their car when the rain could wash it for them. 

Here is what he said:

“I can understand why people would think that letting rain ‘wash’ their cars is a cost effective, easy, and fast way to get their car clean.  Rain is free.  At first glance it makes logical sense.  Unfortunately many people don’t realize that rain water can potentially be damaging to their vehicle and end up costing them way more than any car washes would have.”

Tony went on to explain what he meant.  He told me rain water is filled with contaminants which could affect your paint’s finish.  It’s what many people refer to as “acid rain”.

My Research:

I started to look into what Tony said and this is what I found.  According to the New York Times, “Acid rain is largely created when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are discharged by factories and power plants. The compounds turn into sulfuric acid and nitric acid in the atmosphere and can travel hundreds of miles before they fall to earth as rain or snow.

When acid rain falls on a vehicle, the moisture evaporates but the acid remains. Concentrated by sunlight, the sulfuric acid can become so strong that it will eat through or etch a car’s finish.  The blemish that results looks like a splattered raindrop. Once the damage occurs, it cannot be removed by washing.” 

Tony also explained to me that rain water can not effectively clean the underneath of a vehicle.   Dirt and salt can corrode the undercarriage of your vehicle if not cleaned properly.  Salt is corrosive – it’s so bad that the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sending out a reminder for driver to clean under their vehicle. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just issued a wash warning to drivers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, D.C. and 17 other cold weather states should clean their vehicle’s undercarriage.” (10TurnToTen)

Lastly, Tony explains that rain water doesn’t give your vehicle’s paint the deep cleaning and conditioning it needs. According to Tony, “A good car wash will use a soap that has special formulas to bring you the foaming and lubricating properties needed to wash your vehicles safely and efficiently with excellent visual appeal. That means it will help protect the finish of your vehicle from the elements it endures on a daily basis.

My conclusion? 

If you want to protect your investment and potentially save money on paint jobs and repairs, it’s best to bring your car in for a professional wash on a regular basis.