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dirty car Big Stock: Andriy Medvediuk

Most auto enthusiasts tend to take care of their vehicles. That said, we all know that one friend who never bothers to do any car cleaning. Whether that be on the car interior, undercarriage, or the exterior, it doesn’t take long for an automobile to get completely covered in filth. Does it really matter though?

As it turns out, letting dirt and grime sit on your car can cause more issues than you might think. On top of just looking dingy and gross, your vehicle’s paint will also suffer the consequences if left uncleaned. To put it simply, it’s absolutely worth going to the car wash every now and then if you’d like to preserve your vehicle. Let’s break down exactly what you’re risking when you leave your car dirty.

Dangers of a Dirty Car

Pay close attention, because it doesn’t matter if you drive a 30-year-old car or one of those new fancy zero emissions electric vehicles. Any automobile on the road that goes uncleaned for too long faces the same consequences.

We’ll start off with one of the more obvious dangers. Riding around in a car that is covered in dirt severely impacts your visibility. Wipers help, but your side windows will be covered in a layer of dirt, and when the sun hits it just right, you may as well be driving around blind. Additionally, this grime can eat away at your headlight lenses, making your lights much less efficient overall.

Leaving your car dirty also accelerates the aging of it. Think about this: Dirt is abrasive. Even though rain helps wash some of it away, there are still tons of smaller particles that slide down the panels eventually. As it slides, it takes tiny paint particles with it. Even further, insects are worse than dirt. The ones with harder shells on them can do the same damage as pebbles hitting your vehicle, and it can absolutely scrape your paint even more than dirt.

Bird droppings are basically a nightmare. On top of just looking nasty, it’s also very acidic. These droppings have potential to eat through a third of the paint layers, exposing your actual paint to the elements. Between the dirt, bugs, and droppings, your clear coat will be toast before you know it. Once the clear coat is gone, your paint will begin to fade, giving the vehicle that oxidized look. The longer you leave dirt sitting, the sooner you’ll be pricing out a new paint job. Spoiler alert: That’s not a cheap job.

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If you happen to live in the northern U.S., you also have to deal with salt on the roads during winter. If this is left on the undercarriage for too long, it will rapidly accelerate corrosion and rust. This is a very quick way to not only disintegrate your frame, but also your car’s resale value.

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The coronavirus pandemic is basically over, so it’s time to break those vehicles out of hibernation for some car care. Be sure to clean up the exterior, car wheels, undercarriage, and interior of your ride, and your vehicle will thank you later. It only takes a few minutes to run it through a car wash, so it’s well worth it. Let’s be honest: A clean car looks better anyway.

WATCH: How to Make Homemade Car Wash Soap for Under $8

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