Reader Question: Just the Salt?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Tom asks: I would like to get the salt washed off my undercarriage. Can car wash places do just that, and not the rest?  I cringe at the thought of running the car through the spinning rags, etc. for the damage it will do to the paint. Thanks.

My reply: Automated car washes cannot do that – as far as I know. They’d have to somehow turn off everything other than the undercarriage wash. But the good news is that almost all automated car washes do not use the spinning brushes that used to leave fine scratch marks on paint. They use a soft cloth material and these should not abrade the finish.

That said, I prefer manual washing – either at one of those booths you can drive into and avail yourself of their high-powered pressure washer system (and make the mess there) or at home, using a garden hose – which you can increase the pressure of by using a nozzle, to clean off the undercarriage crud. Both allow you to carefully – at your speed – clean off the car, which is preferable in my view (being OCD) to the conveyor belt system at the automated car wash. You can devote more time to the details and use as much water – and less scrub – to get the gunk off.

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  1. I don’t think there is anything practical you can do to avoid what salt does to cars. I know there are a lot of claims to the contrary. However, my reasoning is because recently I took apart the grill, etc.. recently on a ’18 pickup to change the lights (wow to change the lightbulbs!!!), and I do spray the crap out of my cars after the winter. No more. When doing the dismantle, I was putting the bolts, in my mouth and wholly crap, even bolts in plastic, etc… had lots of salt on them. So I dove a little deeper and found salt residue on almost everything even after my spring cleaning.
    I like the ‘change the car at least every 10 years’ idea if you live in salt country. Or just let it rot out.

  2. I use a good high pressure sprinkler and move it all over under the whole vehicle. When I have a lot of mud built up I drape soaker hoses over the tires from front to rear each side. When mud stops falling out, use your high pressure sprinkler, preferably, one that sweeps from side to side. Put it over the lawn and you serve two purposes although I learned long ago to not move the vehicle for a few hours and don’t put it over your lawn you like to keep level.

    When I hauled cattle quite a bit, I put a big irrigation sprinkler in the trailer and left it overnight. There was a good fertilized spot too. Move to another spot the next day.


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