Keeping your car clean throughout the seasons is essential. It’s not just an aesthetic choice, although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the look of a spotless car. Cold weather is tough on cars, and frequent washes can help keep your car cared for and happy. Increasing your trips to the car wash during wintertime can help make sure your vehicle stays in tip-top shape, no matter what the weather is like.

Tips for Keeping a Clean Car in Winter

The cold affects the way your car runs. Salt and snow on roads can cause your frame to rust, and scraping off snow or ice often results in scratches in the paint. Keeping a clean car during the winter can help it last longer or retain its resale value. Check out these tips for maintaining your vehicle this season.

  • Wash off the salt – We can’t stress this one enough. Take your car to a local car wash to keep it spotless. All that salt and snow causes damage to your frame, suspension, undercarriage, and paint job. Flagstop Car Wash uses the best products to wash away all the calcium chloride in road salt so that it doesn’t build up on your vehicle.
  • Don’t tailgate – A good rule on the road on any day. In the winter, keep a large following distance to prevent the cars in front of you from kicking extra dust, dirt, snow, salt, and whatever else is in the streets into your car’s exterior.
  • Use rubber mats inside – Your vehicles might get water damage if you don’t take care to keep excess water out. Get some rubber mats to keep things dry.
  • Get it waxed – It’s recommended to use high-quality car wax or polymer sealant every three to four months. The extra coating will help keep dirt, dust, and grime off your car.
  • Wipe your windshield – Use a towel and cleaning products to hand-clean your windshield and windows a few times a month. This will keep grime from building up and inhibiting your visibility.
  • Protect your wheels – Salt and dirt can cake onto your wheels and mess with the mechanics. There are protective waxes and sprays available for wheels, so check with your local car wash and see what options they have.
  • Use heavy towels – Place these under the rubber mats to help absorb any excess muddy water, slush, and dirt. You can throw these in the washer every few weeks to keep things clean. Slush on the floor of the car can cause unnoticed rust and damage that’s expensive to fix.
  • Invest in mud flaps – These deflect road debris from the fender walls, keeping your car protected from the elements.
  • Inspect your car regularly – Do a check at least once a week to make sure there’s no rust on your frame. If you catch it early, you can have it taken care of before the problem gets worse.
  • Park indoors – This is not a possibility for everyone, but if you live in an area where there are regular snowstorms, you may want to consider investing in an indoor parking spot. Keeping your car away from the elements will keep it clean and running smoothly.

Find a Car Wash Near You

If you’re looking for a local car wash that you can trust to keep your vehicle in shape, visit Flagstop Car Wash. With eleven locations throughout Richmond, Chesterfield, and the tri-cities area, you always have a dependable car wash near you. At Flagstop, we take pride in our work and make sure each and every vehicle gets the best treatment possible.

While you should always keep your car clean and maintained throughout the seasons, it is especially important to wash your vehicle in the winter. Whether you live in the city or drive through the elements, salt, dirt, dust, and even dry leaves can affect the well-being of your car. It’s best not to allow dirt or salt to cake on parts of your vehicle. Normally, you should give your car a thorough wash every two weeks to a month, but in the winter, it’s best to wash it more often.

How Often Should I Wash My Car in the Winter?

The simple answer is you should wash your car every week in the winter. However, how often you wash your vehicle is also dependent on where you drive, how you store your car, the weather, and road conditions. A trip to the car wash can prevent salt from caking onto the vehicle’s body and rusting vital parts. The last thing you want is for your car to break down, or end up needing more expensive repairs to its frame because of salt deterioration in the winter.

If you live in or drive through the city, or park your car outside for most of the day and night, you should consider going to the car wash more often than you do in other seasons. Even if you live outside of the city where there is less salt (and more snow), you should still be vigilant and consider more frequent car washes during winter months. Most people living in and around the Richmond area would benefit from visiting their local car wash more often – it can prevent serious car trouble later on.

Don’t Forget to Wax This Winter

It is recommended to wax and detail your car twice a year. If you do so regularly, you’ll notice that weather conditions don’t affect your car as much. Wax has more benefits than making your car look shiny and new. It prevents corrosive substances – like salt or bird droppings – from damaging your car. A smoother exterior helps these materials slide off your car, instead of sticking to the car’s exterior.

What Salt Does to a Car

Salt on the roads keeps cars safe while driving in snowy and icy conditions. While salt can be vital when driving on snowy, icy roads by preventing drivers from sliding on slick surfaces, salt does damage vehicles after continued exposure.

The most common issue is that salt will rust your car. You’ll notice the difference immediately in cars that were not taken care of during the winter – the brown rusty spots are not easy to remove, and you may have to replace rusted parts entirely. You can rust-proof your car, but even that is not a guarantee. The best way to prevent your car from being damaged by salt is to wash it weekly.

Local Car Wash

Flagstop Car Wash has eleven convenient locations around the Central Virginia area. Our trained experts will make sure your car leaves in great condition and is ready to face harsh winter weather. We offer full-service wash locations, express automatic washes, and stations for self-service washing if you prefer to do it yourself. With an A+ rating by the BBB, expect friendly and honest customer service at every visit to our car wash locations. Stop by today and see how we can help your car stay clean this winter!

While many people know how to wash their car, the most efficient time to do so often goes unnoted. There is a common misconception that all car washes should occur around midday during the summer months, however, this is wrong and here’s why.

Why Wash Your Car

Firstly, it is important to cover the basics regarding the necessity of car washes. In a blog post published a year ago, we talked about the inevitability of car damage if you go too long without giving your car a proper wash. Rusting, damaged paint, and corrosion are just a few on the laundry list of harm that could happen if your vehicle isn’t washed for long periods of time.

Now that we’ve rehashed why adequate car care is essential, it’s time to address the best times to give your car that all-too-necessary wash!

When to Wash Your Car

If you are living in a place like Richmond where pollen attaches itself onto virtually everything you own, car washes are the best way to rid that unwanted dirt and that all too familiar plague of yellow dust particles from your car. It is important to wash during a time when it is neither too hot nor too cold. The most effective times to wash your vehicle are in either the morning, evening or during a mildly temperate overcast day, when the sun isn’t directly beating on the car. When temperatures are moderately cooler, as they tend to be during these hours, it is easier to avoid soap residue and stains. When temperatures are hot, water evaporates quicker which results in the evaporation of soapy water before a thorough rinse can wash away all the residues, leaving spots all over your vehicle. Even more so, when you wash your car under direct sunlight, it makes it more difficult to see the minute particles of dirt, dust and pollen laden on the surface of the vehicle. When you can’t see these deposits, you may subject your car to more damage if you unknowingly scrub these areas and scratch the surface of your vehicle.

In the same thread, it is best to avoid overly windy days when washing your car. There is nothing worse than cleaning off all the dirt, dust and pollen from your vehicle only to have a gust of wind pick it up and put it back on a now wet and sticky surface.

Winter Time Care

During the winter months, car care is equally as important. While pollen may not be the culprit in dirtying up your car during this season, snow, frost and ice play similar roles. When you’re washing your car during the winter, it is best to do so when the temperature is well above freezing. Similar to the summer months, washing the car during early daylight is preferable because it allows time for your car to dry before the temperature drops when the sun goes down. According to a blog post from Julia Douglas, the best way to maintain your car’s exterior in between going to the wash every two weeks is to use clean, warm water coupled with a little bit of baking soda to dissolve hardened salt during the winter months. It is important to dissolve the salt before carrying out a thorough cleaning of the car’s surface to avoid any scratching.

Now that you know when to wash your car’s exterior for the best results, stop by one of our 9 locations in the greater Richmond area for easily usable vacuums to tidy up the interior of your freshly washed vehicle!

You’ve seen the signs, heard the offers, read the articles, and maybe even considered joining, but there’s still that main question stopping you, “How does the RVA Wash Club benefit me?”

To help you make a decision, we broke down exactly what our Wash Club offers and how it will benefit you and your car.

Saves You Time and Effort

You never have to worry about paying for a wash every time you go, or even scanning a membership card. You will receive an RFID tag for your car that marks your car as part of the Wash Club when you pull up to any of our locations, so all you need to do is sit back and relax while your car gets cleaned.

Just like with music or entertainment streaming services, your membership renews each month with the card you keep in our system, and you are able to cancel anytime you want with no consequences or extra fees.

Saves You Money

Have you ever gotten your car washed, only for it to rain the next day? Do you find yourself needing to wash your car all the time due to pollen, dirt, or road salt? With our unlimited washed, you can take care of these problems by coming back as many times as you need, without it costing you a penny outside of your monthly flat rate. This means that you can bring your car every single day and have it cost the same as if you only went once or twice.

Say goodbye to having to plan your washes around the forecast or driving around with a salty car in the winter. With our Wash Club, you can be sure that your car will stay clean all year long without emptying your wallet.

We would love you to become a new member of our RVA Wash Club! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or visit one of our many locations.

 

When the trash begins to pile up and your console is getting sticky, it’s about that time to clean the interior of your car. After everything has been wiped down, cleared out, and vacuumed, you may find that your car still isn’t looking as nice as you expected. To give your car what it needs, you’re going to need to clean up your dashboard, without damaging it or leaving streaky residue. It may seem too difficult or a waste of time, but Flagstop is here to guide you through the process. After just a few simple steps, your dashboard will be looking good as new, and will make a huge difference in the overall appearance of your car’s interior.

 

Vacuum the Surface

The first thing you need to do is clear out pieces of trash, debris, and dust from the surface of your dashboard. This is important because it will remove anything that may be spread around or scratch your dashboard when you clean it.

After removing larger pieces of trash, grab a vacuum with a soft brush attachment on the hose. Use this to vacuum the entirety your dashboard.

 

Wipe Everything Down

Now that you have a smooth surface to work with, it’s time to wipe and disinfect your dash. Depending on what type of materials your dashboard is made of, you will need to use different cleaning solutions. Always do a spot test on your dashboard before cleaning to prevent more damage. 

Vinyl, Plastic, and Rubber Dashboards

For a dashboard with parts made from vinyl, plastic, or rubber, you will need to use a mild soap. Wet a microfiber cloth, and put the soap directly onto the cloth. Wipe your dash thoroughly with the soapy microfiber cloth. To reach crevices and harder to reach areas, like air vents, use a soft bristled toothbrush or paintbrush with the soap to gently scrub the area.

For tougher stains, you can create an all natural dashboard cleaner from household products. Mix 2 cups of water with 3 tablespoons of vinegar, ½ teaspoon detergent, and ½ teaspoon oil-based soap. You can spray this mixture directly on the dirtier spots of your dashboard, let it sit for a minute, and wipe it off with a damp microfiber cloth.

Leather Dashboards

Dashboards made with leather are a little more sensitive to chemical cleaners and soaps, which will dry out the leather, create cracks and dull its appearance. If your leather dashboard just needs a quick and basic cleaning, using only a damp, microfiber cloth will get the job done.

To fully clean a leather dashboard, use a damp microfiber cloth with either an oil-based soap, such as Castile soap, or a non-alkaline leather cleaner. Again, use a soft bristles toothbrush or paintbrush to clean hard to reach places. You can clean non-leather details and parts of your dash, like vent covers, with the gentle soap solution for vinyl, plastic, and rubber.

 

Don’t Forget the Details

It’s important to also clean your steering wheel, glass dash cover, radio system, gear shift, and center console. Wipe down these details with the corresponding dashboard cleaners based on what material they’re made of. For your radio and glass cover, wipe down with a glass cleaner and microfiber cloth to avoid streaking, glare, and dust remnants from paper towels.

You can also let the dashboard cleaners soak for five minutes in the dirty cup holder of your center console. Afterwards, you can soak up the residue with a towel and wipe down with a damp microfiber cloth.

 

Finish Off With a Polishing

Polishing your dashboard after it has been cleaned is a great way to give everything a little extra shine while also protecting it from wear and tear. You can buy some car dashboard polish and put some on a microfiber cloth. Do a spot test before applying all over. Wipe the polish all over the surface of your dash, applying more on the cloth as needed. Afterwards, wipe the dash one last time with a clean, dry microfiber cloth to clear out any residue.

You could also achieve the same results using coconut or olive oil. Again, do a spot test, wipe the oil on your dash, and go back over with a dry microfiber cloth. This will help to protect, condition, and shine your dashboard.

 

Now you have a brand new looking car interior! To further protect your interior, we suggest using a car windshield cover to block heat and the sun’s UV rays from fading or causing cracks in your dashboard.

Before you hit the road, consider stopping by one of Flagstop’s multiple locations to wash the exterior of your car and have the entirety of your car looking brand new. Too much work and not enough time? You can also leave it all to us, exterior and interior (including your dashboard), with our full service car washes.

It’s about that time for you to get your car washed, which means you have some decisions to make. What kind of car wash are you looking for? Do you have the time to get a high quality car wash? What is the best option for your car?

Getting an automatic touchless car wash might cross your mind. You drive in, get sprayed down, and leave, with almost no work from you at all. It seems like it would be quick and easy, but is it safe for your car?

What Is a Touchless Car Wash?

Using a touchless car wash method means that the only things touching your car are soap and high pressurized water. Your car is first rinsed off with water, then it receives a layer of soap, and finally the soap is washed off with high pressure streams of water.

It may seem like a quick, and easy option when it comes to washing your car, but its effects can actually leave your car in an even worse condition than when you brought it in.

Let’s take a drive through an automatic touchless car wash to see some of the cons up close and personal.

Harsh Chemicals in Touchless Car Washes

We begin with the actual cleaning portion of this trip. Because there is no physical contact from cloth or towels in a touchless car wash, you lose that elbow grease needed to effectively remove dirt.

To compensate, touchless car washes use soaps containing high concentrations of harsh chemicals with a higher pH. This shortens the life of the wax and sealants on your car by messing with the chemical balance in the products.

Wash after wash, the soaps quickly strip away layers of your finish, and after just a few washes, the soap can even begin to strip the paint from your car. Without good sealants, your car is more susceptible to the various physical elements you encounter with driving; you lack protection from rain, hail, road debris, and more dirt.

Your car will appear dirtier, sooner, driving you to get yet another cleaning.

Power Wash Your Car

Next, your car needs to be rinsed off to remove the soap that was added, along with the dirt and debris that is still sitting there. Touchless car washes use high pressurized streams of water to blast anything and everything from your car. This aggressive and unsafe method breaks up the dirt buildup and sends waste flying across the surface of your car.

Consequently, you end up leaving scratches on the paint and plastic parts of your car. If you get more washes, there is a higher chance of the water chipping and possibly rusting parts of your car’s finish.

Conditioning Water in Automatic Washes

Your car is almost through, it just needs one final rinse. In order to efficiently run touchless machines with high pressure water, the water needs to go through a conditioning process. Basically, the water is “softened” through a process of adding salts and electricity, which removes larger minerals, making the water flow through the machines easier and faster.

Using water recycled from the car washes before yours is an eco-friendly characteristic of most car washes. The runoff is collected, filtered, used to rinse off your car, collected, filtered, and used again.

However, the reconditioning of water creates a buildup in the concentration of salt in the water, and will leave a foggy film of dried salt on the surface of your car. In touchless car washes, the water runoff carries a lot more debris because it is the water doing the heavy lifting in the cleaning process.

On the bright side, this layer of salt basically replaces the layer of your finish that was broken down earlier.

What You Should Do

Your car is dried off, and we are finished with our automatic touchless car wash journey. Now that it’s done, your car looks… not so great.

The safest and most effective way to wash your car without the damage is by simply using car wash specific soap with a soft cloth. While this can be done by hand, we invite you to stop by one of our automatic car wash locations that use cloth brushes and quality car washing equipment to negate the effects touchless car washes.

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Here at Flagstop, we believe in giving you the highest quality clean with the use of the safest car wash methods.

We offer that quick, easy, and affordable car wash with our express soft cloth and foam wash express soft cloth and foam wash method. This process gives you a high quality clean, while also being gentle on your car’s finish.

For a more in depth car wash, check out our full service interior and exterior packages.

Trust only your own two hands? Our self service provide all the materials needed to give your car the care it needs.

Right now, you’re probably looking over a not-so-dirty car wondering if you should wash your car today. It’s a fair question. As a car wash company ourselves, we certainly would say that any day is a good day to get your car wash. For our RVA Wash Club members, who have access to unlimited car washes for a low monthly fee, getting their car washed every single day is entirely within their plan.

How often should you wash your car?

In a blog article posted over a year ago, we talked about how often you should wash your car. We recommended washing you car about once every two weeks. For many car owners, this is a little more often than what they are used to. For those individuals who think that every two weeks is a bit much, perhaps our article about what happens when you don’t wash your car will help you make an informed decision.

Assuming that you are going to wash your car either this week or next week, now you have to decide what day in the next two weeks. Thanks to the interesting world of the internet, we can provide you with a fun way to figure that out. Spin the wheel below to test if you should wash your car today, tomorrow, or sometime next week.

 

Locations around Richmond, Chesterfield, and Hopewell

Flagstop has nine locations around the Richmond, VA area. We have a location in Ashland, North Chesterfield, Chester (W Hundred Rd), Chester (Bermuda Crossroads Ln), Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, West End, Glen Allen and Hopewell.

For residents in Richmond and surrounding areas, a heavy pollen season is no foreign concept. Richmond has made it to the top of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s list of “Spring Allergy Capitals” for two years in a row. While we’ve been bumped down from spot #2 on the list, being #10 still isn’t something to be proud of.

Richmond’s struggle with pollen was especially heavy this year, starting as early as February with prematurely warm temperatures and quite a lot of rain. Last month, one day made it into the top 5 worst pollen days since 1988.

All of this pollen means that your car may still have a yellowish hue for a few weeks after the peak of pollen season. If you’ve read our previous blog post about why you should wash pollen off your car, you know how that can be important.

Wash Your Car Today

Flagstop has 9 locations around Richmond, Virginia where you can wash your car or have it washed for you.

Flagstop has locations in:

Many of our locations include vacuums to get the pollen out of your seats. After you’ve washed off the pollen, treat your car to a wax coating or some extra car polish car to protect your coat of paint.

Plus, with the RVA Wash Club, you can wash your car an unlimited number of times per month so you never have to worry about a dirty vehicle.

Spring is ramping up and, as anyone with allergies knows, that means pollen. As pretty as flowers look when they bloom with the warmer months, your car can become coated with yellow dust and require a trip to your local car wash.

But as you get in your car and go to the car wash, you may be wondering whether the effects of pollen go beyond skin deep. It is a fair question. Pollen may leave an ugly hue that may look especially bad on dark-colored vehicles, but is it really all that bad?

How Pollen Affects Your Vehicle

Pollen are microscopic thorny balls that blow in the wind and attach themselves to many surfaces. They are an integral part of a plant’s reproductive system which is why plants are so keen on mass producing this irritating dust.

While tiny-thorned balls that float across your car’s exterior may sound like scratch-inducing mayhem, this aspect of pollen is actually quite harmless. The acidity, on the other hand, is cited by a few online articles as a cause for concern. While Flagstop was unable to verify the scientific grounds for the acidic level of pollen, many sources maintain that pine pollen is acidic when it comes in contact with water. If true, this oxidation could eat away at the exterior of your paint and make your car susceptible to rusting.

Another area of concern for your vehicle is the way pollen dust can find its way into your air filters and the internal mechanics of your car. When driving through pollen-infested air, your car sucks in a large amount of pollen dust, and the air filter can clog and circulate allergy-causing air throughout your car’s cabin.

The Best Solution for a Pollen-Free Car

In all cases of removing pollen from your car, it is imperative that you wash thoroughly. This includes vacuuming the dust out of some of the nooks and crannies of the car and checking under the hood for dust in the air filter.

After washing your car, you will want to consider a good coating of wax to make your car a slippery surface that the pollen won’t want to stick to. This will protect your car’s paint from any threat to its integrity, such as acidity or oxidation. Wax is best applied before pollen season is in full swing as the microscopic pollen particles can be everywhere in a pollen storm. You wouldn’t want to trap the dust that you are trying to ward off underneath the layer of protective wax.

How Flagstop Can Help You Fight Pollen

With vacuums available at many of our car wash locations, Flagstop can help clean both your car’s interior and exterior. Flagstop car wash has locations in and around Richmond, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights and Hopewell. What’s more, RVA Wash Club members can wash their car free of pollen anytime for a monthly fee so they don’t have to worry about needing to wash more often when the pollen is at its worst.

A frosted windshield when you are running late can be a frustrating combination of shivering, scraping, and waiting for the car to heat up. But no sooner do you get the ice off of the car and you have another issue to deal with, fogged up windows. In September, we talked about preparing your car for cooler weather, now let’s talk about how to defrost your car window and keep your windows from fogging up.

Use a Rubbing Alcohol and Water Mixture to Melt the Ice

A rubbing alcohol solution “melts” the ice off your windshield by dissolving in ice and lowering its freezing point. Isopropyl alcohol has a freezing point of -128.2*F (-89*C). So unless you happen to be reading this article in weather that breaks the world record coldest temperature of -128.6*F, you’re in the clear. While your car heats up, the alcohol solution will make clearing away the ice easier.

Clearing the Fogged Up Window

Once the ice is cleared from the outside of your car windows, you may still have an issue with foggy windows.

The reason your windows get fogged up in the winter is because of the cold air outside. Imagine an ice-cold beverage that develops condensation on outside of the glass except the cold beverage is the air outside your car and your windows are the glass. This is essentially what is happening to your vehicle.

Your car’s inner air is slightly warmer and more humid. The freezing temperatures just outside are chilling the air so that it is releasing its moisture against the inside edge of the windows. This can be an extra aggravation as you try to heat your car to melt the ice on the outside. Unknown to you is that you are simultaneously contributing to the the fog on the inside.

Here’s how you fix that:

  1. Turn your heater on full blast
  2. Turn on the A/C
  3. Turn off inside air circulation
  4. Crack a window to bring in cold air

Cleared to Drive

It’s important to note that even the fastest methods of clearing your car windows can take a little time. You never attempt to drive away without clear enough windows to see where you are driving, especially in wintry road conditions.

Once the outside and inside of your windows cleared, you are safe to drive. We know that winter can pose additional hazards to the exterior of your car. Read our previous post about what the salt on the road can do to your car’s paint and stop by a Flagstop Car Wash near you to keep your car looking great all winter long!