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!

Putting salt down on the roads immediately after a snowfall is necessary to keep everyone safe. These chemicals on our roadways are specifically designed to dissolve into snow and ice, lowering the water’s freezing point to keep it in a state that isn’t as slippery. Mixing sand with the salt is also helpful to improve traction and keep the salt in place.

With the primary danger of a snowfall being the slippery conditions, this salt and sand mixture is the best strategy to keep you safe. But, what do these chemicals do to your car?

Salt Corrosion on Your Car

With safety being the top priority, the health of your car’s exterior takes a back seat. Corrosive chemicals from the road can embed themselves in your car’s undercarriage and eat away at crucial components. This can translate to expensive repairs when the shocks, brakes or other parts give way.

Your car’s coat of paint isn’t too keen on salt and sand either. Rust can eat away at the exterior until your vehicle becomes an eyesore of decaying metal. As your vehicle deteriorates before your eyes, its structural integrity reminds you of a fast-approaching date with a junkyard.

How to Fight Off Rust and Corrosion

Preventing car corrosion before it gets bad is a two-fold operation:

  1. Wash Your Car’s Undercarriage Regularly
  2. Use a Wax Finish on Your Car’s Exterior

Washing your car on a regular basis is not just about the skin deep beauty of your vehicle. Having a dirty car can lead to a lot of other issues. It is important to keep “wash the car” on your monthly maintenance checklist for your vehicle. Having a monthly car-washing habit or a planned day of the month to get the car washed will take the worry out of winter damage. By keeping up your car’s cleanliness on a regular basis, you’ll know your car’s next bubble bath is right around the corner.

Using a wax finish on your car’s exterior will also help to protect your coat of paint. The DMV recommends adding a wax coat before winter begins. Once the rust begins to bubble around the edges of the car’s body, it’s too late to begin preventative measures. But, if you can catch the issue before it starts, you won’t have to worry about trying to fight off the rust and corrosion.

In addition to prevent the corrosive elements of winter, you can also check out our checklist for cooler weather.

If you are local to the Richmond, Chesterfield, or Colonial Heights areas, Flagstop Car Wash makes regular car washes as easy as possible. For the price of a monthly gym membership, you can take your car to the wash as many times as you please and get our best wash on the menu. Visit our RVA Wash Club page to learn more.

A DIY attitude can help you go green in many of your everyday choices. When you choose to reuse a plastic container instead of tossing in the garbage, you get a second life out of it. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, upcycling can save you money while being safer for the environment.

When it comes to washing your car, doing it yourself could seem greener than going to your local car wash. Car washes feature high pressure wands and lots of foaming detergents washing over your vehicle. Parking your car in the driveway and using a garden hose and biodegradable soap seems to be a great do-it-yourself option.

But this is not actually the case. Washing your car in your driveway can be a lot less green than taking it to your local car wash. Here’s 3 reasons why:

Conserving Water at Every Stage

Manufacturers design car wash systems to maximize the cleanliness of your car while minimizing the amount of freshwater needed. As a major expense for your local car wash company, they do everything they can to save water where they can. Currently, the average water usage across the car wash industry as a whole is 38 gallons per car wash.

To put this in perspective, older washer machines with a water factor of 10 or higher, can use 40 to 45 gallons per load washed. While new technology in high-efficiency washers can bring this down to 14 to 25 gallons a load, it only takes 2-3 loads of laundry to use more water than washing a whole car!

By comparison, an average garden hose uses water at a rate of 10 gallons a minute. This means that after 4 minutes of running your hose in the driveway, you’ve already used more water than an typical car wash. And, with a high pressure wand, you’re liable to use the hose for even longer than that.

Water Reclaim Systems: Less Down the Drain

When you wash a car a home, all of the dirt, grime, and grease from your car washes down the driveway into the nearest sewer drain. Any of the oil in your car’s undercarriage or salt from winter roadways washes directly into local bodies of water. The purpose of sewer drains is to prevent streets from flooding in times of intense rain, not to filter out water pollutants.

On the flipside, commercial car washes use water reclaim systems to both filter out pollutants AND reuse water for multiple washes before sending it down the drain.

One popular system is a three tank system. This works in three steps. First, water from the car wash floods the first tank. Dirt settles to the bottom of the tank and the cleaner water at the top of the tank overflows into the second tank. The second tank overflows into the third tank and then the water from here is reused stages of the car wash that won’t affect the quality of the wash. Many of the early rinse and soapy stages are done entirely with reclaimed water. Other systems use reverse osmosis and other methods to achieve even higher levels of onsite water purification.

For car washes who wish to remain profitable, the goal of 90% water efficiency is the goal. This means that most car washes only use freshwater for the 10% of the wash cycle where it is absolutely necessary.

Regulating Common Pollutants

After you finish washing your car at home, it is unlikely that you store up the water runoff and test for pH levels and the presence of harmful pollutants. It’s much harder to track and test the water at home.

Commercial car washes on the other hand, are strictly regulated by local municipalities. Their wastewater must be tested regularly to ensure that it does not contain more than the legal amounts of harmful chemicals. Many car washes then use professional pit cleaning companies who safely dispose of hazardous waste according to EPA regulations.

 

Your Green and Clean Machine

In addition to the water-saving benefits of visiting your local car wash, there are number of other benefits including waxes to preserve your coat of paint. Next time you think about washing your car in the drive, consider visiting one of Flagstop’s friendly locations instead. Hope to see you then!

 

Sources:

https://brandongaille.com/19-car-wash-industry-statistics-and-trends/

https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/waterconservation/pages/carwashing.aspx

https://www.home-water-works.org/indoor-use/clothes-washer

https://www.simoniz.com/car-washes/equipment/starting/water-reclaim-systems/

You probably already shop local for a lot of things — such as produce, clothing, and coffee — as shopping local has become a big thing to celebrate. So why would it be any different for you to shop local when choosing a car wash? Going to a locally owned car wash can not only get you more bang for your buck, but it can also give back to your community and environment.

Personalized Care

While larger car wash locations may seem like the easy choice, you might be missing out on the detail and personalized care that a local car wash would provide. At Flagstop Car Wash, all of our employees are thoroughly trained to ensure that your cars are washed, cleaned, and waxed correctly. This personalized car care is hard to find, but we pride ourselves in training and teaching the best and most useful ways of car washing to our employees so that your experience with us is as personalized as possible. Plus, we love getting to know you! And with unlimited washes with our RVA Car Wash Club, we hope to get the chance to know you really well!

Better for the Environment

There are a lot of reasons why visiting your local car wash is better for the environment, but perhaps the biggest one is the runoff that happens when you wash your car at home. The runoff that comes from the car can be hazardous and dangerous to lie in neighborhood streets, but car wash drains are meant for holding and disposing of those hazardous chemicals. We professionally clean and empty the pits of our car washes so that nothing toxic is left behind for our customers and environment.

Impact the Community

Perhaps the biggest reason why someone would want to support their local businesses is to give back to the community. When revenue and business is done in your local community, you are able to support the growth of your whole community’s finances. Not to mention, car washes are a great way to fundraise and give back to the community. It’s safe to say that local car washes are a great place to host and support your community locally.

 

While giving back to the community is something Flagstop is proud to do, we also are equally as proud to be a part of our communities across Richmond, Virginia. When you choose one of our many locations to wash your car at, you’re going local, supporting Richmond, and giving back to your community too. We cannot thank our local customers enough!

Fall is a great time of year for so many things, but as the weather gets cooler and winter works her way into the atmosphere, there’s one thing you should have prepared for those chilly nights: your car.

If you’re not sure how to prepare your car for the cooler weather, look no further. We’ve put together a list of five tips to help you get your car ready for the cold.

Keep an Eye on the Tire Pressure

As the air becomes cooler, your tire pressure is at risk for dropping. Because of this, you’ll want to check on it more often to ensure that the pressure is at the appropriate level for your car. If your tire is low on pressure, it could result in an unsafe driving condition (potentially a flat tire) which could put you and your passengers in danger.

Check Your Antifreeze Levels

Antifreeze is a liquid within your car that helps keep the engine from freezing, so it’s especially important to monitor your car’s antifreeze levels throughout the fall and winter months. A frozen engine means a stranded driver. While antifreeze is important throughout all seasons since it keeps your car from overheating, you’ll definitely want to pay more attention to it as the temperature lowers.

Test Your Battery

The battery of your car is prone to freezing, especially if it’s not working properly or is on the verge of dying. Battery capacity is likely to decrease throughout the course of the winter, so testing and replacing your battery is crucial to preparing your car for the cooler months. If you aren’t sure how to test it, visit your local mechanic to ensure that your car has a battery that is in good condition.

Get a Fresh Coat of Wax

When you get your car a wax, you’re protecting the car’s exterior from harmful conditions. Just as rain, dirt, and pollen put your car’s exterior at risk, snow, frost, and ice can be harmful too. Getting a fresh wax will give your car an extra layer of protection throughout the cooler months. Are you located in the Richmond, Virginia area? Check out our services to see our waxing prices. We’d love to have you come by!

Stock Your Car with Winter Necessities

If you live in Virginia, then you know how unpredictable our weather can be. That’s why we recommend carrying winter necessities with you throughout all of the fall and winter seasons. Winter necessities for your car include: an ice scraper, a blanket, a bag of sand (incase your car gets stuck in the snow), a cell phone charger, a small broom (for brushing off snow), a flashlight, and a pair of gloves. Of course, many of these are for worst case scenarios, but it’s better to be prepared for nothing than to be unprepared for the worst.

 

At Flagstop, we love helping our customers keep their cars in the best condition possible throughout all the seasons of the year. So whether you need a wax, a vacuum, or a classic car wash, stop by one our many locations around Richmond. We’d love to help!

There are certain car maintenance rules that we all know to follow such as change the oil, rotate the tires, and get it inspected once a year. But did you know that failing to keep your car cleaned could cause issues like rusting, damaged paint, and corroding? While failing to wash your car might seem like no big deal, the reality is that it can create more costly issues than washing it would.

Dirt Can Stick

Dust, whether you can see it on your car’s surface or not, is floating everywhere around us. Combine the natural amount of dust and dirt in the air with moisture and you’ve got yourself dirt that will stick to your car’s surface for a very long period of time (until you wash it). Even on days where it’s not quite as humid or rainy — any amount of moisture in the air will cause that dirt to stick, meaning your paint job is in jeopardy of being damaged.

Paint Does More Than Just Look Good

Because cars are made of metal they are susceptible to rusting. The paint on your car helps protect the metal from dirt that sticks and causes rusting — but once the paint of your car is worn, damaged, or flaking, the body of your car is in trouble. Giving your car plenty of washes, especially when there is a lot of moisture in the air, will help protect the car’s paint job, which in turn, will help protect the body of the car.

If your car has a bubbled area of paint on it, well, that’s a clear sign that your car’s body is beginning to rust. When moisture reaches the metal of your car, it will rust and continue to spread even underneath the paint. This is another great reason to protect your paint job by washing your car often.

The Interior Matters, Too

Whether you have children, pets, or friends who frequently ride in your car, you’ll want to be sure that you’re not neglecting the interior of your car when it comes to cleaning it. Dust, old crumbs, and pet hair will cling to the dashboard and seats and can cause stains, bad smells, and even poor air quality.

The best way to clean the car’s interior is to start by vacuuming everything — floorboards, seats, car seats, dashboard, and trunk — to free the car of as much dirt and dust as possible. Then, wipe down the dashboard, console, and cup holders with a wipe. If you’re car still isn’t quite as fresh smelling as you’d like, we definitely recommend installing an air freshener, at least until the bad smells are gone.

Resale Value is at Stake

If you’re working hard to protect your car’s paint job by washing it often, then when the time comes for you to sell or trade your car for an upgrade, chances are you’ll be in great shape. However, buyers will without-a-doubt check in on the car’s condition before purchasing, and if you car has rust, bubbled paint, or even dirt on the outside, it’s an immediate red flag.

If any part of you thinks you’ll be selling your car, even in the distant future, you’ll want to keep it in as prestige of conditions as possible. The best way to do this — clean the exterior and interior of your car often. This will help ensure that the resale value of your car is as high as you expect it to be.

 

Cleaning your car inside and out can be a trying job, but we can help make that easier. We have nine full service car washes around Richmond to make your car washing experience as convenient as possible. We offer exterior washing, interior cleaning, and even pet cleaning services. We’d love to help you keep your car in top-notch condition.

We are excited to announce that our Staples Mill Express location will be undergoing renovations starting on September 4th! During this time we will be closed, so we ask that our loyal customers of this location visit our location on Parham Road, or any of our other locations in the metro-Richmond area. For a full list of all locations, click here.

Please note that if you do have an RVA Wash Club membership with us, you can use it at ANY of our locations! That includes both Express and Full Service!

We thank you for your patience and we cannot wait to give all of our loyal customers the latest and greatest in car wash technology! We will make an announcement at a later date for our Grand Re-Opening.

Although it’s tempting to fly out the door for your beach trip, take the time to prepare your vehicle for the journey. It might delay your head start on the highway, but neglecting to check that your car is ready for a long drive can be dangerous for you and your family.

In addition to a car wash to prevent more dirt from damaging your vehicle, we recommend checking the following parts:

 

Brakes

If your brakes aren’t up to par, this can be hazardous as you travel. Take your car on a test ride to see whether there are any weird vibrations under the brake pedal or if there’s a grinding noise.

Regardless of the noise or motion of how the car slows down, if it seems unusual, go ahead and take it to a mechanic to get looked at.

 

Fluids

It’s important to monitor the levels of the following fluids before traveling:

  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Engine oil
  • Coolant
  • Windshield washer fluid

To check these fluids, look at your owner’s manual. A rule of thumb with the brake fluid is that it should be relatively clear. Also, an easy way to check the windshield washer fluid is to turn your car on and spray it to see how much is left.

A simple spot check can detect other issues too. Consumer Reports recommends in their article “How to Prep Your Car for Vacation” to “run your vehicle for about 10 minutes until the engine is up to its normal operating temperature, then park it for a few minutes and note any fluids that may have dripped from underneath…Red liquid is power-steering fluid or transmission fluid. Brown or black fluid is engine oil. A yellowish-green liquid is coolant. A clear liquid is either water (usually just condensation from the air conditioner, which is no problem) or brake or clutch fluid.”

 

Battery and belts

To see if your battery needs to be replaced, you can follow your owner’s manual and fill the battery with distilled water while checking for cracks. However, if you’re not confident in doing this yourself, definitely take your car to a mechanic.

Since belts and hoses only last a few years or so, it’s crucial to feel the hoses for soft spots and cracks. Similarly, you can evaluate the belts by feeling them for worn out areas or slack. If you detect anything in the belts or hoses, visit your mechanic to have them replaced.

 

Tire pressure

Checking your tire pressure may be the easiest task. Some newer cars alert you if your tire pressure is low, but for other vehicles, you need to insert the pressure gauge into the air valves to see if they’re properly inflated.

 

We hope this was helpful as you get ready for your summer vacation! Don’t forget to swing by your nearest Flagstop Car Wash to choose from a variety of affordable car washes!

As July starts to wrap up, temperatures continue to rise to sweltering highs throughout the week, so it’s crucial to know how to protect your car from being damaged from the heat.

In this blog, we’ll give you a few tips for protecting the interior of your car specifically. Keep in mind that following these guidelines can help maintain the value of your car and save you money in the long run.

 

1. Cover surfaces

Simply adding floor mats and seat covers can prevent some heat damage as well as help avoid other things from wearing down your car’s interior like embedded dirt.

 

2. Wipe your dashboard

Cleaning your dashboard helps fight the risk of dust building up and causing scratches. We recommend using a microfiber cloth to wipe it down.

 

3. Crack the windows

If possible, crack your windows slightly when you leave it parked in one spot for a while. It helps level out air pressure and lower heat building up inside.

 

4. Park in the shade or buy a sunshade

Making sure your vehicle is parked in the shade is a simple way to help prevent your dashboard from being damaged from too much sunlight. Some people choose to go ahead and buy a sunshade to block the sunlight coming in through the windshield.

 

5. Use conditioner on the seats

Applying a conditioner to your car’s seats can not only keep them cleaner, it can also limit the amount of tears or worn spots in the material.

 

6. Get experts to thoroughly clean the interior

At Flagstop Car Wash, we offer a variety of car wash options including our full service wash which has a interior vacuum, window cleaning, dash and console wiping, wheel brightener, and triple foam conditioners as part of the deal.

 

You can also get a basic interior cleaning for just $10 or interior dressing for $15. If you’d like to know more about our interior car washing services, reach out to us today or swing by one of our locations!