Complete Guide To Car Undercarriage Wash

The Dummies Guide To Undercarriage Wash Your Car

Washing the undercarriage of a car is not what most people include in regular washing. In fact, many people are confused when it comes to undercarriage washing. Should you wash the vehicle undercarriage? How often to wash it? How to wash the car undercarriage? These are all questions we will be answering in this guide for undercarriage wash.

The undercarriage of a car should be cleaned once every season. It should also be washed after off-road driving or driving on road salt. A professional wash is recommended, DIY takes a lot of tools and expertise.

We will go over each of these things thoroughly in a second.

Should You Wash The Undercarriage Of A Car

Should You Wash The Undercarriage Of A Car

Yes, the car’s undercarriage can be washed. The undercarriage gets dirty, road grime, brake dust, and road salt all can cause corrosion. If you neglect it, you will soon notice rust problems. Your vehicle will sound different, with a lot of squeals. In due time, your engine and brakes will be affected.

I know that some of you are scared about spraying water under the car, and you think that it does not require a wash. You are kind of right, excess water can actually increase corrosion.

But professional wash services perform undercarriage cleaning without damaging anything. Protective measures are taken to ensure a condition without rust. All the critical components are covered and clean parts are sprayed with WD-40. This prevents rust.

Can I Wash The Undercarriage At Home

Can I Wash The Undercarriage At Home

But automatic car wash places and some wash services charge extra for the undercarriage. This begs the question: Can I avoid the extra costs? Can I wash my car undercarriage at home?

First of all, I respect everyone that practices DIY regular washing. This is a habit that all car owners should do. If you want a clean car, you must maintain it at home. Even if you take your car to an auto car wash, I still recommend a waterless wash at home. Dirt accumulation is one of the worst car enemies.

However, I don’t recommend washing the undercarriage at home. This requires a lot of tools. The undercarriage should not be washed while the car is on the ground. Bits and pieces of rocks will jump off the ground. So, you will need to lift the car or wash somewhere with a spotless floor. Also, you will need a pressure washer.

That’s not all though. For proper cleaning, you will need a proper cleaning agent. So, what you use matters a lot. There are hard-to-reach areas that the pressure washer will not clean. In an automatic wash, the machine can reach those nooks and crannies. 

I’m saying that you should not clean the undercarriage if you don’t have the proper tools. If you have all of this and know what you are doing, you can wash the undercarriage at home. Remember though, some car models have sensitive parts around the undercarriage. Some cars have bottoms that should not be sprayed with water. Make sure your car isn’t like this before you do it.

How Often To Wash Car Undercarriage

Washing the undercarriage once is not enough though. You need to regularly wash it to prevent corrosion from grime buildup. How often to wash the undercarriage?

The general rule of thumb is to wash the undercarriage 4 times a year. This means once a season. Your car comes in contact with dirt all of the time, so the dirt buildup will be too much in time. So, washing it 4 times a year is a great protective measure.

This is not always the rule though. There are special situations. For instance, if you drove on a dirt road, or if you like to drive off-road, once a season is not enough. I recommend washing the undercarriage each time you pass by an especially dirt road, or after every track of off-road driving. Besides the usual dirt buildup, this carries additional dirt.

Another special situation, salt on the road during the snowy periods of winter. The common road salt can cause a lot of damage. We all know what sodium chloride can do. The undercarriage is the part where road salt sticks. So, after the snow ends, and you need to wash the undercarriage immediately. If the snow persists for more than two weeks, you may need to wash it regardless.

How To Wash The Undercarriage Of A Car

How To Wash The Undercarriage Of A Car

After reading all of this, if you are still up for washing the undercarriage at home, you will need some help. I must stay, I don’t recommend that you do this, but here are some tips.

  1. Make sure that the car manufacturer allows for spraying water under the car.
  2. Lift the car.
    You should not wash the car if it’s close to the ground. Rocks will jump off from the water pressure. Some critical components may get damaged. Instead, lift the car if you have a lifter. Or, clean the garage floor thoroughly. Make sure the surface below the car is smooth and clean.
  3. Remove the wheels.
    This is not necessary. Removing the wheels allows for working more freely.
  4. Cover clean parts or spray with WD-40.
    The thing is, there are parts of the undercarriage that you shouldn’t wash. Still, water waste may get on them. So, spraying them with WD-40 is a solution.
  5. Rinse with a garden hose or a power washer.
    I see that the recommended choice here is a power washer. Rightly so, it cleans better but it also sprays more. If you know what you are doing, and you know exactly what the wash bay is, use a power washer. If you are a beginner, a garden hose with low water pressure will come in handy. Clean the important parts without spraying too much water.
  6. Apply a cleaning agent.
    Apply only on the undercarriage, not on the wheel, not on anything else. Preferably, you do this with the pressure spray of the power washer. Otherwise, you just spray with the bottle.
  7. Dry with a drying towel or a soft cloth.

Professional Undercarriage Wash

The best possible option is to take the car to an automatic car wash. Most of these offer different wash packages. So, make sure you go for “wash undercarriage”. Automatic car wash places are the safest option. A worker can’t exactly clean those hard-to-reach areas. But a machine can. The machines are designed for a precise wash with a good cleaning agent.

So, just go to any automatic car wash, make sure it’s a good one though. And, ask for an undercarriage wash.

My advice is to avoid cheap car washes. You can’t know how your car is being treated. Maybe they are using a bad cleaning agent. Maybe they just blow the pressure washer.

Related Questions And Other FAQs

Is It Safe To Power Wash Under Car

It’s safe to power wash the undercarriage of your car but nothing else. The only time you should power wash under the car is when you are cleaning the undercarriage. All cars are built differently, some crucial components are located under the car.

Can You Spray Water Under Your Car

Spray small amounts of water with a garden hose under your car is probably nothing dangerous. You can spray water and power wash on the undercarriage. Check with your car manuals, it all depends on the engine.

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