Washing Cars in Winter (2/6/10 Show)

I can’t believe (oh wait, yes I can) that the guys did not suggest the following method of avoiding frozen door locks and latches after washing that has been working for me for decades up here in Vermont, where it gets a WHOLE lot colder than it does in Beantown. It’s really soooooo easy, and it works. First of all, it helps if you’ve maintained all your lock cylinders over the years by lubing them with a graphite lube like Lock-Ease. But even if you haven’t, simply get some WD-40 or an equivalent product and wipe down all the seals on the doors and the trunk. Shoot some into all the lock cylinders with the straw BEFORE going to the cars wash. Do the latches, too and, if there are any access holes in the door, shoot some around inside to try get some on the internal linkages. Remember, this stuff absolutely will NOT harm any electrical stuff like window motors, switches and wiring inside the door. Then, rub-a-dub-dub, make your winter filth encrusted ride all nice and shiny again, and after it’s out of the wash, repeat the procedure with the water displacement product of your choice. I have done this on days when the temperature was in the low teens or colder with no ill effects 99% of the time. In the rare instance when a lock might stick, just driving around long enough until a little cabin heat transferred through the door solved the problem. Hell, in winter, I PREFER to wash my car during a stretch of clear weather that stays well below freezing. That way I it doesn’t start to get filthy all over again as soon as I get back out on the street from the runoff of melting snowbanks. Remember, a clean car is a happy car. Not only does it look all purty, but it’s a safety deal too. You can see better through clean windows and at night with clean headlights, and all the other bozos out there can see your brake lights and directional signals a whole lot better if they’re not obscured by a thick layer of gray/brown crust!

WD 40 on rubber door seals ? There are many products that I would recommend before WD40… I won’t use this over recommended, over used product.
I believe WD-40 is a water displacing. It could dry out and damage rubber and plastic over time. Your best bet is to use silicone based product.
Do not use wd40 in lock cylinders as well. It will displace moisture but will dry hard.
It’s not a good long term lubricant and should be removed after use for cleaning of metal parts and replaced with something more suitable, for lubrication and rust prevention.

I’ve been using this method for over 25 years with NEVER any problem with seal deterioration or lock cylinders binding. The water displacement characteristic of WD-40 is PRECISELY why it keeps car wash water from freezing in lock cylinders. As I stated in my original post, I use a graphite lube as my primary lubricant in the locks once or twice a year. I should add that I use this “anti-freeze” method maybe two or three times a year and that I keep my cars for a LONG time, not trading every couple or three years. I am relating this only as my personal real world experience. Just curious: do you live in snow country or are just speaking from a purely theoretical viewpoint?

I too used graphite and graphite only. I live in north/central Maine on a mountain with an average snowfall that definitely puts it into the snow country. My negative view of wd40 comes from my training with firearms in the military and as a cop. WD40 is a good powder solvent but a poor lubricant and dries hard. I would NEVER use it in the inner workings of a gun (use break free) or gun oil or in a lock either. Could it be used to clean grease and dirt on rubber, sure, but I would treat it after. I have never heard that use recommended…If you have minimal sun exposure, you can get away with it…I’m not convinced or recommend it as the way to go. The chemistry works against it.

As an avid cyclist, though a good initial cleaning agent, I can say it attracts and holds dirt on chains and is poor lubricant and degrades tire sidewalls if not careful.

As far as your rubber gaskets, I bet they would be cleaner if you did nothing but wipe them down with a dedicated preservative as the wd40 residue may be adding to crud formation. And dirt, is an enemy to longevity.

Please No WD-40 In the lock. It can dry up and become a gummy sticky mess in the lock and prevent it from working. Use a product designed for locks, I strongly suggest graphite based products.

If you have a sticky lock due to using a common liquid lubricant, they you need to clean the lock first using a zero residue cleaner.

Locks (the part the key goes in) need to be very clean and free of any sticky residue to function properly. Graphite in either a suspension with a zero residue carrier like “Lockease” a brand name or just dry fine ground graphite.

Forget WD-40. It is a great solvent, but a poor lubricant.

Use any type of light oil in the locks and latches. I usually use Tri-Flow because I have it for my bicycles.

For door seals, there are a few products designed specifically for them. BMW has a product called Gummi-Pflege (some dealers have it). Also, Wurth makes a product called Rubber Care, Zymol makes a product called Seal, and I have also had good luck with 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Also, think about trying an alternative to the wash. Optimum Polymer Technologies makes a product called “No-Rinse Wash and Shine”. Instead of a soapy wash like most car wash products, it is a polymer with lubricant properties to coat and remove dirt. It only takes a few gallons of warm water and a few ounces of No Rinse (1oz:1gal). You wipe down the car, dry it with a good clean microfiber towel. Because there is no hose and no pressurized water, you don’t get water in locks and latches–thus, no freezing issues. I use it regularly in the Pittsburgh winters on my BMW.

Gummi-Pflege: http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?part=AS%206500&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=googlebase&utm_source=AS%206500
Rubber Care:http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?part=AS%206500&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=googlebase&utm_source=AS%206500
Seal: http://www.bavauto.com/fland.asp?part=AS%206500&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=googlebase&utm_source=AS%206500
Aerospace Protectant: http://www.autoality.com/store/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=127
No Rinse: http://www.autoality.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=80&idcategory=92

I know it might be a challenge, but consider actually reading my post this time. Second line in: “First of all, it helps if you’ve maintained all your lock cylinders over the years by lubing them with a graphite lube like Lock-Ease.” Jeezum! I repeat: I’ve been doing this for more than 25 years with no ill effects.

Do you actually do this outdoors in the winter? Sorry, the LAST thing I want to be doing is dipping my hand in a bucket of water, warm or not, when it’s 12F outside! Take my word for it: winters in Vermont are a little cooler than Pittsburgh! And I’m not using WD-40 as a solvent in this case but as a water displacer. That’s what the W and the D stand for. See the second line in my original post: “First of all, it helps if you’ve maintained all your lock cylinders over the years by lubing them with a graphite lube like Lock-Ease.” THAT’S my lock cylinder lube.
And my experience is that the one thing WD-40 is NOT is a very good solvent. For years, I’ve used a product called Chrysler Heat Riser Solvent and Lubricant which has graphite suspended in a truly vile smelling medium and now swear by PB Blaster, which smells just the same, but is minus the graphite. I refer to both products as “Acetylene Torch in a Can”!

Seems like you’re missing my point here. I’m not using WD-40 to clean my door gaskets, but to displace the water that inevitably gets in there during the wash BEFORE it freezes. And, I would suggest that the chain on your bicycle out there in the wind gets exposed to a whole lot more dirt that the inside of my lock cylinders. I would NEVER use WD as a primary lubricant on a bicycle chain!

P.S. I also never use the drive through or more modern brushless car washes. I"ve always patronized the type that use a hand wand.

“But even if you haven’t, simply get some WD-40 or an equivalent product and wipe down all the seals on the doors and the trunk.”

These are your words…and regardless of your original WD intent, unless you immediately wipe off the wd40, it stays, accumulates dirt, dries hard and like magic, you’ll see accumulated dirt next time that you have to remove with wd40 again…that’s my experience.

Oh, guilty as charged! Those are my words. A thousand lashes with a wet noodle! You wash your BMW indoors in a heated space in the winter, don’cha?!?!

I prepare for my winter washes in the fall, by ensuring that I have a good coat of wax. I then use those days when it gets into the upper 20s as wash days. I use the hand wands at the self-wash. I only spray off the salt and rinse, I do not use the brush. And I aim the spray at an angle as if the car were going down the highway. Panel overlaps are designed to prevent penetration in that direction, just as roof shingles are overlapped the way they are to prevent penetration when the water is running down rather than up. And I never aim the apray directly into the locks or seams.

It’s worked for me for decades.

Turtle Wax in the spray bottle is also good.