Why Your Car Has Engine Problems After Being Washed

Every day, people across the country get their cars washed, and nothing bad happens. However, if you've ever had your car washed and then noticed that your engine is sluggish, making strange noises, or the check engine light comes on, you're not alone. Unfortunately, while most cars can safely go through car washes without a problem, there are times where your engine can be damaged by a car wash. This guide will explain what might be going on with your engine, and what you can do to fix the problem and prevent it in the future.

A Little Water is Generally Safe For Engines

Car manufacturers know that people want to be able to drive their cars in all kinds of environments, whether it's raining, snowing, or hailing. Since these are all possibilities, engines are designed to withstand exposure to water, providing your engine isn't caught in floodwater or otherwise submerged. In fact, some people even wash their engines to clear away debris and the grunge that accumulates from exhaust. However, cars don't have an airtight seal protecting the engine from anything getting in, so there are times where even a little water can harm the engine.

What Might Be Causing The Problem

A little water generally won't hurt your engine, but there are a few ways that it can. Exposed wires, circuits, or spark plugs that are exposed to water can develop shorts, misfire, or completely fry, leaving your engine in bad shape or even non-functional. If your check engine light is on, consult with your manual to find out what the signal means. For example, a blinking light might indicate that there's a major engine misfire, whereas a solid light means that there's a more minor problem occurring.

What To Do

If your car is acting up after going through a car wash, you must get to a mechanic immediately. Continuing to drive your car for extended periods of time while the engine misfires, or electrical wiring is shorting can cause serious damage to your engine and car. By getting to a mechanic sooner rather than later, you may be able to prevent a large bill for serious mechanical failures.

Prevention in the Future

Thankfully, your mechanic will not only fix the damage, but also make sure that everything is properly closed up to protect the sensitive components of the engine from water damage. However, if you really want to be sure that you don't have this problem in the future, consider avoiding commercial, automated car washes. Instead, wash your car by hand, and take special care to avoid getting water under the hood. You can hire someone to wash your car, but take it to a professional where the engine won't be running while it's cleaned. If there are exposed parts, allowing the moisture to evaporate before turning on the engine may prevent damage.

Cars are designed so that something as simple and commonplace as a car wash doesn't damage the engine, but sometimes it happens anyway. If your engine shows signs of having a problem after your car is washed, go to a mechanic right away.