Winter Ice Clean Up (copy)

Motorist line up at the Water Works Car Wash on Dorchester Road in January to wash their vehicles from all the sand and salt from the winter storm. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

I’ve never owned a brand new car. Every vehicle had already belonged to somebody else. Some were very fast, others were stylish. A few were sporty and some were classy. A couple were gas guzzlers and two or three others were convertibles.

Though none of them were fresh off the showroom floor, I did try to do one thing to them all: keep’em clean.

A clean car doesn’t go faster or use less oil or gas, but if the car looks good, I feel good.

Recently, while attempting to get $2 worth of quarters from a cashier to wash my car, she admitted to me that she’d owned a car for two years and had never washed it. I told her I tried to wash my car every 10 days or so. She handed me my eight quarters and clearly believed I was from some bizarre-o-world full of soap suds and chamois cloths.

Since we’re on the subject. Has anybody noticed how long the lines have been in recent weeks at the various car wash businesses around town? People have waited more than an hour at various automated and self-service car washes.

Dirty cars, going back to January, was courtesy of the snow, ice and salt that sullied our various vehicles. Before February was over, pollen paid a visit. The car wash business is off to a banner year.

Perhaps many folks are so conditioned to sitting in traffic these days that another 45 minutes sitting in the car wash line feels like just another commute to work or trip to the grocery store.

From top to bottom

I recently opted to wash my car at a self-service stall. The lines at three other automated businesses were just too long. I’d do it the old-fashioned way by supplying my own elbow grease to the brushes and wands designed for the job.

Here’s the problem ... at the coin fed wash bays, you just don’t always know how long four quarters will last. You also can’t be sure how much dirt, sand or grunge might remain on the brush that was used by the last guy.

Before we go much farther, let me answer the obvious question. No, it’s not possible to wet the car, wrestle the soapy brush, wash and rinse front to back and top to bottom for $1. So grab those extra quarters from the cup holder in the console to have as backups.

Why? Because the machine that makes change, more times than not, doesn’t.

It all sounds like a lovely way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, right?

Wash 'n' dry

When it’s all said and done, I still look at the entire exercise as therapy. I probably self-wash my car once a month and take a drive through the automated businesses two or three times beyond that. Even then I enjoy the repartee with the guys drying the car and spraying the cherry scent onto the floor mats.

As you stand by your shiny, clean car, there’s a feeling of pride. The sky is bluer and the sun is brighter.

I’ll wash the car in the driveway from time to time, but that’s a bit wasteful and environmentally distasteful. Most of the time I just handle the detail work: shine the tires, vacuum the floorboard, wipe the dashboard.

Snow, black ice, yellow pollen … our vehicles have been through a lot in just the first two months of this new year.

Who knows what March bright bring us. Even if our freezing temps are gone, we can usually expect the love bugs to pay a visit in the coming weeks.

On those days when the world is right again, I’ll be itching to clean my car. It just makes me feel better.

Reach Warren Peper at

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