Have you noticed the air getting crisper, and the sunset arriving a bit earlier every day? Winter is on the horizon – and with it, harsher weather conditions that can take a toll on your car’s appearance.

If you’re like most people, you probably consider your car an extension of the family. A recent International Carwash Association (ICA) survey shows that 84 percent of Americans feel an emotional connection with their cars. It’s not enough to love your car in theory, however – you need to make it real by incorporating professional car washes into your maintenance routine.

Financial benefits

There’s significant financial value to getting your cars washed, waxed and detailed professionally – especially during winter, when most interior and exterior damage is likely to occur. According to auto trade-in experts such as Kelley Blue Book, cars in excellent condition and appearance can be valued as much as $1,500 higher than those in good or fair condition.

Your car’s appearance needs extra attention during the colder months because salt, mud, and road grime are more likely to accumulate on your vehicle. Watch out in particular for salt. It’s highly corrosive and by far the biggest car culprit, affecting a vast majority of all automobiles in the United States. Why? Because wherever there’s snow, there’s road salt.

Road de-icing materials can cause great damage to cars. In fact, road salt is estimated to cause billions of dollars in damage to American automobiles. But salt can even be airborne in coastal regions, so warm weather drivers beware: your cars are also at risk.

“Most car owners understand the value of changing motor oil regularly to protect the engine,” said ICA Executive Director Mark Thorsby. “However, a car with oxidized paint and rusted body can never be economically restored. The best way to prevent that is regular washing and waxing at a professional car wash.”

Emotional satisfaction – and great gift ideas

Another benefit of professional car washes: they save time, making you feel refreshed and more organized. As gift-buying season and social gatherings make your “to do” list grow longer, swing by a full service car wash while running errands on the weekends. Or, choose to fill up on gas at a station that offers car-washing options.

Because professional car washes provide “spa services” for your car, they also make unique gift ideas for your friends, colleagues and family. Who wouldn’t appreciate a full service car wash, wax or detail for the holidays?

Better for the Environment

Most people don’t realize that do-it-yourself car washes at home can use up to twice as much water than professional car washes, many of which reclaim water for future use. Professional car washes also send dirty water – laden with soap, tar and road grime – to water treatment facilities. To the contrary, dirty water from at-home washes run into sewers, which may eventually pollute rivers, lakes and streams. Without a doubt, washing your car during the winter is important, and making smart choices as to how is key.

Congratulations if you’re among the astute group of car owners who take winterizing steps by checking your car’s oil, brakes and anti-freeze. But that’s just part of what your car requires this winter. They also need professional car washes at least once or twice a month to keep them in top condition. If you show your car this kind of love, you’ll not only be making a wiser environmental choice, but you’ll also reap financial and emotional benefits in the long run.

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