Do you think you’ve noticed that your cars run better or more smoothly each time you give them a good wash or run them through an automatic car wash? You’re not crazy to think that a clean car runs better, and you’re definitely not alone. Many drivers claim to have seen this phenomenon in action, and you’ll find entire online discussion threads about it.

Do Cars Run Better After a Car Wash?

We know you’re desperate to hear whether cars really do run better after a car wash, however, the answer is more complex than you might think. “Not really, but maybe,” is the best we’ve got.

Why You Think Your Car Runs Better After a Car Wash

Did you just drive 50 miles through the mud? Would saying your car is dirty be the understatement of the century? In that case, your vehicle has accumulated lots of mud and debris, and it may make a rattling sound as you keep driving. All-terrain driving in a non-all-terrain vehicle is generally a bad idea, and you can bet that your car will run more smoothly once your dirty car is cleaned.

If, on the other hand, you think your car runs better after a routine car wash, it’s probably all in your head. Knowing that you’ve just given your vehicle and little TLC, you may notice that the driving experience has also improved. Your car doesn’t actually run better, but you’re having more fun driving it — and that feels good.

Clean the Interior, Too!

Don’t stop there. If, after running your car through the automatic car wash or hand-washing your vehicle, you’re still left with a cluttered and dirty interior, it’s time to take action!

People tend to tidy and clean their vehicle interiors much less often than their homes, but most people snack in the car at least occasionally. That nasty set of facts explains why more than half of American cars harbor E. Coli, which has the potential to make you very sick.

What’s more, a cluttered car interior can distract you from the road. If you spend lots of time in your vehicle, all that clutter can slowly grind you down. Once it gets to the stage where dust starts building up, a dirty and cluttered car can even affect your breathing and increase your odds of developing allergies.

Think your car runs better after a wash? Try tackling the interior next, and see if you get the same feel.

If your answer is, “wow, yes!” the same mechanism is at work. Your car doesn’t run better — but you do, and that’s why you think your vehicle is performing better, too.

Car Wash: Does it Make Your Car Run Better?

A car wash might make your car run a tiny bit better if it was extremely dirty before the wash. Otherwise, chances are that washing your car simply made you feel better about yourself, your day, or the appearance of your car. Your car looks better and is more of a pleasure to drive, improving your subjective experience of its performance.

The good news? The placebo effect still works if you know it’s a placebo. So keep enjoying that clean car!

Dave & Rays Automotive Repair Shop in Omaha, NE

Our team has learned one thing: automotive problems are as varied and unique as the customers who bring them to us. Fortunately, our decades of experience in auto service and repair also mean that our skilled network of professionals is ready to accommodate an impressive scope of automotive issues. Contact us today.

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