Cleaning up your act

PUBLISHED: 07:57 27 January 2006 | UPDATED: 21:39 28 May 2010

CLEAN MACHINE: Make sure you keep your car clean. A dirty car could land you with a fine. And incorrect washing could also cost you money.

CLEAN MACHINE: Make sure you keep your car clean. A dirty car could land you with a fine. And incorrect washing could also cost you money.

MUCKY motorists who rarely clean their cars could be putting themselves at risk of a serious accident or falling foul of the law. In a recent survey of 200 motorists, conducted by the RAC Foundation, it was found that the traditional Sunday wash is now de

MUCKY motorists who rarely clean their cars could be putting themselves at risk of a serious accident or falling foul of the law.

In a recent survey of 200 motorists, conducted by the RAC Foundation, it was found that the traditional Sunday wash is now declining as Sunday shopping is increasing.

Many motorists don't clean their cars regularly, and others clean only the windscreen when visibility becomes dangerously obscured. Some claimed to never clean their cars at all.

While motorists will usually be encouraged to clean their vehicles if stopped by police, they can be issued with a fixed penalty notice and fine of £40 if their vehicle is filthy. Maximum penalty for having an unreadable number plate is £1,000.

Sixty per cent of drivers in the survey said they clean their cars at least once every two months. A further 28 per cent said that they would clean it once every three to four months. Two per cent owned up to never cleaning them. Ten per cent said they give their car a 'cursory clean' only when windscreen visibility was severely diminished.

In recent times, many people have invested in high pressure washers, which can force water into parts of the car and engine where water shouldn't be. Electrical connectors under the bonnet are highly protected by the manufacturer, but are not designed to withstand being blasted by these washers.

Typical faults which can develop can range from the car simply not starting after having been washed, to warning lights appearing on the dashboard, windscreen wipers operating when not expected to, or the car's lights not coming on at all.

The danger of using high pressure washers to wash the car does not stop at using them to clean the engine. They can also cause problems when cleaning the outside of the car. The high pressure can force water through seals into the boot or interior.

Today's cars are much more complex than 20 years ago when they simply had one computer to run them. Modern cars tend to have 40 or more computers, creating more possibilities for complex problems. High pressure power washers can force water into fuse boxes, relay boxes and connectors which can be found all over modern cars, and can cost hundreds of pounds to repair.

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