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Friday, June 22, 2012

Is The Stress Of A Clean Car Worth It?

If the average car owner spends an hour a week washing his car, then over 2600 hours over his fifty-year driving lifespan will be consumed simply in the act of washing a vehicle that is going to get dirty again anyway! That’s 108 days, or nearly one third of a year spent washing a machine. 
Although rainfall and snowfall frequency varies from region to region, consider that the state with the most clear days per year – Arizona – sees the sun only half the time: 193 days out of 365.  The average across the USA is slightly more than 110 clear days.   So, assuming moisture (dew, rain, snow, etc) occurs in 1 of 4 cloudy days, 40 days of the year will see precipitation.  In other words, every week that you wash your car, you are likely to see it get dirty as a result of precipitation.  Add in the number of muddy or dusty days, and your likelihood of having a clean car dirtied twice a week is enhanced.
Let’s now factor in the risk of accident, from outright collisions to door dings and minor scratches.  Over six million actual accidents are reported in the USA annually.  Nearly thirty times that number of very minor, non-reported incidents occur. There goes that clean car, again!
Now let us look at the benefit of a clean car.  Feeling of pride, right?  Being able to admire your efforts. But, for the most part, you are inside the vehicle, and it is others who gain the benefit of seeing a clean exterior of your vehicle.  Like owning a rich painting, there’s not a lot of pleasure derived if one must hide the painting in a closet.
The real issue, though, is the stress factor.  Washing and polishing your car may be a pleasure for you, but more likely is a chore.  While not stressful, there is hardly any stress relief occurring.  Now, each minute that you drive your car, you travel with the potential, and the worry about an accident, scrape or scratch on your baby. Every passing cloud offers the threat of mud and dirt.  Particularly in the minutes after cleaning your car, you fret about the next bit of dust, or the next stone chip.  This hardly seems relaxing, let alone therapeutic.
In total, your joy at having a clean car is offset, many times over with angst and stress over it getting dirty again, even though you know it to be inevitable.
What is not inevitable is putting yourself through the anguish of repetitive cleaning.
I owned an old 1977 Malibu, with nearly 220,000 miles on it when it was sideswiped by a newer Ford.  The passenger door was crumpled so badly that the door would not open.  It looked horrible.  However, on the inside, everything still looked fine.  For the next 80,000 miles, I drove the car without giving a second thought to its exterior.  I got plenty of stares, of course.  But inside, where the car was relatively clean and very comfortable, I did not experience a moment of stress over the car’s exterior looks.
The moral of this story?  How much time are you wasting in your life, creating stressful situations and enduring them, when you could simply reorient your priorities to minimize the stress?

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