The rough and rugged Jeep Wrangler, which bounds through all manner of terrain without a roof or doors, is an iconic American sight. Conquering the open trails is a messy business, though, and a Jeep that emerges from its adventures caked in mud is quite iconic, too.
That doesn’t necessarily mean mud is a good thing, though. While keeping a Jeep perfectly immaculate each day is a bit of a fool’s errand, spraying down a Jeep after a particularly muddy run is about preserving more than mere aesthetics. As cool as it may look to return to the roads with a battle-hardened exterior of caked-on mud, it’s bad to leave dried mud on your Jeep for long—if you plan to own it for long, at least. Here’s why.
Mud Is Hard on Paint
What’s tougher on a paint job than scrubbing it down? Easy: letting mud linger for too long. The pH level of mud can lean toward the acidic side. That means its chemical properties, alongside the water in it, can accelerate corrosion and damage your Jeep’s paint. Clay, salt, and other minerals in the earth can all make mud more destructive. By all means, you can take a moment to admire your Jeep in all its mud-coated glory. But don’t waste time letting that mud become situated, as it can quietly do damage.
Mud Can Damage the Undercarriage
While we can admit that a mud-splashed exterior is an eye-catching sight, not every instance of caked-on mud gets begrudging respect. Take your Jeep’s undercarriage, which can pick up just as much mud on a rainy, late-autumn off-road run as the rest of the vehicle. Here, there’s no glory in wearing the trails for days; there’s only damage. Mud can adhere to your axles, suspension, and the other sensitive parts of your Jeep. While it remains just out of sight, those same properties that speed up corrosion on your paint can damage the exposed undercarriage components even faster. Spraying down your Jeep from top to bottom should be the first step of your post-off-roading maintenance regimen.
What’s the Best Way to Clean It?
Is it bad to leave dried mud on your Jeep? Absolutely. Be careful, though. Improperly cleaning it can be even worse. First, waste no time in blasting the mud off your exterior, as time and sunlight can harden it to what may as well be cement. A low-end pressure washer that’s strong enough to take off the mud without abrading the paint could be your best bet. To get the sensitive, hard-to-reach spots under your Jeep without heading to a car wash, you may want to consider running your sprinkler beneath the Jeep. You should favor all-natural cleaning solvents over harder fare like ammonia. More caustic cleaning solutions could do damage to plastic parts, and damage, after all, is what you’re trying to avoid.