2014 BMW i3: Not Dirty for the Drought
June 26, 2015
There are photos of dirty cars here in California with the cutline, "Dirty for the drought." I thought of those photos when our 2014 BMW i3 was given to me covered in grime. I don't like dirty cars. But I also don't want to use a lot of water during this drought. I was in serious conflict.
Here's how I handled it.
Let me start by making a confession. I'm one of those weirdos that likes to wash cars. I think a lot of car guys feel the same way. But washing doesn't have to mean getting out the hose and running water over the whole car (although sure, you have to do that every once in a while). I've found that getting a microfiber towel wet, wringing it out, and then carefully removing the grime does a pretty good job.
Many of you might be cringing, imagining grit and grime scratching a pristine paint job. I looked into this a few years ago when so-called "water-less" car washing became popular. Turns out, the trick is to lightly remove the grime and turn the towel to use clean sections often. That way, there isn't a buildup of grime on the cloth that will scratch the paint or clear coat.
While cleaning the i3, I was reminded that most of the body panels are plastic. It gives under your hand when you run a wet microfiber towel over it. The dirt lifts off easily. Also, being a small car, there's a lot less surface area and you can do the job in about five minutes. You still have to clean the glass surfaces twice, however - once with the towel and once with window washer fluid and a paper towel.
When I was done, the BMW looked good again. Okay, I don't like the styling, but what I'm saying is that it was clean. And since I'd only used about a half of a gallon of water, my conscience was unscathed.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 6,345 miles