The impact of the prevailing drought is clearly visible, even in urban areas, with dead lawns and unwashed cars becoming a mark of pride…

It has also affected the auto industry, from dealerships to car washes, and individual car owners themselves.

“Cleanliness is actually an important part of car maintenance, but there are other surprising ways a drought can impact your driving experience,” says Jeff Osborne, Head of Gumtree Autos.

1. It could cause damage

Aside from sun damage from the pervasive hot and dry conditions, bird droppings, sea salt and dirt can damage the car’s condition. “Dirt can build up and acts like sandpaper, wearing down the paint. When it does rain, the water can mix with pollutants and scrape off the paint,” says Osborne.

2. It could affect the performance of your car – for the better!

Interestingly enough an engineer named Tom Wagner Jr claimed that washed cars are more fuel efficient – by 10%. Turns out, the opposite can be true too. When there is significant mud splatter on your car, it can actually reduce wind resistance (drag), like the dimples on a golf ball. The catch is that the dirt has to be evenly distributed. If it is randomly distributed, it can create more drag.

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3. It might cost you

A solid layer of dirt could hide a multitude of sins. “It’s much harder to notice parking lot scratches and minor bumps when a car is dirty,” says Osborne. “If not attended to, these scrapes can lead to rust, which can degrade the body of the car and even expose important parts.”

The lesson, Osborne says, is to use ethical alternatives to keep your car clean. “Car washes that use recycled water is an option, or any number of waterless washing solutions available at retail stores will work, but don’t let cleanliness slip. It could be detrimental in the long run.”