AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amid Central Texas’ ongoing drought and heat wave, any reprieve from rainstorms is far and few between. That also means your vehicle hasn’t received a free rinse-down, courtesy of Mother Nature.

But how bad is it if you seldom wash your car — or, even more extreme, never take it to the car wash or clean it yourself?

What happens if you never wash your vehicle?

According to online auto resource Carwash Country, any dirt or grim left on your vehicle is abrasive and can deteriorate the car’s clear coat over time. Once that clear coat has worn away, that can lead to rusting, pitting, fading and other impacts to the paint layer and sheet metal of the vehicle.

While older cars are already vulnerable to all these vehicles woes, not washing your vehicle can speed up the process and cause damages years before they might’ve happened naturally.

Going through a car wash helps remove dirt and grim on the vehicle, while waxes and sealants help protect your car’s clear coat — akin to how body lotion can protect a person’s skin from cracking, per Carwash Country.

Beyond damages to your vehicle, built-up dirt can also impair a driver’s safety. Improperly cleaned windshields, especially in the winter, can impact a driver’s visibility. That issue is only worsened in inclement weather conditions, such as driving through rain or a dense fog.

When DIY cleaning your car, Progressive recommended washing the vehicle’s wheels with a separate rag first and then replacing it, so as to not transfer that debris to the rest of the car. Once cleaned, you can then move to the body of the vehicle.

How regularly should you be washing your vehicle?

Washing your vehicle every two weeks is a safe rule of thumb, Progressive officials said. However, those who apply a coat of wax to their vehicle following a cleaning session might be able to get away with longer breaks in between, since it creates a barrier between your car’s exterior coat and the elements.

The interior of a vehicle should be cleaned more frequently, especially if you have children, eat in your car or spend excess time in your vehicle. A ceramic coating added to your seats can also help prevent stains from developing and dust from gathering, per Progressive.

Here in Texas, you definitely want to prioritize washing your vehicle in the morning so the direct sunlight and higher temperatures don’t immediately dry up and leave water spots and film behind, per Carwash Country.

More water conservation details are available online.