With industry-wide improvements in overall quality, cars are far more reliable than they were even a decade ago. One way that you can affect your car’s value down the line is by keeping the exterior clean, waxed and corrosion free, ultimately repelling damaging water and pollutants. Maintaining your car’s exterior is something that we hope you’ll do intelligently and we are providing you with a few tips that will help you do that while it fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with ownership of such an investment. We also encourage you to consider the environment when washing your car and we will address that in a bit.
Products – It’s imperative that you clean your car with products sold explicitly for cars because household cleaners can strip the wax from the paint and damage the finish, potentially invalidating any warranties on paint finish that you may have on your car. Using inappropriate products will also make your car more vulnerable to corrosion. Auto-specific products are usually gentle on your car’s rubber, vinyl, and plastic components as well!
Washing – Simply washing your car removes a number of things not limited to: dead bugs, brake dust, salt, airborne industrial pollutants, tree sap and bird droppings, all of which can degrade the paint. Modern car finishes are covered with a clear coat that has a UV-resistant layer to protect the pigmented main layer of the paint.
- You will definitely want to steer clear of automatic car washes that use the same brushes over and over. Those brushes are embedded with dirt and grime from everyone who proceeded you and have great potential to not only not do the job insufficiently, but cause great harm to your car’s finish.
- As you wash, it is important to look for any dents, dings, scratches or cracked glass so you can contend with them promptly. As you can imagine, these problems, when left unattended, can lead to more expensive repairs down the line.
- Start your project with your car out of direct sunlight. Spray the car with ample amounts of water prior to washing so that you spray off dirt and other contaminants that may scratch the car if you immediately start using a sponge and water first. Include in the initial rinsing your wheels and inside the fenders. Wash from top to bottom and do so in sections, being sure to rinse off the soap long before it dries. Odd as it may seem initially, always clean the tires and wheels prior to washing the body. You’ll need to use separate mitts or cloths because you can risk damaging your vehicle’s paint with debris commonly found on the lower extremity of the car. Absolutely read the manufacturer’s directions on any car care product you choose prior to use.
- We also suggest that you regularly clean the leaves and other debris from the areas below the windshield and the water channels under the hood and trunk, as the leaves block the water drains and collect moisture, speed up the corrosion process and cause a damp smell inside your car.
Drying – Never skip drying your entire vehicle after you’ve washed it. This will prevent water spots which are mineral deposits that actually etch the outline of a drop of water into your vehicle’s paint. You’re advised to use either 100% cotton cloths or sheepskin chamois for the drying process because polyester and/or microfiber products can also scratch the paint surface. There are a number of very absorbent, lint-free drying products on the market that may appeal to you.
Clay Bars – If after carefully washing and drying your car, you are still faced with contaminants, there are a host of further solutions. You may use clay bars which in effect “pull” impurities off the surface without abrasion. Bear in mind that this detailing clay is not designed to remove paint scratches or swirl marks; there are other methods and products for that. If heavy tar or insect deposits still exist after washing, there are specialty solvents available.
Waxing – The next crucial step for your car is whether to wax. If it’s been a while, it will be apparent but look at waxing as a critical step in sealing off your car from the damages of the environment. Waxing is the easiest way to get your car looking glossy and new. It also protects against the airborne contaminants by creating a barrier between your paint and the rest of the world allowing all the risky things to embed in the wax prior to reaching your car! Waxing makes washing much easier by making the paint surface smooth, reducing friction between debris and your car. While wax will not remove scratches from your car, it can fill in the minor scratches and make all scratches look less evident. Synthetic paint sealants are the best option but also the most costly.
Water Pressure – We also recommend that if you tend to wash your car at home simply with a hose, that you once in a while take it to a self-service car wash station. The pressure at these washes removes dirt from difficult to reach areas though you don’t want to ever hold the wash jet too close to painted surfaces as it can peel off loose paint. Use it to go under bumpers, behind moldings, inside wheel arches, and anywhere where dirt and salt could sneakily accumulate.
Keep It Green, Please – From an environmental standpoint, washing your car at a self-service car wash makes a lot of sense though everyone agrees that washing it in the driveway is good fun. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the wash water can easily flow into storm water drains and enter surface water sources untreated, and the wash water contains many of harmful contaminants. Some of this could be rectified by washing on grass or dirt which screens out some of the harm but you’re still paying for water and products. Professional/coin car washes are mandated to use water safely and efficiently (The Clean Water Act, etc.).
We hope you enjoyed this post. If there is anything else we can do to help you feel free to call us at (805) 466-2446 (Atascadero) or (805) 239-8752 (Paso Robles). And be sure to stay connected with us on Facebook as well!