Frequent washing is the best way to maintain a new-car finish. Winter and spring can be the hardest on your vehicle’s paint because of all the salt on the road, and salt becomes more active as the temperature rises. As simple as washing your car may seem, there are some things to watch for so that you don’t accidentally scratch or degrade the finish. We are including some basic car-washing tips.
Dead bugs, bird droppings, and chemicals from the atmosphere all leach acids that can strip away wax and eventually eat into your car’s paint. If left too long, they can cause damage that requires sanding and repainting the area to correct. Wash off dead bugs, bird droppings, and other debris as soon as possible. It is a good idea to wash your car following a road trip on a summer night, as this is when there are many bugs in the air. As mentioned earlier, salt is particularly damaging to your car’s exterior. It is not important to wash your vehicle when it is -380C, as it is too cold for salt to be active. But if you park in a heated garage in the winter or if there is a warm spell your car should be washed to remove the salt. Other than this, a weekly car wash will keep the finish in its best shape.
Use a dedicated car-wash product, which is milder than household cleaning agents and specifically designed for use on automotive paint. Apply the suds with a large, soft natural sponge or a lamb’s-wool mitt. Harsh household cleaning agents may strip off the protective wax on your car’s paint.
Grease, rubber, and road-tar deposits picked up from the road often accumulate around the wheel wells and along the lower edge of the body. These can be stubborn to remove and may require a stronger product, such as a bug-and-tar remover. Use a separate, soft, nonabrasive cloth to remove these deposits.
Also, use a separate sponge to clean the wheels and tires, which may be coated with sand, brake dust, and other debris that could mar the car’s finish. Mild soap and water may work here; if not, a dedicated wheel cleaner may be required. Be sure the cleaner is compatible with the type of finish (paint, clear-coat, chrome, etc.) used on the wheels. A strong formula intended for mag wheels, for instance, can damage the clear coat that’s used on the wheels that come on today’s cars. To be on the safe side, choose a cleaner that’s labeled as safe for use on all wheels.
You should wash your vehicle in the shade and when the vehicle body is cool (so, not immediately after driving). Heat speeds the drying of soap and water, making washing more difficult and increasing the chances that spots or deposits will form. Rinse all surfaces thoroughly with water before you begin washing to remove loose dirt and debris that could cause scratching. Once you begin, concentrate on one section at a time, washing and rinsing each area completely before moving on to the next one. This ensures that you have plenty of time to rinse before the soap dries. Start at the top, and then work your way around the car. Dry your vehicle using a chamois (natural or synthetic) or soft terry towels.
Washing your vehicle not only keeps it clean, it also protects your investment.