How to Clean Your Exterior

 

For many vehicle owners, washing your car can be enjoyable.  That's good, because frequent washing and proper paint preparation is one of the best ways to maintain a new-car finish. But, as simple as washing your car may seem, there are some things to watch for so that you don't accidentally scratch or mar the finish.  The good habits you form will keep mishaps from happening.

What Kind of Products Should I Use?

 

Never use household cleaners like dish washing detergent, dish soap or glass cleaner on the paint. These aren't formulated for use on a car's paint and may strip off the protective wax. 

Always use a dedicated car wash product, which is milder and specifically designed for use on automotive paint.

 

Apply the suds with a large, soft natural sponge or a soft wash mitt.

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 tar remover. Use a tar removal pad to remove these deposits.

There are products to aid in the removal of tree sap and bug debris.  Tree Sap Remover and a soft towel can be used to lightly loosen the tree sap allowing the towel to pick up the residue.  Carefully scrub, making sure you are not pressing hard as you may create micro abrasions or swirls.  For bugs, use a Bug Remover and a do all pad.  On a cool surface, out of the direct sunlight, spray Bug Remover onto the affected area.  Let stand for 2-4 minutes to set up.  Scrub lightly with do all pad.  Rinse off chemical before washing. 

 

Always use a separate sponge or brush 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.

 

Precautions When Washing a Car?

 

Never wash your car when the body is hot, such as immediately after driving it or after it has been parked in direct sunlight for awhile. Heat speeds the drying of soap and water, making washing more difficult and increasing the chances that spots or deposits will form.

Never move the sponge or wash mitt in circles. This can create light, but noticeable scratches called swirl marks. Instead, move the sponge lengthwise across the hood and other body panels. And don't continue using a sponge that's dropped on the ground without thoroughly rinsing it out. The sponge can pick up dirt particles that can scratch the paint.

 

Always 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. 

Always work the car-wash solution into a lather with plenty of suds that provide lots of lubrication on the paint surface. And rinse the sponge often. Using a separate bucket to rinse the sponge keeps dirt from getting mixed into the sudsy wash water.  A Bucket Grate is highly recommended here as it allows the sediment to fall to the bottom of the wash bucket and keeps your sponge or mitt a few inches above it all

 

How Should I Dry my Car?

 

Never let the car air dry, and don't expect a drive around the block to do an effective job. Typically, it will leave water spots caused by minerals in hard water.

Never use an abrasive towel or other material that can leave hairline scratches in the paint (This means old bath or beach towels)

Always use a chamois (natural or synthetic). It's best to blot the water up instead of dragging the towel or chamois over the paint. The drying process can be speeded up by using a soft squeegee to remove most of the water on the body, but be sure the rubber is pliable and that it doesn't pick up bits of dirt that can cause scratches. Often times I swipe my fingers across the blade of the squeegee to insure it is debris free.