Keeping Your Car Clean

Did you know that a clean car runs better than one that is dirty? Well, maybe that’s really not true, but it certainly feels like it. Let’s review a few rules on keeping your car looking its best, with some tips from a professional car detailer. The first comment may be somewhat surprising, that you should read the owners manual for your car. Modern owners’ manuals often include specific information on the best types of car washes and polishes to keep your car looking its very best.

The first thing to do, any time your car gets any deposits from birds, mud, or other sources, is to simply rinse the car with water. Getting these things off of your car finish as soon as possible will keep the minimum amount of damage to the beautiful shiny finish. Most cars will come clean with plain water. If you don’t believe me, take it to a do-it-yourself car wash and simply use a nozzle on rinse. However, some contaminants require some soap to remove them, and so for maximum cleaning, use a soap designed for washing cars. Using dishwashing detergent will remove the old wax off of the car. (If you are applying new wax on the car, this may be a desirable option.)

The best place to wash the car is in the shade, whether it’s at your home or in one of the do-it-yourself car washes. The reason for this is that you do not want the water evaporating before it can wash away any contaminants on the surface of your car. If you are at a car wash, do not hold the pressurized wand directly at the surface, for it may scratch with pressurized particles being forced into the clear coat before they get washed away.

Make sure the car gets a thorough rinsing. One of the major drawbacks of do-it-yourself car washes is that most people do not take sufficient time to thoroughly rinse the entire surface of their car. Once the car has been thoroughly rinsed and is dry, you can apply additional products to keep your car’s finish beautiful.

A car polish will make your car glossier. A car wax protects the finish on your car from damage from the environment. A car care product may be a combination polish and wax, or it may be simply either a polish or a wax. You should apply at least a wax once every three months or so, and the process will take about two hours. The best method is to apply a polish or wax to the large flat surfaces first, as directed on the bottle. Once the product has been applied and is dry, use soft cloths to remove the excess product, turning the cloths frequently to minimize buildup.

The chrome on most modern cars is no longer metal, but rather plastic with a silvery finish. Do not use abrasive cleaners (or standard chrome cleaners) to polish these parts, but rather treat them like the rest of the car, with washing and wax. If you have a classic car with real chrome, you can use a chrome cleaner to remove any loose flakes or rust, and then apply chrome paint to protect it from future weathering.

Finally, give some attention to the windows and tires. Any standard window cleaner is fine for automotive glass, and should be used on both the inside and outside of the window. The tires should be cleaned and rinsed thoroughly with soap and water, and can be made shiny by using Armor All or other tire detailing product. Auto parts stores also sell black tire paint, for those wanting to make a real impression.