Your car is a significant investment, one you should be proud to show off. Keeping your car properly maintained extends beyond regular tune-ups and oil changes; it means keeping it clean inside and out as well. Whether you’re washing the car for a drive during the summer or preparing it for winter storage, we all share the same passion for keeping our pride and joy sparkling clean.
We’ve discussed why exterior cleaning is necessary at length (see Why You Need to Wash You Car) and now we want to share technique tips.
Always try to work in the shade. This way you avoid water spots and you will be better able to see detail in the paintwork to find any flaws. Once you are finished with the washing process be sure to use the right materials to detail and dry the car.
The best towels to use are waffle and micro fiber. Use waffle towels to remove water from the surface of your paint. They absorb quickly. Then use micro fiber towels to detail. Never use the same towel for two different jobs – instead, get several towels in different colors. Use one color for the paint, one for the glass, and another for the trim. Be sure to wash them separately as well. You don’t want wax to end up on the towels you use for glass.
Use a clay bar to remove contaminants from the clear coat. These bars are available in different strengths. Since we are talking about your paint here, start with the weakest strength and move up if necessary. Never use one of these on a dry car, there must be lubrication otherwise you will damage the paint. Put moderate pressure on the bar and rub in straight lines along the surface. You will be able to feel the bar pulling small contaminants from the paint. You will see the clay bar change colors as it begins to remove dirt from the car.
Polishing your vehicle is what will make it really stand out. All vehicle clear coat surfaces will have small imperfections in them, like cracks, scratches, and swirl marks. Even cleaning and clay baring your car’s surface will leave micro scratches in the clear coat. The washing and clay bar get the dirt off allowing the light to pass through, the polish removes the cracks and scratches allowing it to reflect straight back out. Most people think that the wax makes a car shine, and while a wax will add some luster to the look of a car, its primary job is to protect the paint and clear coat from the elements.
Once you have washed and polished your car and you’re feeling pretty spectacular about its looks, you need to protect it. There are basically two ways to protect your paint and clear coat -waxes and sealants. Both will protect your car’s surfaces from the elements. Some people prefer waxes because they are a natural product and can give a warmer and richer shine. Others prefer sealants because they are synthetics and can be custom blended for different car colors and looks. Sealant will protect the car a lot longer than a wax will.