Spring Car Care

Washing a Car

This year’s harsh winter is now just a memory. With spring in full bloom, it is now time to start thinking about washing and waxing your car.

Did you know washing your car regularly removes surface contaminants before they attach or etch into the finish? It is best to use a car wash soap made specifically for washing cars. Do not use dish washing detergents. That’s because dish washing detergents can actually strip off protective wax leaving the painted surface of your car unprotected.

Washing a CarYou should avoid washing your car in the hot mid-day sun. Always wash from top to bottom and remember to rinse often. Soap that dries on the car’s surface can cause water spotting. It’s really not a good idea to use a sponge to wash your car. A sponge can actually trap small particles of dirt that can end up scratching the painted surface of your car. I would highly recommend using a good quality sheepskin mitt, which works much better than a sponge. You would also be smart to invest in a synthetic chamois or you can simply use a soft terry towel to dry your car.

Here are a few basic steps you can take to safely wash your car.

  1. Pour a couple of tablespoons of car wash soap on a sheepskin mitt and place it in a pail along with a nylon scrub brush. Fill the pail about half way full with water using a spray nozzle to create plenty of suds.
  2. Wet the entire car from top to bottom. Use the sheepskin mitt to gently wash the top, hood and rear deck of the vehicle and then rinse. Wash the sides, front and rear areas. Do not press or rub too aggressively on the surface of the vehicle during the wash process. Wash the lower side sections last. You may have to wash the front bumper, grill and headlights a second time just to make sure everything is completely clean. Rinse each section thoroughly after washing.
  3. To clean the tires, apply car wash soap directly onto a nylon scrub brush. Wet each tire and begin to scrub. Rinse and repeat as needed. This will help remove road dirt and brake dust, ensuring a better shine when tire treatment is applied. Rinse tires and wheels thoroughly after washing.
  4. Thoroughly dry the entire vehicle, starting with the windows and then working your way down from the top of the car to the sides.

If it’s been more than six months since your car was last polished and waxed, you will usually need to use a professional product such as a Cleaner Wax that’s safe for clear coat finishes. Cleaner Waxes help to safely remove fine scratches and swirls, light oxidation and the daily accumulation of contaminants that impact your car’s painted surface.

For a flawless wet-look shine, use a Deep Gloss Polish prior to waxing, such as a high quality Pure Polish or Show Car Glaze. Always follow up with a high quality Carnauba Wax or Polymer Wax. For dark colored cars, such as black, using a Pure Polish first usually makes a dramatic difference in depth of gloss.

How long does car wax last? The truth is every car is exposed to a host of environmental factors such as winter road salt, acid rain and the extreme ultraviolet rays of the summer sun. For maximum durability you will want to apply a Pure Carnauba Wax or Polymer Wax at least twice a year. Once in the spring and again in the fall is usually a good schedule for waxing your car.

Want to take your car up to the next level? Then you will want to consider either taking it to a professional detailer or doing it yourself. A complete car detailing usually includes the following.

  1. Wash by hand.
  2. Tire and wheel cleaning.
  3. Polishing and waxing painted surfaces.
  4. Cleaning, polishing and protecting chrome.
  5. Removing road tar.
  6. Applying interior leather and vinyl protectants.
  7. Applying exterior vinyl trim protectants.
  8. Cleaning and waxing door jambs.
  9. Cleaning and vacuuming upholstery, carpets and trunk.
  10. Cleaning windows and mirrors.

But wait, there’s just one more thing. Detailing your own car can take a lot of time. In order to get good results, you cannot be in a hurry. It’s much better to slow down and enjoy your ride!

Frank CannaFrank Canna has been in the automobile detailing business for 25 years and is the owner of Mirror Finish Detailing, Williamstown, NJ. He can be reached at canna@verizon.net or visit his website at mysite.verizon.net/canna Twitter; @MirrorFinish

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