Keeping your car clean is easier than you think

by Jim KerrAuto Tech . Jul 13 2018
Garry Sowerby / Winnipeg Free PressKeeping your car clean and shiny will make it look like it’s brand new again.

Garry Sowerby / Winnipeg Free Press

Keeping your car clean and shiny will make it look like it’s brand new again.

Washing your vehicle is simple. All you do is add water and it is done. Add a warm sunny afternoon and the task almost becomes pleasant.

Keeping your car clean may not be as simple as just adding water, but it is something that most drivers are capable of, makes your ride look better, and gives you a chance to inspect the body carefully for signs of wear or damage.

Never wash your vehicle in direct sunlight. The heat from the sun will dry the water and soap on the surface as you are washing the car, leaving chemical spots on it. The sunlight also reflects through the water droplets in the same way the sun reflects through a magnifying glass. This can cause more “spots” to be burned into the surface paint. Wash your car on a cloudy day, under the shade of a tree, or inside a building to prevent these blemishes from appearing on your car.

The second rule of washing your vehicle is to use lots of water! You want to float the dirt off your vehicle. If you wipe the paint surfaces when only a little water is on them, you will probably be grinding dirt particles right into the paint. This causes scratches and swirl marks to show up on your clean car.

If you wash at a commercial car wash, avoid placing the wand nozzle close to the vehicle body. The pressure at the tip of a commercial car wash and can be high enough to strip paint from metal.

Instead, use it from a distance to wet the vehicle completely.

Wet the complete car down thoroughly from top to bottom before touching the surface. Then mix a mild liquid soap and water solution in a container and apply it liberally to the car with a soft cloth. Dish soaps will strip wax from your paint, so use a commercial wash solution available from automotive retailers to help protect your vehicle’s finish. Wash from the top down to avoid getting more dirt on the surface.

When rinsing the car, be sure to rinse completely under any mouldings, or chrome. If the rinse water appears dirty, keep rinsing. Dust and dirt tend to collect under mouldings and in the recesses of the car body. If this dirt is left there, it will hold moisture and becomes a place for rust to start forming.

You may notice black road tar stuck on the lower body. Use a tar remover to soften these spots and wipe them carefully. Often, dirt or sand is trapped in the tar, so if you use any force to remove the tar it scratches the paint. Several applications of tar remover may be necessary to remove them without using force.

Wiping the car body dry is the most common method of preventing water spots. Many owners use a chamois to dry their car. A chamois is made of soft leather from a sheep or deer and works well to dry a car. The leather quickly soaks up the water as it is wiped over the surface and then it can be wrung out to wipe again.

A chamois must be cared for if it is to last. After wiping the car, wash the chamois in clean water and then hang it to dry before storing it.

Instead of a chamois, microfibre towels are soft and as long as they are clean, they can dry the surface without leaving any swirls or scratches. Have several on hand and change them when one gets soaked.

If you see dirt on the cloth or drop it on the ground, set it aside, as you don’t what to rub dirt into that shiny paint and cause scratches.

When done, the microfibre towels can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer and be ready for the next car wash.

After washing it, you may want to wax your shiny clean car. Use only a non-abrasive wax and do only a small area at a time. Abrasive type waxes or cleaners are designed to remove the oxidization from the paint surface and are actually removing paint when they do this.

And never wax over freshly painted surfaces! The paint can take up to six months to cure completely. Wax would prevent the paint from curing properly.