Car Care #1: The Exterior: Keeping the Shine



Salt and grime appear as a mask, camouflaging our vehicles from their native color and shine. However, one means to rejuvenate a vehicle from winter’s impact is a well-needed wash and shampoo. One of the many options available, especially as we enter a season of warmer temperatures, is to consider a car wash. You may discover that hand washing your car will provide a detailed understanding of every aspect of your “ride.”

Inspection: Whether your darlin’ beauty is vintage, rugged, a transport between work and home, or the family vehicle, every car demands different care. After rinsing thoroughly, light scratches, and swirls are noticeable. This is the perfect time to run your hand over the surface to check for small bumps or inspect for deep scratches or rust spots. Do not wait –take care of imperfections or problems immediately. Often, surface issues can be resolved with minimal time and expense.

The Right Tools:

We would never use an abrasive tool to wash our body or we would end up with scratches. Washing a car with the wrong tool can result in the same effect if we look closely. With this idea in mind, embrace materials that are soft and comforting, such as sponges, terry cloth or microfiber towels, cheesecloth, and cloth diapers. In addition, due to the varying types of chemicals, it is important to separate the towels used on your paint, wheels, and windows during use. Afterward, wash your towels and mitts in hot water to ensure all material is cleaned and ready for the next use.

  • Soap: A do-it-yourself car wash is the best means to clean a vehicle. While saving money, you are also in full control of the material and ingredients that are applied to the surface of your car. While household agents such as soap and dishwashing detergent have a purpose for cleaning, do not use these particular products on your car. They are not formulated to protect a car’s paint. In fact, it may strip off the protective wax and affect the paint and shine. In using a car-wash product, you are guaranteed a soap that is both milder and specifically designed for use on automotive paint; therefore, it is important to read all labels. (The ingredients can vary between brands and vehicles.)
  • Commercial Power Washing: One of the most beneficial ways to remove dirt and grime is to use a low force wash. Commercial power washing is beneficial as long as you maintain a distance between the surface of the car and the powered jet. A strong pressure can create small, shallow dings in the surface or damage the paint. If you own a power washer, chose a low setting jet to apply to your car.
  • Polish: While a good body wash is a wonderful start to care, we often take it one step further by applying a moisturizer to our skin. Polish acts with the same purpose. The conditioning oil will add depth to the color and enhance the shine, prior to the application of wax. (If you have a dark-hued vehicle, the polish is clearly visible, offering a maximum gloss in appearance.) Keep in mind, ingredients truly make a difference. Depending on the type of paint used on your vehicle, it may react to your polish, and result in scratches or stripping the car from its original shine. Be sure to read the label first, and begin with a small area prior to use on the entire vehicle.
  • Wax: Before our bodies go out into the sun, a layer of sunscreen is needed. Wax, similarly, adds a layer of protection against UV rays and fading paint, and protects the layer of polish. Professionals have compared the two types of wax – carnauba and polymer – to a regular and synthetic engine oil. The polymer, despite being more expensive, is easier to use, and believed to result in a higher quality.   It’s a good feeling to stand back and admire the radiant beauty of your vehicle, and know she is well protected, no matter the season or temperature!

Next Month: Part 2: Bumpers and Tires

 


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