Car Wash

Car Washing Tips

I like to stop by and talk cars, or "bench race" as car

lingo goes, with friends as my father deal with
a garage and I learnt it from my childhood. Car enthusiasts wash their cars to keep them looking pristine, but also to help their cars
retain their showroom finish for maximum value at resale time. And the majority of other motorists can relate to that "value" factor -- it's a budget issue. Yet there's more to a truly clean car than what you can actually see. The underside of a car is where many cases of rust begin to erode body sheet metal. Road debris, mud and sand accumulate under fenders, on suspension components and on the under structure (chassis or "sub frame" hardware). When these foreign materials build up, they harbor the moisture for extra hours and even days beyond a rainy spell -- contributing to the development of rust. Now, I have heard more theories opinions on techniques and tips for car washing than I can remember. What I do remember is my own lesson with one of the worst things that you should never use when washing your car: household laundry detergent! Household detergents are too severe for automobile paint surfaces -- and that's one universal "don't" that I can pass along.

Keeping It Clean 

Tip #1 Use a Mild Commercial Car Wash Soap

Visit your new car dealer, an auto parts store or automotive department in a department store and you will find a variety of excellent car wash soaps. They cost only a few dollars and will deliver quality performance and peace of mind. Never use a kitchen or household liquid detergent to wash your car as these products can damage your car's paint finish.

Tip #2 Before the Wash, Check for "Pre-wash" Areas
Look closely at the paint for signs of road tar (especially in the lower body panel areas). Also look for dried bugs (again, especially on the front section of the car: leading edge of hood, body areas around headlights and air dam (if so equipped). You can find special solvents made especially for removing road tar at the same place you purchase your car wash soap. Dried bugs can be easily removed with a mixture of baking soda and water (be sure the baking soda is completely dissolved to ensure that it will not be abrasive). Remember that it's easiest to see and treat these "pre-wash" areas when the car is dry -- and since of these cleaning techniques remove surface wax, don't forget to re-wax the areas after the wash.

Tip #3 Wash Your Car in the Shade

As a first step, spray the body surface with water to soak the film of dirt, dust and grime that has accumulated on the paint finish. By leaving the water to soak for a minute or two, much of the dirt will easily float off the car when you go to sponge it clean.

While the top of the car is soaking, get beneath the car and rinse off the dirt, mud and debris from all of the underbody areas: inside fenders, above and below the exhaust system hardware, off of the underpin area, etc. Don't forget those potential dirt "hiding" spots behind bumpers, too.

Now with the car wash soap blended with cool water, use a large sponge or washing mitt to apply the mixture. Remember to rinse the sponge/mitt regularly to rid it of dirt the can accumulate and scratch the paint -- and also rub the sponge gently as you work the suds over the body surface. Work from the roof and windows down, hood to trunk and upper-to-lower sides. It's a good idea to give a quick scrub to the headlights and other light lenses while your on the front and back sections, too.

It's all downhill from here. Allowing the water to dry on the body paint surface will frequently leave a spotty film, as it's difficult to completely eliminate soap with just the spray rinse. So, It's best to use a large chamois to wipe down the entire paint surface -- wringing the chamois as you go -- so that no areas a are left to "air dry."