Taking good care of your car is worth it. Regular washing and detailing not only makes it nicer to spend time in, it can boost the car’s resale value by thousands of dollars down the road. But doing it right isn’t always so straightforward. Even if you’re just washing it, you can do more harm than good if you use the wrong stuff or don’t know what to look out for.<br>
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Most people that a wash and wax is the best way to keep their car shiny and clean. Their heart is in the right place, but there is much more to washing a car than those two things. We spent a day with Mike Pennington and Rick McDonough of Meguiars, who demonstrated the proper way to wash your car and maintain a clean exterior.
Evaluating the condition of your vehicle will steer you towards how it should be cleaned. A new car or one that already has a good coat of wax on it, may only need a wash and wax to maintain it, but a car with an average to neglected exterior may need to be clean and polished as well.
Before using any type of car cleaning chemical, it is important to read the label. The application for soap, wax, or detailer can vary from brand to brand and vehicle to vehicle. For example, using a chrome wheel cleaner which is extremely acidic on an aluminum wheel can ruin it. Also invest in premium microfiber clothes and keep separate piles for those used on your paint, wheels, and windows. Wash your towels and cleaning mitts after every use.
Washing your car will remove loose contaminants such as dust, dirt, and mud from the exterior of your vehicle. Always use a car washing soap and not a liquid detergent or dish cleaner, which can damage the paint and strip away wax. Rinse your car first to remove larger pieces of dirt which can scratch your car when washing, and use clean mitts and drying cloths.
After washing you can easily see scratches, swirls, and oxidation in your paint and feel for bonded contaminants such as overspray or tree sap that washing doesn't remove. Just run your hand over a washed vehicle, and if you can feel little bumps, then you need to go a step further with cleaning your car.