Time to enjoy the lengthening days, the warming temperatures, and the anticipation of summer fun. Time to open up the windows and doors of your house and let new life breeze in. It is time for spring cleaning. And, now that winter is over, it’s time to pay some much-needed attention to your car, to clean out the mud from the carpets, and wash off the salt and sludge.
Naturally, keeping your car clean is a part of routine maintenance. It should be done regularly, and it should be done carefully. Stubborn stains and damaged paint should are best left to the pros In fact, you can trust professionals to take care of the whole job – anything from hand washing and waxing to complete interior and exterior auto detailing.
But when it comes to general car cleaning, there are obviously things you can do yourself. That said, it is possible to cause damage to the paint and to interior surfaces if you don’t handle them with care. So, if you are going refresh your ride, there are some suggestions you might want to consider. Before you break out a hose and a bucket of suds, here are some dos and don’ts to help you avoid damage during cleaning.
When washing your car:
Do take your car to a quality and professionally maintained automatic car wash.
A professionan soft-brush (or soft-touch) automatic car wash that uses specially-formulated soaps and other products that are mild on your car. Having your car professionally washed means your vehicles’s wheels will be cleaned, the tires shined, the underbody sprayed, and sealants such as Amor All and Rain-X can be applied. You can trust the soft cloth mechanisms in a modern automatic wash as they are gentle to your vehicle’s paint finish. And more gentle than an ametuer with a dirty sponge.
Do bring and use your own professional tools and materials if you opt for a self-serve car wash.
This includes clean microfiber towels, quality car wash soap, and clean soft brushes. The convenience of a dedicated wash bay with clean water is a benefit, as long as you are not damaging the paint with a dirty brush and unknown chemicals. Be sure to point the pressure wand away from the car before you pull the trigger, and don’t get too close to the surface. Also, be careful when you release the trigger; the wand has a tendency to dive toward the car when you let go.
Don’t wipe the dust off of your car while it is dry.
Dust will create significant scratches in the clearcoat that may require sanding and polishing (or more) for removal.
Do rinse off any loose dust and debris.
Do this before you rub any wash mitt or cloth on the paint in order to remove the fine, sharp particles of dust from the surface.
Don’t use dish soap to clean your car.
Dish soap is a harsh detergent that can damage the clearcoat and strip off any protective coatings that have been applied.
Do sud up your car with a dedicated car wash soap that has been formulated for use on automotive paint surfaces.
Car wash soap has a neutral pH balance that is gentle on the clearcoat while it removes dirt and grime.
Don’t wash or wax your car in direct sunlight.
The heat of the sun will cause water spots that are very difficult to remove. If the water is high in minerals, the spots might become permanent. Wax and other sealants dry too quickly in the sun and are tough to remove.
Do look for a shaded area to bathe your car.
If you do not have access to shade (or if the only shade is a maple tree dripping sap in the spring), look for a coin-operated self-serve car wash (see above).
Don’t clean sap and other contaminants with abrasive cloths, steel wool, sandpaper, or your nails.
Each of these will scratch the clear coat and leave behind damage that needs to be professionally repaired. Even metal components such as tail pipe extensions, wheels, and running boards can be scratched with abrasives.
Do apply appropriate cleaner – degreaser, soap, etc. – for the type of contaminant.
Not all cleaners work for all contaminants or on all surfaces. Do your homework to find the product that works for the specific condition. A professional detailer is familiar with a number of cleaners that are designed for different types of contamination.
Don’t attempt to clean your car from a single wash bucket.
Each time you rinse your wash mitt in the bucket, you deposit dirt and debris that you just removed from the surface. When you reach back into the bucket for more soap suds, you also pick up that debris and put it back on the car.
Do use the two-bucket method.
Instead of a single bucket, many professionals will use one for the soapy water and another for clear water. Soak your wash mitt in the soapy bucket and wipe the car. Then, rinse off the mitt in the clear water to remove debris. Soak the mitt in soapy water again and repeat.
Do use a microfiber wash mitt or soft cloth instead.
Don’t use just any type of cloth.
Don’t rinse off the engine indiscriminately – especially with a pressure washer.
Today’s engines are far less susceptible to water intrusion and electrical problems than those of old. Nonetheless, it is still possible to cause problems if you blast the engine bay with water without regard for electrical components.
Do use plastic bags, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil.
These are to cover sensitive components such as the alternator and other electrical parts and wiring. Keep your distance if you are using a pressure washer rather than a garden hose.
Don’t use glass cleaner containing ammonia.
This could stain interior trim and the dashboard and damage window tint.
Do clean the glass with the right glass cleaner.
There are automotive glass cleaners designed for car windows.
Don’t scrub the interior headliner or use an abundance of fabric cleaner to remove spots or stains.
The delicate fibers of a headliner are easily damaged. And the adhesive that holds the fabric to the headliner panel can come undone if it gets too wet.
Do gently blot any spots or stains with a damp cloth.
Avoid getting it too wet. Better yet, like many detailing professionals, try to avoid the headliner altogether.
Don’t use chemicals and cleaners that you are unfamiliar with on your car.
One size does not fit all and a cleaner designed for one purpose can cause damage to another.
Do make sure you to use the right detailing products.
Do make sure you understand which detailing products are used safely for each component you are cleaning.
Keeping a vehicle clean in the cold months (any place where months get cold) can be a challenge. But now that you are able to get out and get cleaning, keep these tips in mind.
And if your vehicle is in need of a bit more TLC – if it has stains, spots, scratches, or blemishes that require advanced assistance – consider professional car detailing, where a trained detailer can take advantage of special tools, techniques, and materials to restore that “like new” appearance to your car and help you protect your investment.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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