Our vehicles are an investment and should be treated as such. Bringing your car down to the local drive through car wash is like going to get a haircut at a barber school. The results will be terrible. Saving a few bucks is not worth the long term damage and ridicule.
Running your car through an automatic car wash is never a good idea. The brushes are harsh, the detergents used will strip any wax on the vehicle, and you’ll be left with micro scratches in your clear coat. The dirt from the vehicle that was “washed” before you will stick to the brushes and will now scratch your paint. “Hand only” washes aren’t much better, they reuse the same wash mits over and over again. There is a reason that car washes are so inexpensive, they use sub par products and entry level (at best) labor.
We will discuss tips and tricks as well as a few proper procedures to make sure your car looks its best.
1. Evaluate what needs to be done.
There may be certain things that need more attention than others. Take 10 minutes to properly look over the interior and exterior and focus on what needs to be done. If your interior is fairly clean you may just need to do a quick wipe down and vacuum. If your paint is full of micro scratches and holograms then most of your time should be used for polishing.
2. Tackle the interior first.
We recommend starting off with the interior as it’s usually quicker and won’t tire you out. Take out all of your mats and wipe down any dust and dirty areas. Harsh cleaners aren’t needed if there is no build up. Always spray on the microfiber towel you will be using and not on the surface itself. Once you have wiped everything down you can vacuum or shampoo your rugs. Leather treatments should be applied last.
3. Clean your air ducts.
If you have a bad smell coming from your air conditioning or heat then you should first and foremost change your cabin filter. While you’re in there feel free to spray some Lysol into the duct and turn your heat on. Let it circulate for a bit and reinstall your new filter. Your car should smell much better now that the Lysol did its job.
4. Tire and wheel cleaning.
Before washing your car you should clean the wheels and tires. Why? Because they will most likely be the most dirty part of your car. Start with a simple all purpose or rubber cleaner on the tires. Make sure it’s meant for wheels as you don’t want to use a harsh cleaner that will ruin the finish of your wheels. Scrub the tires down after letting the product soak in and rinse. As far as wheels are concerned there are many products that will remove iron and brake dust deposits safely. Lots of new products will turn purple as it loosens metallic particles from your wheels. Use a soft brush to agitate the wheels and rinse off.
5. Make sure your paint is clean.
Feel your paint with your hand and make sure it’s smooth. If it feels rough we recommend using a clay bar on the entire car or tackle the worse spots. Clay bars will remove particles that adhere to the paint that common soaps will not remove. Once the paint is nice and smooth it’s time for a wash.
6. Once your paint is clean it’s time to wash the car.
DO NOT USE DISH SOAP. Dish soap is used to strip grease from your plates and forks, it will also strip your paint and dry rubber pieces. Dish soap should ONLY be used if you’re goal is to completely strip any existing wax. We recommend using a high quality car wash soap which will leave your paint “moisturized” and slick. Start at the top of the car and work your way down. We also recommend using a two bucket system, one with clean water and soap and the other one to rinse the wash mitt from the dirt that you are washing off.
One of the most important parts of a car wash. If you have access to compressed air, use it. Every time you rub something on your paint you’re etching small scratches into your paint. Use a soft and dedicated microfiber drying towel and lay it on the paint. Let it absorb what it can and move on to the next area. Once you’re done go over any areas that still have signs of moisture.
8. Wax or sealant?
We recommend waxing or sealing your vehicle 1 – 2 times a year. The spring and fall months are best to use a wax or sealant because it’s not too hot or cold. Once your car has been clay barred, washed and dried, it’s time to protect it. Waxes are usually made of natural carnauba leaves which produce a protective film which allow rain to slide off the leaves. This is the same concept that works on your vehicle. Once you apply a wax you will see that water will now bead from the paint rather than being stagnant. Sealants are typically man made from synthetic polymers. Sealants typically last longer while waxes bring out more color and pop in the paint.
9. Tire and exterior trim protection.
If you want your tires and trim to stay black longer make sure that they are completely clean and dry. If you spray or apply a product you want it to fully adhere. If the product is not making contact with a clean surface it will look spotty and not last as long.
10. Glass treatment.
To achieve crystal clear glass we recommend cleaning in a sun free area. Clean both interior and exterior glass with a dedicated microfiber towel and buff once you’re done. As you’re cleaning you will streak the glass. Once you’re done go over it with a clean towel to get rid of the streaks.